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What’s happening with this blog?

June 3, 2014

Recently I’ve had a  lot of new subscribers to this blog which is just fantastic – thank you all so much for your support and interest.

There have also been a lot of comments and if you’ve been one of those people commenting, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to write and to apologise for the belated approval and response to those comments.

I’m actually currently working on a new project – a book – which is why I haven’t posted anything for a while – and which is why I don’t always pick up your comments until some time after they’ve been left. (I’ve also had technical issues thanks to both my computers being on the blink recently.)

So this is just to let you all know that I will be back online next year once the project is complete, most probably with a brand new blog, so do please stay subscribed as I will notify you all of my new site once it’s up and running, where you’ll be able to continue to read my posts.

I also do appreciate all your comments and I always get round to reading and replying to them eventually, so do please continue to leave them as I very much enjoy reading them.

Thank you again for all your support.

Warmest wishes

Sharon

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Veganism – a step towards a more compassionate world

December 11, 2012

vegan4

The human race in the 21st century seems to pride itself on its sophistication and civilisation. My belief is that we’re far from civilised and are, as Bill Hicks pointed out, only half-evolved:

 Folks, it’s time to evolve. That’s why we’re troubled. You know why our institutions are failing us, the church, the state, everything’s failing? It’s because, um – they’re no longer relevant. We’re supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right? There’s another 90 percent of our brains that we have to illuminate.

In the same way that we can now sneer at our ancestors for believing the sun was a god and that the earth was flat, and express horror at the fact that kids were hanged for stealing apples and women were burned as witches for being different, so our descendants will deride us for our primitive behaviours. Fighting over territory, satisfying lusts for sex, blood and power – behaviours which are occurring, albeit in small and often petty ways  on a daily basis in each of our own little worlds, not just on a global level. We may be able to walk on two legs, communicate using a complex language system and create some amazing stuff, but underneath all that we’re still just driven by base animal instincts and ruled by those lower chakras.

 So how is this relevant to veganism? Here are some quotes from people far more eminent than myself who articulate this far better than I ever could:

 * “For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” Pythagoras, mathematician

 * “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.” Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist

 * “To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.” Romain Rolland, author, Nobel Prize 1915

 * “If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth — beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals — would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?” George Bernard Shaw, playwright, Nobel Prize 1925

 * “What is it that should trace the insuperable line? …The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” Jeremy Bentham, philosopher

 * “In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, author, Nobel Prize 1978

 * “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” “To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.” Mahatma Gandhi, statesman and philosopher

 And finally, my original point summed up beautifully:

 * “Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” Thomas Edison, inventor

 The reason I feel there is a connection between the way we treat animals and our evolution is this. For many years I was a very strict vegetarian, then briefly I lapsed – not a lot, but enough. And with hindsight I can see that the reason I had this lapse and lost sight of the truth for a short while was because I was temporarily ‘asleep’  due to being in a very dark place in my life, and therefore living through my ego, my life ruled by fear rather than love. As I reawakened, opened up my higher chakras, and rediscovered my authentic self, I found myself naturally drawn to total vegetarianism again and the final turning point came when I stumbled upon a video online similar to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeJfY5CXTM0

The actual video I watched, which is no longer available, was entitled ‘If you eat meat, you can watch this’. Now, I am one of those highly sensitive types who can’t bear to witness violence of any kind, so I tend to avoid this kind of thing as I know it will literally haunt me for the rest of my life. But I thought the challenge was fair enough, so I forced myself to watch it (though I had to have the sound turned down, and keep scrolling up and down). What I saw was so horrific that it was enough to convince me that I would never touch any meat product again. It seems abhorrent to me that an animal should suffer such a terrifying and violent death – and in many cases, an entire lifetime of suffering –  just so that a human can eat a meal which he or she probably doesn’t even appreciate that much anyway. When you grab a burger in your lunch break, your only concern is to satisfy your temporary hunger, and then it’s forgotten about. Yet in order for you to eat that meal, a sentient being gave his or her life. I could never again eat something knowing that in its original form, this food was a creature who lived a miserable existence treated as a commodity and spent his/her last few moments on Earth shocked, frightened and in pain. (And on a purely energetic level, is this really the kind of energy you want to be ingesting?)

I’ve since extended this to all animal products, having researched more on dairy and egg production and been horrified at what I found. I also no longer use cosmetics, toiletries or cleaning products which use substances such as glycerin taken from animals, or any product which is tested on animals. This also extends to my clothing, shoes, bags and any other object I purchase. Becoming vegan has been a really exciting life choice for me (and it IS a lifestyle choice, not just a diet) and is the only logical step for anyone wanting to lead a compassionate and ethical lifestyle. Plus, the food is yummy – since becoming vegan I’ve eaten a wider range of delicious and healthy foods than I ever have in my life – and I’ve really surprised myself with my cooking skills!

 As you cut through the swathes of negative conditioning and beliefs which have masked your authentic self, achieving inner simplicity and enjoying the fulfilment, harmony and serenity which come from opening up your higher chakras and finding meaning in your life, you will probably also find yourself gravitating towards a cleaner, purer and more ethical diet in other ways. As well as becoming vegan, you will probably find yourself naturally rejecting such things as nicotine, excess alcohol, recreational drugs, too much sugar, salt and caffeine and processed foods. Most addictions to these substances are due to a lack of meaning in your life, so it makes sense that an improvement in your emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing will result in these habits naturally falling away. Where the mind and spirit go, so shall the body follow.

If you are interested in committing to a compassionate lifestyle and becoming vegan then there are now many great resources on the internet  – type ‘vegan starter pack’  into your search engine and you will find loads of interesting material to get you started.

