You start the day thinking of everything you’re going to enjoy and accomplish on the way to finding your own creative, successful life.
You’re feeling great and the world is full of opportunities to grow and love. Then you actually walk out into that world and bam! There goes your zen.
By the time you get back home in the evening, all those hopes for expansion are long gone— now you’re grumpy, tired, and overwhelmed by the multitude of emotions and people you encountered during the day.
Sounds familiar? If so, there’s nothing wrong with you— you might simply be an exhausted empath. An empath is someone who has a special ability to sense other people’s energy and emotions, and who is highly intuitive and centered around feelings.
That’s an awesome personality trait to have if you ask me. You’ve got an extra dose of creativity, deep relationships, and the chance to do good things in our crazy, desensitized world. But not everything is always rose-colored.
What happens when an empath gets overwhelmed by all that heightened sensitivity?
Why do Empaths need grounding and shielding?
Being an empath means you need to develop seriously solid boundaries. Why this need for increased protection? Essentially, in your natural state, you’re like a sponge: porous and permeable, taking in whatever energy or feeling floats around you.
This can become exhausting pretty fast— spending time in crowded settings or simply hanging around highly emotional, turbulent friends or coworkers will send your intuitive nature into overdrive.
If you’re constantly taking on everyone’s issues, stormy inner worlds, and erratic impulses, you’re draining yourself of the energy you need to manage your own emotions. In order to grow and nourish all of your dreams, you need to keep your internal resources available for yourself— instead of inadvertently giving them away to whoever projects emotions around you.
So, grounding: as an empath, you need to come down (just a little bit) from your ethereal plane of feelings and intuition. Grounding is connecting yourself to the embodied, practical plane. That means taking care of yourself, being in your body, and providing a safe place for your own sweet soul to rest. It’s the base of what you need to stay protected and positive.
Shielding could be considered the second stage of your empath protection. Despite it sounding martial and somewhat weird, it’s a simple concept: to avoid sensory overload and emotional deluge, you’re going to create a barrier between you and the world.
It’s not about becoming detached and devoid of feelings, of course! Rather, it’s your chance to create healthy boundaries that let you bloom and direct your empathy gift wherever you want instead of being directed by it.
7 effective grounding and shielding techniques for empaths
Okay, enough talk. Take a look at these progressive techniques for empaths. Use them isolated, in tandem, or practice one after the other.
What matters is that you look at your own inner world, recognise what you need right now, and provide that sweet self-love. You’ve got this!
1. Cultivate an embodiment practice.
No way around it, the best way to ground yourself is to explore and honor how you exist in your body. Often, as empaths, we tend to focus on the emotional and spiritual parts of life.
While that’s pretty much unavoidable, it also wears you down— we are embodied beings here to learn. We need to take good care of our bodily vessel in order to grow spiritually.
So what is embodiment? At its core, it means being present with your sensations. It can be as simple as setting aside five minutes every morning to ask yourself, ‘What am I feeling in my body right now?’ and truly paying attention to the answer, no judgment.
You can explore different techniques of embodiment, choose whatever lets you experience your own body with freedom and joy. It might be dancing wildly to your favorite disco jams, practicing 10 daily minutes of power yoga, taking a hot herbal bath and reveling in the sensations… Or anything else that makes your flesh-and-bones tingle!
All these practices heal and connect you to your lower energy centers: those that rule over safety, stability, and assertiveness. The more aware you are of your body, the better your home base to face the world and all its overwhelm from.
2. Be mindful of what you put in your body.
Again, this one might seem simple but, in our fast-paced and mindless world, most of us forget it: whatever you put into your body becomes you. Drinking, smoking, eating all the wrong, fast, thoughtless food— these are all things that are even more harmful to you, a sensitive empath, than to anyone else.
Your food is a tool: if you choose it right (lots of plants, ethical produce, and nutritious meals), it can get you to your best and most radiant state. Coincidentally, that’s the place in which you’re the most empowered.
Let’s look at an example. When choosing what to eat, don’t charge ahead. Take a moment (say, five seconds) to clear your mind and heart. Put aside whatever is making you feel anxious— if you need it, you can always pick it back up later.
Now, become aware of your body and ask it, ‘What do you need? What would make you feel safe, powerful, and cared for?’. When you land on something, choose that.
Daunting? With time and practice, this will get easier and you’ll reap the benefits: a body that is happy and cooperative, a safe place to come back to when you’re swamped by other people’s issues.
3. The power of the breath.
In many spiritual traditions all around the globe, breath is highly significant: it’s the clear representation of our life force and energy. So, if you’re an energy-drained empath trying to get back your emotional space, your breath is one of your key allies.
Here’s a little ritual you can try when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. The goal: return to your body, ground yourself in your own breath, taking back your own energy.
If you can, start by closing your eyes to increase concentration. If that’s not possible, you can keep them open but work harder to stay focused.
Now, expel all air from your lungs and, with it, push away all tangled feelings and sensations. Pause for a second at the bottom of the exhalation, then inhale consciously.
The air you’re taking in is the energy you need to sustain yourself, without the intervention of anyone else. Pause for a second at the top of the inhalation. You can do this.
