Copyright © 2009 by William R. Mistele. All rights reserved. From forthcoming book, Undines: Lessons from the Realm of Water Spirits, N. Atlantic Books, summer 2110
Ordinary, Magical, and Undine Empathy
There are many definitions of empathy. For the purposes of this book, empathy is the ability to feel what others feel. This does not mean you are in the same emotional state or frame of mind as the other person. However, at a minimum, it means you can sense what the other is going through by imagining how you might react in the same circumstances.
Larry King, a famous, TV talk-show host, often uses questions that establish empathy with the guests on his show. He will begin with a statement of fact and then follow with a question.
For example, “You mentioned that this is a new job assignment for you in a field in which you have no previous experience. I am guessing that you have had moments of doubt about your abilities in the first few months?”
And then, even though the guest is on TV with millions of people watching, he will say something like “No one has ever asked me about this. Yes. It was a terrible struggle until the second year.” Although he had never met his guest before, Larry King has just coaxed his guest to disclose something personal that he had never shared with anyone else. Even on a linguistic level, empathy is very powerful.
We can get a feel for undine empathy by strengthening ordinary listening skills such as active listening. In active listening, we paraphrase the content—the ideas--of what a person has said. Separately we describe the feelings the other person has toward his topic.
People are often unaware of their own emotions as they talk. They may not realize they are angry or sad, enthusiastic or worried. By describing what the other person is feeling, we give him a chance to reflect on and to clarify what he feels.
Active listening is a form of feedback. You do not have to be accurate, only close. People look in the mirror. They may be surprised with how good they look or how bad. But until they look they do not have that information. Active listening gives another the opportunity to look inward and decide for himself what he is feeling.
Part of active listening involves noticing incongruities--the difference between what a person is saying and the feelings expressed though body language—facial expression, gestures, intonation, or even word choice. Incongruity describes one way in which words and feelings may not be in sync.
An individual says “It did not bother me,” but his face darkens, his eyes turn hard, his voice changes pitch, his muscles tighten, etc. This is an incongruity between what is said and what appears in the body. In a case like this, you can simply point out the changes in body language.
Another example: “As you talked about her, you started speaking slower and with a quieter voice than the way you were talking before. You seem to take more time to process your feelings.” Or, “You say you love him, but you also mentioned some terrible things he did to you. But I do not see you expressing any anger. Are those feelings there, also?”
I briefly explained to one woman a scale of physical reactions and emotions relating to anger. I then asked, “On a scale of one to ten, how angry were you with him?” It seemed that in her body language and word choices she was expressing anger at around a five when the events suggested it might have been much stronger. She said that on a scale of one to ten her anger was a twelve. Her response to my question gave us both a clearer picture.
Thus far, I am describing good listening skills. Active listening is a courtesy we may extend to someone we care about. Imagine listening in this way to someone for ten minutes. At this point, we are ready to proceed to magical empathy.
A basic technique sometimes used in psychology is to imagine you are the other person. You imagine you are inside of the other’s body sitting in the same position. You imagine that you are speaking with the other’s voice and using the other’s body language. Going further, you imagine thinking the other’s thoughts, possessing the other’s memories, and feeling the other’s feelings.
In this exercise, you explore another’s self-image until you notice a specific, concrete, and physical sensation in your body that arises in response to imagining you are the other person. When you get this sensation of being the other person, focus on it. Allow it to tell you something new about this person.
Ask yourself, What is this sensation like? Is there an image or symbol that you could use to express it? What does it tell you about what the other person is like or about the inner flow of the other’s life?
For example, with a young woman whom I consider to be amazingly complex, I get a sensation in my belly as if I have just eaten a piece of Godiva chocolate. It is sweet, warm, and satisfying. The sensation tells me that in spite of my ideas about her, she actually is what she appears to be—a sweet, young, and loving woman.
With a stock broker whom I just met, I get a sensation of being very relaxed, laid back, and easy going. This sensation is in complete contrast to his physical appearance which is tense and in control. I ask him about this. He says he is looking forward to retiring and that I seem to know more about him than any of his friends.