I can also highly recommend Liz Cook’s book ‘So what do you eat?’  for some fabulous vegan recipes. They’re really simple and yummy and the book is beautifully illustrated, and it’s a great introduction to vegan cooking. It really helped me and my family to make the transition.Check it out here.

piggies

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Ten Signs You’re Awake

December 9, 2012

Following my previous post ‘Ten Signs of Awakening‘, let’s now take a look at ten ways to recognise that you’re well and truly awake – that is, what life will be like when you’ve been through the awakening process described previously and come out the other side. You don’t necessarily have to resonate with all of these to be awake but you will find each of these factors becoming more prevalent in your life once you do wake up.

1) Being true to you

Now you’ve shed your ‘stuff’ and been through the healing process, your authentic core self – call it your heart, your soul, your soul-self – is revealed in all its glory. At last you know who you are and what it is you want – and there’s a good chance it’s nothing like the life you’ve been lead to believe you should want or the ‘you’ that the world has reflected back at you.

That’s because unlike the unawakened world you’ve grown up in, you’re no longer experiencing life via the ego which views everything with fear, is self-obsessed and creates defences to protect itself. Instead, you’re seeing the world through your soul-self and the eyes of love, which means you now look out more than in and have made that all-important switch from ‘service to self ‘ to ‘service to others’, which is the cornerstone of soulful living.  You now see the truth of what the world needs – and you know what it is you can do to make that difference.

‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment’.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

2) Living in the moment

When you were asleep and living your life steeped in fear, you probably found yourself constantly dwelling on past grievances and worrying about what the future would bring. Whilst it’s important to learn the lessons which the past has taught us and to have a plan in mind for the future, when you constantly reside in those places, you miss so much of what is wonderful in the here and now – and also miss what needs to be done to make the world a better place. Living in the past and the future is SO self-absorbing and creates depression and anxiety – living in the moment brings inner peace which leaves you free to truly notice what is really going on both within and without you.

3) Getting in the flow

Remember those Universal nudges I mentioned in my previous post about awakening? Now you’re fully awake, you become a clear channel for Universal energy and as such, you will find yourself getting into the flow of life and riding a wave of Universal nudges and your inner guidance (the voice of your ‘soul-self). These nudges, coupled with the discernment of your intuitive self,  will help to guide you on to the right path towards fulfilling your life purpose and to live an existence which resonates with your authentic self.

4) Having faith

When you’re awake, you learn to relax and have faith in the aforementioned flow of life which will lead you in the right direction for both you and the good of the Universe.  Having faith means letting go of outcomes and getting out of your own way – in other words, you no longer try and control things or force them to go your way, as you know now that what is yours will come to you. (What it doesn’t mean though, is that you just sit back and do nothing – having faith doesn’t mean that you can’t be proactive in your life so keep on following those nudges!)

5) Appreciation and gratitude

Being awake means that you now find yourself spontaneously appreciating and feeling gratitude for what you already have.  Instead of living life in a state of perpetual longing, you love the gifts you already have and appreciate the simple things in life – your home, your family, your health, your own unique gifts. You will also find yourself noticing the beauty around you and may find that you have a newly awakened interest in the natural world. Spending time in nature can be very restorative for the awakened soul.

6) Being able to manifest what you need when you need it.

When you get into the flow and have faith, something really amazing happens – you find yourself manifesting exactly what you need just when you need it (NB this is NOT about what you ‘want’ – the Universe is not going to make you a multi-millionaire overnight, unless of course, it feels that this is appropriate for your particular life purpose!). This is  due to your inner guidance being in tune with the Universal Energy, creating a mutual support system which manifests everything you need for the highest good of your self and others.

7) Radiance

When you’ve shed the layers of darkness which have been masking your inner light, your authentic soul-self will be able to shine through. Consequently you will find others being drawn to you as you exude universal energy and light – you literally become a beacon of light for all around you. However this does not mean that an awakened life is completely free of darkness – though you will find that your ‘light’ repels a lot of dark energy, so you won’t be touched by it on a personal level as much as before – as we will see in point 8.

8) Living in balance

One of the misperceptions which some people have about being awake is that an awakened life is all sunshine, fluffiness and twinkly angels. This can result in some rather sneery attitudes towards awakening from those who would consider themselves ‘realists’.  However nothing could be further from the truth.

Being awake means that we still recognise what is often termed the ‘duality’ of life (the light and the dark, the yin and the yang)  – but instead of attempting to repress, deny or project these aspects onto others, we accept them as a part of the whole rather than a separate entity – hence the term ‘oneness’ which is used to describe life as seen through awakened eyes.  We realise that the key to life is finding the balance between these aspects of ourselves and the world rather than allowing one to dominate – and in the next point, we will see how being awake and in touch with our core self allows us to deal with darkness in a far more healthy and productive way.

Living in balance also means that we live our lives in a more holistically healthy way, as we recognise how everything is connected. So we balance work and play, mind and body, and naturally gravitate to a more healthful way of being.

9) Dealing with unavoidable suffering in a positive and meaningful way

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes three steps we can take towards discovering the meaning of life, the third of which is our attitude towards unavoidable suffering.

When we are awake, our authentic core self and the strength and inner peace which that gives us, means that never again will we be destroyed by external events in our lives. This does not mean that you won’t grieve or feel angry, but you will no longer allow any tragedy which befalls you to define you and control you.

To read more about people who have dealt with unavoidable suffering a positive and meaningful way and find out more about the three steps Frankl suggested to discover the meaning of life, check out my blog post on this here.

10) Being the change you want to see in the world.

When you’re fully awake, you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk too. Your whole life becomes  an example to others of how to find inner peace and you become the living embodiment of compassion and empathy. Your mantra becomes ‘Do no harm’ and you strive to leave the world in a better state than it was when you originally entered it in your current physical form.

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Ten Signs of Awakening

July 7, 2012

How do you do it and how will you know?