Inhale for a slow count of three, pause for one, exhale for three, pause for one. Repeat this calming breath cycle ten times for completion. You can snap this little ditty out anywhere at any time, whenever you need help getting rid of external influences.
4. Barefoot in nature.
Being barefoot in nature is a quick way to reconnect. An easy grounding technique to return to the physical plane and feel your body in all its power. When you get your body in direct contact with the soil, you’re accessing the calming energies of the Earth in all its ancient wisdom.
Think of it: the Earth is always transmuting, growing, and recreating. It never tires of renewing and recharging all beings as it plunges through cosmic space. The Earth will hold you when it feels like no one can.
So, when you’re overwhelmed or exhausted, go to the garden. Or a friend’s garden. Or even your local park! You don’t need to be showy about taking your shoes off or walk around. Just get barefoot and place the soles of your feet on natural soil— grass, earth, sand, take your pick.
Done? Good. Now, go back to your embodiment practice. What do you feel? Do you sense the particles beneath your feet? They used to be star matter, just like you, and now they’re supporting you as you travel through this life. Move your toes, stomp your feet, shift your soles around. Isn’t wonderful that you are alive?
Rest in the moment— the world can wait. Right now, it’s just you and Mother Earth. You need nothing more.
5. Smoke cleanse.
Between grounding and shielding, there’s something else you can do: cleansing yourself of every feeling and entangled energetic influence that doesn’t belong to you. The simplest cleansing practice is using sacred smoke to free up your own energetic field as well as your safe haven— your home environment.
If you’re in a hurry, you can use an incense stick. If you want a deeper, more mindful practice, go for a bundle of herbs. Be mindful of the herbs you use: if possible, make sure they are harvested ethically and that the access to them isn’t endangered. Or, if you have a green thumb, grow them and bundle them up yourself!
Once you have your stick or bundle ready, set an intention: to cleanse your physical and energetic bodies of all entanglements in other people’s energy; to cleanse your space of the influence of others. Light your ritual tool and move it over your limbs, torso, and head, all while holding your purifying intention at the forefront of your mind.
Visualize the smoke filling up your body and your home, severing all ties and harmful influences. See how it drifts away and dissipates. Inhale and exhale mindfully. You are here, and you are protected. It’s time to put up a shield and keep it that way.
6. Relational shield of light.
As an empath, you need to stay mindful of who and what you allow to connect with you. But sometimes, as you go about your day, it can get hard to prevent other’s energy from projecting onto you. That’s why, before going out in the morning, you’ve got to shield yourself.
Visualization is especially powerful in this area. That’s why, before you to go off on the day’s adventures, you’re going to create a visual protection between you and the outside world.
The idea isn’t to lock the Universe out but rather, restore a more balanced relationship: you’ll be able to choose what you allow in and what you don’t accept.
Start by closing your eyes and reliving the inhalation and exhalation cycle you’ve practiced before. Breathe in mindfully for a count of three, pause, exhale for a count of three, pause. Repeat until you feel centered.
Then, focus on your heart space. Can you feel the beating? The life and love that sustain you are strong. Now, visualize a bright light in the place where your heart lies. Feel it spreading with every beat, radiating around your body, covering your skin with a protective, bright layer.
Now, state your intention: ‘I am protected. I accept what nourishes me. What would diminish me fades away’.
For a second, focus on your light shield pulsating around you. It will stay with you, growing with you as you grow, holding you tight when something threatens to overwhelm you. You are safe.
And, whenever you feel that your protection starts to fade away, you can quietly sneak into privacy for a minute or two and renew your heartfelt shield. Hold yourself lovingly.
7. Journal practice— Work on your boundaries.
Boundaries. Now that’s a hard topic. But, as an empath, you’ve got to determine just where those are for you in order for your relationships to stay positive and nourishing. There’s only so much of you you can give. You’ve got to get firm on just how much space people can take in your inner world.
Let’s get to it— how do you decide what you can give? Grab your pen and paper and dive in!
Start by clearing your energy with a few, deep cycles of breath. This is time for you.
Now, consider— What is the core of your being? What are your beautiful, defining characteristics that make you love yourself? It could look like, ‘I am compassionate, free-spirited, intuitive, artistic’, or anything that comes to mind. Write it down.
After completing that, ask yourself, ‘What do I fear?’ (perhaps the answer is ‘I’m afraid people will leave me’ or ‘I’m afraid to be perceived as negative’). Once you’ve written that down, think of this:
What actions and relationships in your life are motivated by your core being? Which are motivated by your fears?
Thinking on this terms will make it easier for you to see just where your boundaries (or lack thereof) are defined by, for example, a fear of losing people if you don’t give away your energy to them.
Then, when you’re out in the world making decisions, you’ll be able to come back to this exercise and tune in to your core feelings. As an empath, this is extremely useful: you’ll be able to bypass the projected emotions of others and make decisions that stay true to your Higher Self.
By practising these 7 grounding and shielding techniques for empaths, you’ll create a safe space for yourself and your emotions. You will be able to protect yourself from taking on projected energy and feelings. And, most importantly, you’ll cultivate a nourishing and inspired attitude towards your experience— and be well on your way to a joyful empath life!