Getting physical sensations in this manner gives a direct body-to-body and heart-to-heart connection to another person. For a brief period or longer, you are now connected to this person in a way that no one else in the world is. Consequently, you may notice an instant change in your body language and that of the other person.
Among other things, there is greater rapport. You and the other may feel more relaxed and comfortable so that words are no longer needed to confirm or validate the relationship. The level of connection is more fundamental than that produced by conversation or social interactions. Larry King has never attained this level of connection with any guest appearing on his show.
I taught a woman this form of magical empathy. Just after imagining that she was one with me, she paraphrased my conversation with her. As she did so, I felt that her words were like my own voice speaking to me from deep inside myself. I do not recall ever having had this experience before.
Almost everyone has had a life-long friend. In talking to such a person there is a feeling of trust, relaxation, an effortless ease and satisfaction that accompanies the conversation. Yet no friend I have ever known speaks to me with a voice from the depths of my heart. But for an undine, it is perfectly natural to sense what is hidden in another’s heart and then to say, “By the way, I feel something very wonderful inside of you. Why are you not expressing this in your life?”
Undines automatically produce physical sensations that indicate an inner connection. In this exercise, we are exploring verbal and nonverbal aspects of rapport. But undines go much further. They add bliss and ecstasy to a conversation in a way that we rarely experience in life.
An undine’s magnetic aura passes through anyone near to her or through anyone she focuses on. The magnetic fields of force in her aura automatically sense the other’s deepest desires and dreams. They also sense the ways in which the other person might be fulfilled.
In this sense, an undine’s empathy goes beyond feeling another person’s feelings or even feeling compassion. It is a way of foreseeing the future. Or, more accurately, undines see the way an individual might become whole and complete. To feel what is at the core of another person’s being is also to have a vision of what this individual can become.
This is not a prophetic function. The future depends on the individual’s and others’ choices. The undine may not see when something will happen as much as what will inevitably happen.
At the same time, empathy for an undine does not stop with insight or knowledge. It takes the individual into that vision and grants a taste—a powerful emotional affirmation that one’s deepest dreams can be fulfilled. The undine takes you directly into the dream as if the dream is real right now.
We do not often experience this in our daily lives so it might be a little hard to imagine. However, we sometimes notice something similar occurring in the moment of falling in love. I have mentioned before that a lover will say, “I never felt fully alive until I met you. I can’t imagine living my life without you.” Or, “My life was confused until I met you but now everything is in focus.”
In other words, love enhances feeling. It makes people alive. Individuals in love have more energy. Lovers, however, usually relate one to one. In romantic love, you bond with one person.
For an undine, love is not possessive in this way. Love is a property of water. The ecstasy and bliss that water contains are not derived from a connection to one person. Love is in the rivers, the lakes, and the seas. This love encompasses the planet. Undines are not constricted by the limitations and needs of an ego.
Though we might find it difficult to sense another person’s deepest desires and dreams, we are already familiar with the idea of blessing another person. In some churches, the service ends with a blessing as in, “May the blessings of God be upon you; may his peace abide with you; may his presence illuminate your lives now and forever more.”
Now then, take the idea of a blessing and customize it for a specific individual. Try this: Visualize someone right now so you see the other in front of you. Now imagine this individual feeling whole and complete. Whatever is missing is now present. Desires are satisfied, purposes accomplished, and dreams fulfilled.
Put together a feeling, a thought, and a picture of what this might be like for the individual. Now, imagine blessing the other person in this way--see and feel it as if it is real right now. In the section in which I describe the undine queen Isaphil, I mention a blessing she offered to a friend of mine.
The idea of blessing involves an act of daring—you accept the person as he or she is right now and you also dream what the person can be. For undines, the oceans brought life into being, sustain life, and offer dreams of what can be. To dare is the very nature of water.
You could say that the queens of the undines, as masters of water, automatically bless anyone they meet. It is a function of the magnetism in their auras. They empower others to feel alive and to fulfill their dreams.
Some warning is appropriate at this point. Empathy seems like it is responding rather than acting. If you feel what another feels, then this implies you are passively sensing the other person. If we consider empathy as being closely aligned with the feminine in its nurturing capacity, then some might regard this supportive aspect of empathy as being weak. It would seem that masculinity, by contrast, takes charge and changes things. This point of view is a great mistake.