Awakening can be sudden or gradual – sometimes it happens as the result of a trauma or upheaval in our lives, other times it happens entirely spontaneously with no obvious trigger. You just know that life, the Universe and everything appear very different and that the truth about all this is perhaps not the same as the story you’ve been told by your parents, your teachers, your peers, society etc. However your awakening occurs though, you can guarantee you’re in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

But why is such a wonderful life-changing experience seemingly beset with difficulties?

It’s due to the healing and shedding of our ‘stuff’ which is a necessary part of the process, to make ourselves a clear channel for the Universal Energy (akin to what Jung termed the ‘collective consciousness’, though perhaps more amazing than even he realised) which is the most powerful – but underused – resource in the universe.

Pain is also a good indicator that something in our lives is out of balance and needs to change. Like the pain we feel in our physical selves to alert us to potential damage to our bodies, emotional and psychological pain alerts us to those areas in our lives which need healing so that we can tune into the energy of the Universe and of our own authentic soul-selves, instead of having our signal distorted by the chatter of egos – our own and those around us.

The process of awakening has a number of emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual and social implications, which are listed below (with some links for further reading if you’re interested in finding out more):

1) You see the bigger picture on a personal and global level.  And become very clear about where we’ve lost our way and what needs to be done about it. This can create feelings of anger, frustration and despair as we feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task which seems to stand before us. If you feel this way, remind yourself that you may only be one person, but you are still powerful enough to create great change – think of the ripple effect. Your efforts will reach way further than you can possibly even imagine. Just follow the path which together the Universe and your soul are leading you towards – the path of your true life purpose.

2) You feel good in your own skin and enjoy solitude and leading an authentic, uncomplicated life. And you become aware that to feel like this on a more constant basis, you need to ditch your baggage to discover and strengthen the authentic core you.

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/time-to-de-clutter/  (There are five parts to this article)

3) You recognise that inner peace can only come from within, not without.  Once you recognise this you begin to lose your unhealthy attachments to material things and to people.

4) Due to the mindbody connection, you may also experience unusual physical symptoms. Often repressed feelings get stuffed into parts of our body. Use the ‘bodyscan’ to keep yourself in tune with your physical and emotional self. (The ‘bodyscan’ is a straightforward exercise where you simply mentally  scan through your body and verbalise what is going on in there, and why you feel it might be happening eg churning in stomach area (solar plexus chakra) due to power issues; menstrual difficulties (sacral chakra) due to relationship issues; pain in left hand side due to problems with your feminine energy or a female in your life, and so on.)

5) You begin to understand how our energy systems affect us all. The basic seven chakra system (mentioned in point 4) is a really good place to start if you want to find out more about how you and the world operate.

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/the-chakra-system/

6) You become a clearer channel for Universal Energy. This is due to simplifying your life and digging beneath the layers to reach your authentic core so your energy is no longer blocked by your ‘stuff’. Try the ‘white light’ breathing exercise to increase your connection. (Visualise  white light (universal energy)pouring into your crown, flowing through every cell of your body and into the ground, then back up round your body and out of your crown again. Do this any time during the day to keep the connection fresh and clear.)

7) You become increasingly uncomfortable around lower vibrating energy. And therefore find it harder to be around certain people. You will feel repelled by anyone who is ‘toxic ‘ to your energy. If possible, simply choose not to be around them. If there are people you have to interact with, then at least minimise contact and try the shielding exercise to protect you during that time. (Visualise yourself protected and surrounded by a cloud of white light – again you can do this any time of day, quickly and easily, and can add to it too, by visualising drops of whilte light feeding into it. There’s no limit to how big the cloud can be so keep feeding it!)

8) You become intolerant of lower vibrating and overstimulating environments. In particular, environments you know to be embodiments of the wrong path. Because of this, you may also find yourself increasingly avoiding the media, especially certain news items.

9) You crave a more healthy, serene and compassionate lifestyle. You recognise how the mindbody connection works and begin to take care of your body as you appreciate it as your means to interact with the Universe. Bad habits fall away as your fears diminish and you may want to live and work in a different place. Increased empathy may also mean a vegetarian and more eco-friendly lifestyle too.

10) You start noticing nudges from the Universe. One of the fun aspects of waking up! As you become a clearer channel for the Universal Energy, you begin to receive messages from the Universe to nudge you in the right direction. These can take a number of forms, such as:
Synchronicities
Signs and symbols
Dreams
Telepathy
Intuition

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/so-what-is-synchronicity/

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/dreams

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On Being An Empath (part two)

May 30, 2012

Part Two – The Delights

Empathy: the state of identification of personalities in which one person feels into the other as temporarily to lose his or her own identity. It is in this profound and somewhat mysterious process of empathy that understanding, influence, and the other significant relations between persons take place.  – Rollo May

In part one of “On Being An Empath” we examined the difficulties of being an empath. In this second part, we’ll now explore how to take care of yourself once you’ve recognised you’re an empath, and the delights which being an empath can bring.

TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Now you’ve recognised that you’re an empath, the most important change you can make is to take care of yourself by minimising the number of negative influences in your life. As discussed in part one, as an empath you are susceptible to the detrimental effects of negative energy, whether it’s surrounding energy or your own.

This susceptibility affects your life in a number of ways. Firstly, you will be unable to tolerate an unhealthy relationship at any level. Some people are able to exist in such a relationship for many years, perhaps by operating as though it were simply a business arrangement, but as an empath you are unable to do this. Indeed, if you do attempt to follow this course of action, you will end up becoming physically, emotionally or mentally sick – I have know more than one empath who has become suicidal when stuck in a loveless marriage. I have also known other empaths who have ended up becoming completely numb – unable to cope with the negative energy, they simply cut themselves off from ALL energy and feel nothing at all. What a horrible (non) existence. Consequently, the aware empath would rather remain single than be in a negative relationship.

