As an empath, it really jolted my thinking when I read about the meditation technique described by Rabbi Cooper in Ecstatic Kabbalah. As I wrote about it a week ago, it involves taking in the hurts and pains and all the messed-up parts of our world as we breathe in "Weh," and then exhaling the transformative power of the Divine as we whisper "Yah." Just thinking about taking in other people's stuff made me want to run in the opposite direction!
But there are other meditation traditions which urge us to do a similar thing. In Buddhism, the meditation technique for compassion asks us to breathe in the pain of this world and then exhale compassion on the objects of our meditation.
Christianity has had similar ideas in its history. I just finished reading a biography of St. Catherine of Siena, and she believed that by heaping abuses on her own body, either by existing on a starvation diet or restricting sleep or wearing uncomfortable clothes or even painful items, that the acceptance of her own suffering somehow would transform the suffering of her world through grace.
Honestly, I find this a very difficult teaching. We modern folks crave our comfort and abhor suffering. Empaths have it even worse, because we often take in other people's pain, either physical or emotional, without meaning to or sometimes without realizing it. To try to escape from other people's suffering becomes an instinctive reaction. We close off, we shut ourselves up in protective spheres of light, we wear protective crystals, we escape into solitude. To purposely take in an other's suffering is the last thing we empaths want to do.
So, I asked my guides, and the answer came through Star Trek and a vision of mussels. More on that to come.