Empathy can control just as easily as it can receive. It can recreate in itself what another feels, and it can just as easily create new feelings in another person. This is perfectly clear in my dialogues with undines. Simply communicating with them is to experience wonder and profound states of love. It is not for nothing that even traditional literature ascribes to undines the ability to enchant and cast spells.
Our own psychologists notice something similar. If you establish a subliminal bond with another person and change your feelings, then the other person tends to change also without being conscious that this is happening. In doing active listening, then, you do not want to be overly sympathetic or signal to the other that you have a strong reaction to what the other person has experienced. You do not want to define others’ feelings for them by indicating your feelings are already perfectly clear about the experiences they are sharing.
Salesmen are constantly employing empathic techniques. They act like your best friend to establish trust so they can sell you something. They employ all sorts of nonverbal cues to accomplish this.
I met a powerful empath not long ago. She turned her immense powers of psychic sensitivity on me. A third party might have observed her empathy being expressed through her tone of voice, her eyes, and her facial expressions. But I simply noticed her extending her aura around me. In an instant, she conveyed that she understood who I was and what I was seeking to accomplish.
I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Experience told me that, although she sensed what was in me, she did not really care. She was running on autopilot--using her empathic skills to manipulate another in order to sell her products. Beneath the warmth was a cold heart. And the man she was with was drained and depressed, perhaps as a result of her influence. You have to actually care about others if you want to bring to life what is within them.
Two Exercises for Undine Empathy
The Ocean of Love Exercise. In this exercise, we put together physical sensations and feelings. Imagine that you are in the center of an ocean of water. This ocean extends in all directions around you. Imagine the water of this ocean as being cool, perhaps blue green, pure, and flowing.
Now, add to this imagined sensation of an ocean the feeling of love. The water is also a presence that is nurturing, healing, renewing, and fulfilling. It brings to life whatever it touches. We are now within and part of an ocean of love.
Some will be able to imagine the sensations of water surrounding them but have difficulty adding the feeling of love. Recall again that the sea brought life into being and that it sustains life. The magnetic field within the sea offers us dreams of the way our consciousness can be expressed and extended. Once you sense the feeling that is inside water, the sea becomes a powerful symbol. It embodies the sensations and feelings of all-embracing love.
Take a few moments to explore this imagery. Imagine that you are this sea of love. Identify with this vast field of energy without referring back to yourself as being in a specific location or even having a bodily form. You are love, and this love is everywhere.
Now, visualize another person in front of you, someone with whom you are familiar. Visualize the person’s body as being empty inside. Next, imagine that as the sea you begin to flow down through the top of this person’s head into his or her body and out of the person’s feet.
As you do so, sense everything within this person. Your cool, flowing water heals, purifies, harmonizes, and nourishes. Pain and tension dissolve. Frustration and unhappiness disappear. The individual feels whole, complete, happy, and serene. In effect, you are uniting the individual with this sea of all-embracing love.
As you perform this exercise, retain the feeling that you are the entire ocean. Your energy and love are inexhaustible and everywhere. As the ocean, you are pure receptivity, and no obstacle limits your power to flow and to remain pure.
One woman to whom I taught this exercise was able to produce strong sensations of flowing water combined with love in other people who were in no way psychic. It took two minutes to teach her the exercise. A minute later, with this simple meditation she was extending her aura through the body and mind of another person with effects that were unmistakable.
Another woman said to me after practicing the exercise, “I already do this everyday with my boyfriend. I just never put it into words the way you do.”
Again, undines feel that they are part of the sea, and the nature of the sea is love. They also perceive others as being within this sea, and so naturally they sense what is inside of others. Unlike magical empathy, which requires an effort, undine empathy is automatic and effortless. There is no focusing of will. Undines sense what is inside of you. The love that they feel in themselves is the same that they sense flowing through you.
For undines, there is one energy of life within and animating all beings. Our religions and mystics sometimes speak of this. Undines embody it.