You will also be unable to tolerate work which is meaningless – what Barry Jaeger in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person calls ‘Drudgery’. Though many people are able to tolerate a dull job purely for the money, you are not one of them and if you make such a sacrifice, you will ultimately pay for it with your emotional, spiritual and physical health. The aware empath values their time, their well-being and meaningful work far more than they value money and consumer goods. Sadly, our society revolves around the masculine principles of economics whilst the more feminine attribute of empathy is often derided and neglected. And whoever dreamt up the work ethic certainly did not have people like us in mind – and was definitely not an empath.

The empath’s preference for meaningful work means that you will find many of us working in creative fields – the writer, the musician and the artist will often have this trait to some degree. Creativity is food for the soul for the empath and I personally find it vital to my well-being to use creativity in my work. I’ve done many jobs over the years but this is the only work I’ve truly enjoyed – even the more stressful and tedious aspects are easier to cope with when your work means something more to you than just a way of paying the bills.

As an empath, you will also benefit from periods of solitude to recuperate after any energy bombardment. In part one I discussed the difficulties for the empath of being in an urban environment. As I’ve got older (and empaths often become more sensitive to energies the older they become) I find that if I spend the day in a nearby town, I can only last a few hours before I have to get the hell out of there.

I also used to have what I call ‘brain in the jar’ moments. Before I recognised my trait, I would spend too much time amongst other people and become so overwhelmed, that it literally felt as if my head would explode. I would also find myself becoming overwhelmed by stressful situations or issues in my life. Whenever I felt like this, I would comment that I wished I could ‘take my brain out of my head and put it in a jar’, as a way of giving myself a break. At some subconscious level, obviously I knew what I needed – complete and utter sensory rest.

Fortunately I eventually recognised this need so I now make sure that I regularly recharge my own energy by spending time alone, meeting my need for time to contemplate, read, write and generally take care of myself – and my ‘brain in the jar’ moments no longer occur. I also realised that, for the same reasons, empaths need more sleep than most people. If you have commitments such as work and family, this can be easier said than done, but at least try and take half an hour to nap or lie in a dark, quiet room during the course of the day to revitalise yourself.  Some empaths are so unable to cope with energy onslaughts that they become recluses or hermits, but for most of us there is no need to go to this extreme, although time spent in retreat for a few days can be a positive thing now and again. This can be particularly useful for urban empaths, as time out in a tranquil rural environment can really give you a boost as well as indulge your passion for nature, which occurs naturally for many empaths.

Finding a pastime which absorbs you is also a good way of giving yourself a break. My personal favourite used to be jigsaws – you’ll find that  ‘geeky’ pastimes like model-making or stamp collecting are particularly good for this, as are creative pursuits such as gardening, painting, sculpting, or cookery. So long as it takes you out of your conscious mind for a while to give you time to balance your energy, any pastime you choose will do.

Basically then, the rule is to be your own best friend – take care of yourself, eat and sleep well and give yourself little treats now and again. Time spent relaxing with a good book in a local friendly coffee shop is my idea of bliss and is a really cheap and simple way to give yourself a lift and recharge your batteries. And remember to talk kindly to yourself – empaths tend to analyse everything and can end up being hypercritical of themselves. Whenever you catch yourself judging yourself harshly, ask yourself ‘Would I speak like this to my best friend? Would I tolerate my best friend saying this stuff to me?’ If not, then perhaps you need to reconsider.

Ultimately, self care is crucial. The more you nurture yourself, the more you will be open to the following benefits of being an empath.

 UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE – TELEPATHY, SYNCHRONICITIES AND DREAMS

Because of your high level of resonance, you will probably be tuned into the ‘universal energies’ or what Jung called the collective unconscious. This gives you a deep sense of knowing – you just ‘know’ things despite there being no rational explanation as to how you know – as well as a strong feeling of connection, which can lead to the spiritual belief that separation is an illusion and ‘we are all one’. This connection and knowing also opens us up to the ‘universal guidance’ which is contained within these energies, which is why many empaths are natural problem solvers, able to resolve any issue which they put their hearts, souls and minds into.

I mentioned in part one how my daughter and I are so close that as soon as we’re in each others energy range, I start to feel her physical symptoms. This energetic connection with others, often referred to as telepathy, is one of the fun aspects of being an empath. As well as those little tricks which many of us do such as thinking about someone just as they call you, or bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years the day after you thought about them, you may also find yourself connecting energetically with people in other less obvious ways. I find that I often tune into people I’m close to through my dreams, perhaps because my mind is more relaxed and therefore more receptive. For instance, if my daughter wakes before me in the morning and reads a book, I often have a dream which reflects the contents of that book in some way. A recent example was a dream I had about Glastonbury music festival one morning shortly before I woke. When I asked P what she had been reading, it turned out that there was a character in her book that had the nick-name ‘Glastonbury’! Even more bizarrely, I have even on occasion had the same dream as my daughter or my partner.

I also have prophetic dreams which you can read about in my blog entry The Magical World of Dreams. Empaths are often fascinated by dreams and we are natural dream analysts, due to our ability to see the deeper meaning in things and make lateral links using subtle details. This ability also works in the waking world too and helps us to interpret signs, symbols and archtypes, as well as synchronicities. Aware empaths delight in synchronicities and as our understanding of ourselves and our connection to the universe grows, we find that the universal guidance which appears in the form of synchronicities becomes ever more fluent and clear. You can read more about synchronicities in my blog entry So What Is Synchronicity?

PEOPLE AND OTHER ANIMALS

The aware empath is often described by others as ‘a beacon of light’. You will find that people are drawn to you and babies in particular will adore you – I often notice little children staring and smiling at me from their pushchairs when I’m out and about.

A similar thing can happen with animals. Empaths have a deep connection to animals and love to be around their energies. You may even find you prefer their company to that of people, as you feel animals – and their energies – are simpler and don’t have an agenda. Perhaps those ‘crazy cat ladies’ who prefer to live alone surrounded by felines are actually misunderstood empaths.

