1. Dream Empaths
Dream empaths regularly have vivid dreams that they remember, an experience that frequently starts in childhood. If you’re a dream empath you are attracted to the dream world and look forward to sleeping each night. Dreams are such a powerful form of intuition because they bypass the ego and the linear mind to offer clear intuitive information. They bring guidance about healing, spirituality and overcoming difficult emotions (sometimes through the healing power of nightmares), telling you how to help yourself and others.
Some dream empaths may have spirit guides who communicate with them during sleep. They appear in many forms, such as animals, people, presences, angels or loving voices. They can tell you how to overcome obstacles, reach your goals or lead a more spiritual and peaceful life. Not everyone has specific spirit guides; if you do, be sure to listen to them. They provide helpful, compassionate information—never anything that is harmful to others or to you.
Dream empaths can travel to other realms in dreamtime. I’ve been a dream empath since childhood. I feel more comfortable in dreams than I do awake. Each day, I can only operate in the material world for so long. Then I need to be with the sacredness of the dream world.
As a dream empath, you can develop your abilities. Keep a dream journal and write down your dreams every morning. Upon awakening, spend a few quiet moments in the hypnagogic state, the state between sleeping and waking, and record whatever snatches of your dreams that you remember. Then you can meditate on the meaning of this information throughout the day.
Also, get in the habit of asking a question before you go to sleep, anything from “What direction shall I take in my career?” to “Is this relationship good for me?” In the morning, see how the answer in the dream applies to your question. Regularly remembering and learning from your dreams will help you more deeply understand yourself and others.
2. Telepathic Empaths
Telepathic empaths can intuitively read what is happening with others in present time, even if a person’s thoughts and feelings are unexpressed. They receive images, impressions, flashes and knowings about loved ones, co-workers, clients, even strangers.
Here’s what this phenomenon can look like: You’re thinking about a close friend. Then, the phone rings, and that friend is the caller. You sense that your child is sick, even though she lives a thousand miles away—and later learn that she is indeed sick.
How can you tell if an intuition is accurate and not a projection of your own emotions and issues? Note whether the information you picked up has a neutral or compassionate tone. Be suspect of intuitive flashes with a high emotional charge or that reflect issues you are struggling with. To stay clear, you must know yourself well. For example, if a fear of abandonment is an emotional trigger for you and you keep sensing that a friend or maybe your partner is going to desert you, you are probably projecting your fear onto them. But if you get a matter-of-fact flash, with a neutral tone, that your co-worker is going to leave her job, that insight is most likely accurate. You may be upset afterward because you don’t want to lose this person, but the information didn’t initially carry an emotional charge.
Being a telepathic empath can be overwhelming. Intuitions come from many directions: You sense things about strangers in the grocery store, passersby on the street, co-workers, friends as well as family members. You may not be tuning in intentionally, yet the intuitions still come. To avoid overload, stay grounded. The information you pick up allows you to develop both more insight and compassion for people. It’s a gift to feel this heightened connection to others’ thoughts and feelings. Respect this gift always.
3. Earth Empaths
Earth empaths are attuned to the earth and the changes in her body. Sensually and energetically, they can feel the power of a thunderstorm, the loveliness of the moon and the warmth of the sun. If you are this type of empath, what happens to the earth is intimately connected to your body. The beauty and health of the earth nourishes and sustains you. The ocean and tides affect everyone, but especially you. You are sensitive to changes in the weather and daylight. Earth empaths may be more prone to seasonal affective disorder, becoming depressed in the winter, when the days are shorter and darker.
If you are this kind of empath, your body is intimately connected to the natural world. You can feel how much the earth loves us. You experience her changes as if they were happening to you. That’s why you may feel hurt, anxious, or experience health problems if she is harmed. When the earth is happy, you’re happy, and when she is in pain, you are too.
To stay vibrant and maximize these abilities, you need to frequently connect with the earth. Spend time in forests, by the ocean or in the mountains, where you can commune with the elements and feel at home. To deepen your bond with the earth, also eat clean, healthy, organic foods—better yet, grow them yourself. A diet of junk food separates us from the earth because we’re not ingesting her energy.
You can also use the earth as an oracle and ask her questions about yourself or others. She will answer you through your intuition, and when she does, follow her guidance. In native traditions, Mother Earth is revered and cared for. This is part of our purpose, and an important way for an earth empath to feel happy, healthy and whole.
4. Precognitive Empaths
Precognitive empaths have premonitions about the future, either while they’re awake or in their dreams. They may receive these premonitions spontaneously or when they intentionally tune in—a skill that can be developed with practice. You may receive premonitions about someone’s health, relationships, career or other issues. For instance, you might know if a friend will become ill, pass away, get married or be accepted into college long before others do.
Precognitive empaths must be clear about how to use their foreknowledge with integrity. Sometimes, you can warn others of a stressful or dangerous situation so that they will be more cautious or avoid it. With happier events, such as a couple becoming pregnant, you can say in a light tone, “My intuition tells me you will have a child soon.” Know that the information about the future you’re sensing is just a probability; there’s always a chance you could be wrong because most futures aren’t fixed. So, don’t think of yourself as an all-knowing authority.
Also realize that often the events you pick up can’t be changed. Sometimes, it isn’t appropriate to mention what you intuit to someone. How do you make this decision? The answer is always about what will serve the person. Check in with your intuition and ask, “Is this information appropriate to share? Would it help this person to know?” Then, listen for an intuitive yes or no, and follow that guidance. If you are unsure, keep your insights to yourself until a stronger message comes. I share about half the intuitions I receive about my patients with them. Some I never disclose because I sense it wouldn’t benefit them. And with others, I wait until the time feels right for them to hear it. Well-meaning intuitives can scare people if they aren’t mindful of their presentation or are motivated by ego and a desire to impress people with their talents. Always keep the other person’s welfare foremost in your mind. To maintain the integrity of this gift, you must practice constraint and humility.
Intuitive empaths can manifest in different forms. Sometimes, you can begin as one type and, with practice, go on to develop the traits of other types too. Whether you believe intuition comes from your subconscious, your highest self or a higher power, remember that it facilitates the sacred art of connection, with yourself, others and the universe.
This adapted except is from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, by Judith Orloff, MD. Copyright © 2017 by Judith Orloff. Published by Sounds True in April 2017. Dr. Judith Orloff is a psychiatrist and the author of five other books, including Emotional Freedom.