Saturday, August 31, 2013

Empaths and Biology, Part 3

     I came across some more research that gave more insight into us empaths.  Dr. Elaine Aron has found in her studies that fifteen to twenty percent of the population can be labeled "Highly Sensitive."  What is that? you ask.  Basically, it is the tendency to feel overwhelmed by stimuli (noises, lights, smells, etc.) that most people find only mildly stimulating.  It is the ability to be aware of moods or other subtle cues that most people miss.  It is marked by the need to be alone and/or be in a nature setting in order to "detox" from the day.  It is shown by the need to focus on one thing at a time, rather than multi-tasking.  Highly sensitive people find music and art to be a richly rewarding experience.  They find that tight deadlines are extremely stressful. Does this description fit you or someone you know?  If you'd like to take Dr. Aron's test to see if you are highly sensitive, click here.

     What else has been discovered about highly sensitive people?  For starters, they have more blood flow in the right hemisphere of their brain, indicating that they are more internally, rather than externally, focused.  It would also predispose them to be more imaginative and artistic.  Second, they have a tendency to have lower serotonin levels, due to the stress of repeated episodes of over-arousal.  Third, they may have a highly sensitive body as well, showing up in allergies and a very sensitive nervous system.  Last, both men and women may have this trait; it is not gender specific. 

     Next time, we'll explore whether empaths are highly sensitive, or if all highly sensitive people are empaths. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Empathy and Biology, Part 2

     In the last post, I was discussing the theory of mirror neurons.  These are neurons in the brain which are designed to react to other people's actions or experiences.  My question was, do empaths have more of these mirror neurons than others, or is there some other way to explain our gifts?

     If empaths are gifted with more than the usual amount of mirror neurons, perhaps this suggests that the mirror neurons are distributed among the population unequally, with some people receiving more, and others less.  One researcher's work may support this idea.  Dr. Iacoboni found that children with autistic spectrum disorder tended to have fewer mirror neurons than others without this disorder.  In fact, he found that the children with severe ASD had far fewer mirror neurons than those less affected by ASD.  So, maybe empaths were just born with more mirror neurons.  That is a possibility.

       But it doesn't answer certain questions about what empaths can do.  For example, how do you explain the ability to walk into a room and know what people's moods are almost instantly?  Or, how do you explain feeling family member's or close friend's emotions from across great distances?  Or, how do you explain the ability to sense the moods of someone you've never met, as I have with my Twin Soul?

      Researchers of the world, get on it!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Empathy and Biology

     I was re-familiarizing myself the other day with the whole theory of mirror neurons.  This theory is based on the research by two Italian scientists, Dr. Rizzolatti and Dr. Fadiga, who studied monkeys' brain responses.  In one study, they found that the same motor neurons would fire in monkeys who were watching someone pick up a banana or eat a peanut.  In other words, the monkeys who were watching the action didn't have to move, but their brain responded as if they had done the same action that they had witnessed.

     When researching whether mirror neurons existed in humans, studies have shown evidence that similar areas in the brain react when people are watching other people who are performing specific actions, smelling noxious odors, feeling certain tactile sensations, and so on.  The psychologist Dr. Ramachandran believes that the discovery of mirror neurons is one of the "single most important unpublicized stories of the decade."

     Scientists have speculated that mirror neurons developed for the purpose of building empathy, which is necessary for social coherence.  My question is:  Are empaths equipped with more of these mirror neurons, or is there another explanation for their gifts?  More on that to come.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Beautiful Twin Soul Poetic Description

     I love Rumi, don't you?  A while back someone gave me a book of his poems, one for each day.  This is my second year through it, and each time I read one of Rumi's poems, they come to me as fresh as the morning dew.  Here is part of a poem in which Rumi describes what it was like to meet Shams, his Twin Soul (my opinion):

     . . . Like swimmers
     who love the water, their souls knit together
     without being sewn, no seam.

Don't you just love Rumi?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Twin Souls and Evolution, Part 2

     I made some pretty bold claims in the last post, and I wanted to take the time to expand on them here.

     Years ago (and I wish I could find the source!), I read or heard that ancient civilizations were more advanced than the current version of humans because they relied less on external gadgetry and more on the power of their minds.  Think of the amazing monuments that still remain from those times -- the pyramids in Egypt, the amazing cities laid out on specific lines to correspond to celestial events, Chichen Itza in Mexico, Stonehenge, the Nazca lines in Peru, and so on -- and modern people still haven't figured out definitively how they were constructed.  Not only was the construction of these monuments beyond our fathoming, but the planning of these creations -- how did the ancient peoples do it without a computer? 

     I would like to hope that we will find the wisdom in returning to those ancient ways.  Not the barbarity, obviously, but the ability to develop our minds.  Rather than burying our nose in our smart phones and sending instant messages, let's take a moment to focus on the person we're thinking of and ask:  What is that person feeling at this moment?  What do they see or smell or hear or taste?  Then, check and see how much you are correct.  That's right, I'm advocating developing telepathic gifts. And let's do more.  Let's see if we can evolve ourselves away from the dependence on electronic gadgets.  Let's see if we can develop our minds and hearts and wean ourselves away from the trivial pursuits of our current age and embrace a new view of our role here on Earth.  Let's get back to our roots.  Let's grow up.

(photo courtesy of