As an empath, you will also be able to resonate with the emotions of animals and unlike most people, you will view them as sentient beings who should have the same rights as humans. Because of this, many empaths become vegetarian or vegan at some point in their lives.

As far as people go, the empath makes a great friend for life, as we are loyal, warm and, humorous as well as very loving and affectionate. We are also good listeners, who are unembarrassed by strong emotion as well as being pretty much unshockable. However a healthy empath will have no tolerance for drama queens who seek attention through emotional behaviour. Though we are highly expressive about our feelings and ourselves, with the ability to share openly and honestly, we are also natural peacemakers, so prefer calm discussions to overwrought emotional spectacles or aggressive confrontations.

If you befriend an empath, then they will probably be your greatest champion. Empaths recognise your inner potential, so are able to identify your positive attributes and will remind you of your strengths when you forget you have them. (Paradoxically though, they often find it hard to take a compliment themselves.) They may also subtly alert you to any negative patterns in your life in a helpful and non-patronising way, as your empath friend has the ability to sift through all the confusing emotions you are experiencing which may be clouding the issue, to help you achieve clarity and find the root cause of your problem. And should they ever feel angry with you, you can rest assured that they will express this without attacking you personally – empaths are not judgmental and they recognise that just because a particular behaviour is bad, it does not mean that the person is bad too.

YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Being an empath means you have the ability to sense the truth behind someone’s facade. You intuitively know when someone is attempting to mask a negative emotion. One theory is that when we are in the presence of an emotion we have personally experienced, we recognise it and feel it within ourselves, due to our high level of internal resonance. The empath is also able to read body language, mostly at a subconscious level – you will pick up on things like tone of voice, body movements, the words people choose when they speak, the words they avoid, the logic they use – all factors which help you to tune into others and know things about them which other people probably miss. This also makes you very difficult to lie to! Not only are you able to detect a lie, you can also tell whether the intent behind that lie is malicious and selfish, or whether it’s a white lie, told in an attempt to protect someone else.

Empaths are also highly expressive themselves. They project an incredible amount of energy releasing their emotions, with many gesticulations, and as they are so open about themselves, the empath is usually the person of whom it is said that you can ‘read them like a book’. We also delight in using our bodies in a sensual way – empaths can literally become ‘lost in music’ when they dance, their bodies becoming one with the music to create one wonderful mass of  flowing, sensual energy.

NATURAL HEALERS

As you become aware of your empathy, you will recognise more and more how sensitive this makes you to the energies around you. The fact is that as an empath, energy is literally absorbed by you far more easily than more thick-skinned folk (hence the expression) so by increasing your awareness, you will be able to be more selective about which energies you allow yourself to absorb. This also means you will be able to experience a high level of resonance with another, without being overwhelmed by a multitude of outside influences.

When you have achieved this level of balance and awareness, you will find that all your empathic qualities as discussed above – your deep inner knowing, your connection to the universal energies and so on – make you a natural healer and counsellor. Indeed, for an empath a good way of sublimating the energy we talked about in part one – which attracts the energy vampires and lame ducks – and drawing boundaries around your own propensity to give of yourself to others, is to channel it into training in a helping or healing profession.

Being counselled by an empath is an amazing and life-changing experience. After just a few hours of conversation, you will feel as if the empath knows you inside out. This is due to the afore-mentioned ability for high emotional resonance, which allows the empath to tune into your energy and emotional state, giving them an uncanny ability to pinpoint what you most need and want. They will also ask the questions others may be afraid to ask – if you’re willing to face up to some possibly uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life and recognise your negative self-destructive patterns in order to grow and be true to the real you, then working with an empath will change your life.  An empath will not shy away from talking about feelings of loss either, and will help you to gain perspective on your issue as well as heal from emotional wounds, past and present.

In addition to helping you to heal, the empath will point out strengths and abilities you perhaps never realised you had. Personal empowerment is very important to the empath so they will always respect your courage and sense of determination to survive and will trust in your ability to heal and take care of yourself. All this creates a very safe environment with a high level of trust and a strong intimacy. The relationship between an empath and their client is more than just a business transaction – an authentic and caring relationship will be formed between you as the empath helps you to be your best self and to live the truth of who that best self is.

Empaths may also find themselves being drawn to other types of healing work directly involving energy, such as Reiki. With our natural ability to tune into the universal energy, learning to channel this energy through ourselves to help others is a path which many empaths naturally gravitate towards.

I do hope this article has helped you to understand your trait a little better. If you feel that anything here resonates with you, do please leave a comment – I would love to hear from you!

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On Being An Empath (part one)

May 28, 2012

Part One – The Difficulties

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this. – Merriam-Webster dictionary

Most people have the ability to be empathic to some degree. As an empath, however, your capacity for empathy is significantly greater than the average person – in fact, you are probably highly sensitive to the point of appearing to others to have psychic gifts.

The reality is that you have high emotional resonance, rendering you very sensitive to emotional energy. Everything has an energetic vibration which the empath picks up, just like an antenna picks up frequencies. This means you are able to detect and amplify the subtlest of changes which would bypass most people – essentially, you are the person who walks into a room and immediately picks up ‘the vibes’ (vibrations), be they positive or negative.

You will also be able to ‘feel’ the emotions of people around you – and the danger here, if you’re still unaware of your increased empathy, is that you can end up believing that these emotions are your own. Before I recognised this phenomenon, I would actively seek out – or even create – issues, to pin these rogue feelings onto something concrete – “Hmmm, I seem to be feeling a bit low today, I wonder why that is? Maybe I’m unhappy about my relationship/career/friends/family/ cat?”  After all, if you’re feeling so bad, surely there must be a reason? There is, of course, but often the only reason is your high level of empathy.