I have been fortunate to be able to interview women who feel this sea of love surrounding them in every moment. These women possess undine empathy. Whether or not you believe in undines, undine empathy is already present in our world and can be learned by anyone.
A simple version of the ocean of love exercise is to notice when you are around someone who is tense and frustrated, insecure or anxious. Now, imagine that you are a small waterfall flowing into a mountain pool. The water again is cool, flowing, purifying, calm, and serene. The spray from the falls creates a small rainbow in the air.
You become the falls and the pool. You are not interfering with anyone, but anyone near you may feel your benevolent influence. The effects are nonverbal, subliminal, and body to body. It is one thing to seek to love others. It is another thing to incorporate into your love the power and beauty of water in nature. This healing power is the undines’ gift to us.
The Magnetic Field Exercise. In the previous chapter, “A Study of Water and the Magnetic Fluid,” I describe an exercise for experiencing the magnetic fluid. That exercise can be used to extend and deepen the ocean of love exercise.
Imagine a blue or blue-green ball of water six feet in diameter around and part of you. It is cool, magnetic, and contracting. It draws things toward itself. It is attractive, soothing, and calming. It shelters, protects, and heals. It is receptive as in utterly empty of form and completely open. It is able to receive and contain the soul of any being within itself, nurturing, inspiring, and empowering it to attain to completion and fulfillment. In your mind, become this field of magnetic energy.
Now, visualize another person in front of you. Imagine the ball extending further out so that it also surrounds this person. There is no need to imagine the energy moving inside of this person. Your magnetic field of force automatically flows through anything that is within its sphere of influence.
In effect, the entire magnetic field is an extension of your nervous system. You feel and sense whatever it touches. The auras of the undine queens automatically flow through anyone near them. The nature of love that these beings possess annihilates loneliness, separation, and isolation. To be near them is to feel oneness with them.
In the same way, feel the person you are visualizing in front of you. Sustain the sensations of cool, contracting magnetism. Sustain the feelings of sheltering, healing, and fulfilling. Be pure receptivity. Sense the other person from this perspective. Become this love.
At the same time, you can deepen this mode of perception by extending your awareness to match that of the undine queens. Feel waves breaking on all the beaches of the world. Feel one with all the waters of the earth. Feel the pull of the moon on the earth and sea. Feel a timeless peace, encompassing past, present, and future, in which you are one with the universe.
This is the love with which the undine queens love. It is pure bliss and ecstasy, and in the past it has been carefully hidden from mankind. Perhaps you can imagine what a woman would be like if she embodies this empathy that unites itself not only with others but with the energies underlying nature.
The difference at this point between a woman doing this exercise and an undine queen such as Isaphil or Istiphul is that the auras of the undine queens are 100 times more powerful than that of an individual woman. All the same, this level of power and ecstasy is precisely what we as human beings are meant to embody within ourselves.
I have met women who have the qualities of the undine queens’ auras hidden within themselves. I have also met a woman who has the power of an undine queen in her body. I have yet to see both the love and the power of this magnetic field combined and consciously expressed in the same woman.
All the same, when one woman practiced this magnetic field exercise on me, I felt her magnetic lines of force flowing through my body. And instantly, without any effort on my part, I felt joined to all the oceans of the earth. I felt the oceans were an extension of my own aura. The water, the life, the currents, and the tides were my body.
It is a different thing to use concentration and meditation to produce altered states of awareness. After all, a meditation takes effort. You have to change your brain waves.
But when a woman influences you in this way, it is not magic. This is a natural power women possess. It is in their estrogen, the form of their bodies, their natural connections to water in nature, and the magnetic field these things produce. To say the least, this influence is dynamic, overpowering, inspiring, and forever transforming. When undine empathy is present in women, we experience divine sensuality.
In what context can we understand sensuality and empathy such as this? Stephen Hawking, the astrophysicist, unites relativity, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics in his theories. He wishes to understand everything there is to know about the universe. This is a perfectly natural quest. It is what science does.
The heart possesses a similar quest. It wishes to hold within itself, to embrace, and to transform the entire universe through love. In regard to love and knowledge, love has the advantage, for love can easily absorb knowledge into itself as it seeks to fulfill the greater purposes of the heart.