IT’S NOT EASY BEING EMPATHIC

Your high emotional resonance can also make it difficult for you to spend time in an urban, or indeed any over-populated environment. If you ever find yourself caught up in a crowd, you are likely to be surrounded by emotions such as excitement, confusion, anxiety and anger, resulting in you suddenly expressing these same feelings for no obvious reason. You may also find that the energy which builds up when you’ve spent some time amongst a huge throng of people is so overwhelming that you end up feeling physically ill – headaches, giddiness, nausea and high blood pressure are not unusual symptoms for the empath swamped with excessive emotional energy. This is why many of us prefer to live in a rural environment – the energy in a built-up, heavily populated area is just too much for us.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD…

Because we react so strongly to high-intensity environments, we may find others disparagingly labelling us as ‘oversensitive’. In fact, until you learn how to protect yourself from such bombardment, that’s exactly what you are. However, this is of little comfort when you don’t feel accepted or understood by those you love and who love you, or when people dismiss you as being ‘just too sensitive’. (I heard this everywhere – even one of my school reports remarked that ‘Sharon is sensitive – occasionally overly so’.)

 Those empaths who are lucky enough to have people around them who are aware of their trait will be more likely to have positive self-esteem and accept and express their natural talents and abilities. Their sensitivity will be embraced and as a consequence, these empaths will grow up to use their empathic gifts confidently and wisely. Unfortunately, in our current society the most likely scenario is that the child will be chastised, mocked and exploited for their sensitivity, and bullied and pushed in directions which please others rather than themselves. The inevitable result of this, of course, is chronic low self-esteem. These empaths will then either rebel and become one of society’s drop-outs or misfits – not always a bad thing if this means they stay in touch with their creativity – or over conform and become yet another of society’s depressed drones. I recently had a dream that I was one of the few ‘real’ humans left in a world populated by zombies. As I spent many unhappy years actually being one of the ‘zombies’ myself, doing what was expected of me rather than what was best for me, the dream was much more uplifting than it perhaps sounds.

BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE?

As an empath, adolescence can be a particularly difficult time in your life. Already dealing with your own rollercoaster of emotions, if you attended (or still attend) one of the average high schools within the Western world’s education system, you are also surrounded by anything up to 1500 other young people, all wrestling with over-energised hormones and a maelstrom of unfamiliar feelings. You’re also in for a rude awakening, as you realise through bitter experience that not all people are as thoughtful and well-mannered as you are.

I personally found the first few years at secondary school so traumatic, that to this day I refer to it as ‘doing my time’. I struggled to grasp the social rituals and game playing which occurs in friendships between little girls, and instead naively believed that others valued friendship in the same way I did. I therefore failed to understand that you were meant to switch best friends at least once a week, and was genuinely devastated when the friend of my choice fell out with me in my first year. (The unaware empath is always heartbroken when their friendship is abused or betrayed.)

 My lack of guile seriously affected my friendships for the next three years, and I ended up spending most of that time hiding away in a corner with a book, wistfully escaping into the fantasy worlds of my novels.  Unfortunately, being alone and obviously sensitive also made me an obvious target for bullies as my high sensitivity usually provoked a physical and emotional expression of my pain. I was also less likely to fight back due to a genuine aversion to conflict, particularly of a violent nature, and my natural inclination towards peaceful and harmonious relations.

My daughter is also highly empathic and as soon as she began to have regular social interaction with her peer group, she demonstrated a reluctance to defend herself when other children were mean to her – “I don’t want to hurt their feelings”. Thanks to my own experiences, I’ve had the foresight to teach her basic assertiveness skills from the age of three, the gist of my advice being: “Don’t worry about people liking you – just make sure they respect you.  If people respect you, chances are they’ll also like you, but if for some reason they don’t like you – most probably due to a projection of their own insecurities – if you have their (albeit grudging) respect, then they’ll simply stay out of your way.”

HANDLING SOCIAL INTERACTION

Because of my experiences at school, in my late teens and early twenties I mostly avoided female friendships, preferring to have simpler male friendships minus the bitchiness and games. I was much happier being around people who appreciated me and did not diminish me in any way for who I was. As the years go by, I’ve become even more selective about my friendships – I have a handful of close friends (men and women), and am not afraid to ditch any relationships which are detrimental to my well-being.

The aware empath also learns how to avoid negative people and sniff out those bad apples by following their intuition. Experience has taught me to always go with my first impression – never ignore that gut feeling! If I’ve ever made the mistake of giving the benefit of the doubt to characters who initially strike me as dubious, I’ve always been badly burned as a result.

Another distressing social problem empaths can have is people taking an instant dislike to you, apropos of nothing. This is often because as empaths we have very light energy, which naturally repels those people with darker energy. Until you learn not to take this personally and understand that the problem lies with the other person and not you, it can be very hurtful to be on the receiving end of undeserved contempt. Some people are also intimidated by the intensity involved in a relationship with you as not everyone want to explore their inner self – a natural tendency for you – so this can sometimes frighten people away for what seems like no obvious reason. Ever had a friendship which seemed to be going just fine then suddenly the other person stops returning your calls? Chances are that person just couldn’t handle the manifestations of your gift.

 SEXUAL BOUNDARIES

Dealing with other people’s sexual energy can lead to some serious difficulties for the unaware empath. This can be particularly tough during adolescence as not only are you surrounded by people whose hormones are going crazy, resulting in you being energetically overwhelmed by a multitude of unrestrained libidos, you are likely to still be somewhat unworldly. Your vulnerability and naivety coupled with your compassion and sensitivity can make you an unwitting target for all manner of sexual predators – female empaths in particular can suffer real trauma due to abuse of their sexual boundaries. As unaware empaths are also more likely to use drink or drugs for Dutch courage and to lessen the impact of excessive stimuli in social situations, you can see how the combination of all these factors can be a recipe for disaster.

ENERGY VAMPIRES AND THE ‘LAME DUCK’ SYNDROME

Until you become aware that you are an empath and learn how to protect yourself, you will find yourself being leeched on by energy vampires due to your natural compassion. Even strangers will be drawn to you, as people intuitively feel that you will empathise and offer support without judging them, so seek you out for advice or simply to vent. Equally, you seem to naturally gravitate towards people in pain. Unfortunately this can result in you being a constant victim of the ‘lame duck syndrome’, collecting all manner of troubled folk who you’ve shown some compassion for.

 THE SHY LONER

In an attempt to resolve their social difficulties, some empaths become withdrawn and quiet, in some cases to the point of completely isolating themselves and becoming a loner or a recluse. Others become depressed or anxious, maybe even developing social phobias to (subconsciously) give them a valid excuse for avoiding social activities. I’ve been very shy at certain stages in my life, though only people who genuinely resonate with me recognise this trait in me, as I have learned to disguise it very well – and not always in the healthiest of ways. As I mentioned previously, a number of empaths sadly deal with their shyness by hiding behind drugs or alcohol, which can ultimately create more problems than it actually solves.

POTENTIAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

When you are unaware of your trait, you can become swamped by emotions, mostly those of other people. Society soon makes it clear that expressing emotions is bad, so consequently you have no suitable channel or outlet for the excessive emotional energy you’re carrying. The potential outcome of this blocked energy is that you could become emotionally unstable (acting out past pains over and over with just a change of the central cast now and again, to try and shift the blockage) – or at worst, you could end up having a mental breakdown.  It’s easy to see why an unaware empath, battling their way through life, may be tempted to take an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) such as Prozac, to reduce their arousal levels for a while and give themselves a break. (See Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive and Thrive When the World Overwhelms You for more on this – there’s a whole chapter about the pros and cons towards the end).

Medicating yourself works to a point but the downside is that as well as losing the negative aspects of your sensitivity, you also lose some of  the positive ones (which are worth it, believe me). For this reason, I believe it’s best used either as a short-term solution until you come to terms with your trait and learn how to handle it, or as an emergency treatment, for no longer than six months, if life conspires against you and it all becomes too much.

 PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS

Some empaths put on weight to use as a ‘buffer’ between themselves and the world. I found that when I felt depressed and trapped (for example, when in a dull relationship or job)  I put too much weight on, but if under extreme stress – if suddenly thrust into a high-intensity environment or situation, be it personally or professionally – it dropped off me extremely rapidly. This ‘yo-yoing’ of my weight was not good for my health, but ultimately gave me another impetus for learning more about how to handle being an empath. You may also find yourself suffering from other physical manifestations – diseases and disorders – as blocked emotional energy tries to find an outlet through your body. (You can read more about this, and get links to relevant books, in the mind/body connection articles featured in the Empathic Guidance blog).

You are probably more physically sensitive than others too, and may find yourself having allergic reactions to anything and everything – cosmetic products, chemicals in food, detergents, pollen, dust, fur etc – resulting in symptoms such as sneezing, asthma, hives and stomach problems. This physical sensitivity means you may also feel other people’s physical pain, as well as the emotional stuff, particularly if you have a close connection. On more than one occasion, I’ve gone to collect my daughter from somewhere and the minute she is in my presence, I will suddenly get a strange ache in my stomach or my head – only for her to tell me that she’s not been feeling so well and has a stomach/headache.

 THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD

Our empathy is not just limited to those around us – it’s also global. The empath can hardly bear to watch violence and will weep for the pain and suffering in the world. Your high level of compassion means that you probably find it impossible to comprehend the cruelty, ignorance and narrow minded attitudes of others. I remember my dad telling me as a child that Pete Duel, who I loved to watch in the 70s TV show   ‘Alias Smith and Jones’, had killed himself because ‘he took the weight of the world on his shoulders’, and as I grew up I began to realise why I had been strangely drawn to this man, as I too experienced some of the pain Pete must have felt.  (Pete’s story is a tragic testament to the life of an unaware empath – it’s worth checking out if you want to know more about this subject.)

My advice to those of you who also know this feeling only too well is do your best to avoid news programmes until you can handle it – I did this for a while whilst developing my inner strength and now limit myself to a quick scan of the headlines which automatically pop up on my homepage and occasionally reading The Guardian. Even then, I tend to stick to the stories which relate to my work or my life in some way. Empaths also prefer not to watch violent or gory films – though on occasion you may enjoy a psychological thriller. I liked Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ even though it scared me half to death, because (aged 15) I thought the plot twist was clever and weird. Empaths enjoy anything that involves creative or lateral thinking.

 BECOMING AWARE

Fortunately, more and more people are gaining self-awareness about their gift and are learning how to heal their wounds and nurture themselves. The empath often becomes aware after a number of strange experiences, which can suddenly launch them into an awakening period and provide the impetus for a journey of self-discovery. Often this experience can be dramatic, life-altering and very memorable for you throughout your life.

 For me, the turning-point was unexpectedly losing my full-time job (albeit one I was thoroughly miserable in) on 10 April 1995. After the initial ego panic about how I would survive, I decided to take some time out to find out what I really wanted. Following a series of weird but wonderful synchronicities, I realised I had to stop working in meaningless jobs for the sake of earning a living and fulfilling someone else’s work ethic, and find out what really fulfilled me. I began to listen to my inner guidance’s urge to seek awareness, balance and authenticity and thus started my journey on the holistic path. And as I’ve discovered, when you feel centred and whole, you gain the inner freedom to utilise and explore the positive aspects of being an empath.

 In part two, I’ll offer some tips on how to nurture yourself and make the most of your trait for those of you who identify with being an empath, and discuss the delights of being a highly empathic person.

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Wake up! Why our education system isn’t working

April 4, 2012

In my work, I talk a lot about ‘waking up’ and in this post I’m going to discuss how we end up becoming one of the ‘asleeple’  in the first place. Because the fact is, we’re not born ‘asleep’ – it’s a lifelong process of ‘training’ also known as ‘socialisation’, beginning as soon as we’re able to reasonably function in ‘civilised’ society. All young children are intellectually free and emotionally alive. But in our so-called developed world, it’s impossible to be an adult and retain the creativity and spontaneity of a three year old without being labelled mad or personality disordered – unless you’re employed as an artist of some kind. In fact, these childlike attributes are the cornerstone of mental well-being but instead, as soon as you can walk, talk and adequately use a toilet, these traits are beaten out of you and you’re indoctrinated into becoming a useful tool in our economic system.

‘Education’ is not really about teaching the things that you really need and want to know. What you’re learning is the stuff that the people who control everything ie the people with the most money, want you to know. These big business people who control our economy need a few highly educated people to do the brain work and a larger number of less well-educated people to do the grunt work. Therefore the system is geared towards churning out these two types, rather than catering for each person’s individual needs.

Look up ‘school’ in the dictionary and the definition will inevitably begin with the word ‘institution’. And this is exactly what school is – an institution, much like a prison or a children’s home, governed by a strict set of rules. (Whenever I refer to my school years, I talk about having ‘done my time’ because this is exactly how it felt – forced to attend the same place, day in, day out, and resigned to suffering bullying and boredom for years on end.) The rules are designed to make life simpler for the authorities by imposing their ideas of conformity on you – stand in line, no talking, short hair and other dress codes – and to teach you to unquestioningly obey authority. Teachers are given a lot of power over you and you are taught to obey them and all your ‘elders and betters’. The word ‘respect’ is used a lot – the teachers are apparently teaching you ‘respect’ rather than ‘obedience’ – but how can you truly respect someone who is showing little or no respect for you?

The problem with most teachers of course is that they too are ‘asleep’. Being asleep, they believe in the idea that everything is separate and have long since lost touch with their real selves. The focus is on competition – who is the best, who’s getting the highest grades – and the belief that true worth consists of being better and having more than the separate ‘other’. Consequently, children lose their intrinsic sense of the universal and their community values and learn instead to play the game of differentiation and dissociation, the punishment for refusing to play being abandonment and rejection. Their true self recedes into the shadow where it goes to sleep, often for the rest of their lives, and is replaced by a false self, developed to fit in with what others need you to be, but leaving you with a feeling of disconnection and dissatisfaction which can only be temporarily assuaged by external trappings, rewards for playing the game.

In school, these trappings take the form of grades and exams. Grades are used as a bribe to get you to do the things you don’t want to do – you work for the good grades and not because you’re interested in what you’re doing. Grades become an end in themselves, much like money in the outside world. The people with the best grades (or the most money) are perceived as the best people, regardless of the methods used to gain them and what they’re really like as people. In a similar fashion, exams don’t show how creative or intelligent you actually are – all they demonstrate is who is good at exams ie capable of trotting out parrot-fashion the information which has been drilled into them. During my time at school, I did many exams and received good grades in them all – and cannot remember a single thing that I supposedly ‘learned’.

And then of course, there is the ‘lower hierarchy’ – the one which develops amongst the pupils themselves. Here the trappings are social and psychological and the winners of this game are the ones who have learned to play the other game – the game of differentiation – the best. The children who have the least empathy – who are therefore more ‘separate’ – are the ones who will race to the top of this particular hierarchy. The less you care – or appear to care – about others, the more popular you will be. And the more you conform to the standards our society ascribes to be the best – for example, the more glamorous you are as a girl or the more sporty you are as a boy – the better your chances of being perceived as ‘popular’. Anyone who fails to play the game properly by being ‘too sensitive’ or ‘too different’ must be prepared to suffer the consequences. I am never surprised when I hear of yet another high school shooting. Doug Stanhope summed this up best in one of his stand-up routines:

“High school is horrible. I quit in ninth grade and it was the best thing I ever did. After every school shooting, parents come on television and say: `Rap music is the problem. And drugs. And the lack of metal detectors.’ No. The problem is that a lot of your kids are aggressive dicks and you won’t do shit about it. That’s the problem. You never hear these parents say: `It’s terrible that Andy Williams shot up Santana High School, but I accept it was also our boy Ethan’s fault, because he was a sadistic prick to that kid. Tell that to the cameras, Ethan. Tell them how you pulled Andy’s pants down, then pushed his head down the toilet.’ I never hear that on the news.
Williams was this frail little kid who was bullied, and shot up his school. George W Bush came on the news and called it `the ultimate act of cowardice’. “Cowardice? The ultimate act of cowardice is the fat-headed wrestling guy sitting behind the frail kid in math class, clipping him on the ear, saying: `What are you going to do about that, faggot?’ That is cowardice. When the bullets start flying past that jock’s saucer-shaped ears, that’s not cowardice. That’s payback.”

Ok, so I’m certainly not advocating that every bullied kid should get out there and start shooting the place up. But why are we so shocked when every once in a while someone is pushed over the edge because we’ve brought up our children to believe in differentiation and worship those who conform to our society’s idea of ‘the best’ whilst demeaning and rejecting those who don’t? When the people at the top of these man-made pyramids of power show little respect for those at the bottom, why are they so horrified when the people at the bottom show little respect for them? (You can read more on this in this blog post about last year’s riots in the UK here: https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/london-riots-remember-this/)

Home-schooling is on the increase, as is a form of education called ‘unschooling’ where the child’s natural interests are followed and developed. Unlike the school system, these forms of education consider the needs of the individual child, rather than just teaching them what the authorities feel you need to know to join the ‘asleeple’. School is simply a mirror image of our society, a society built on economic power, and a society which is founded on the idea that people exist for the sake of big business, not the other way round. The majority of changes which have taken place in this system are geared towards the people who have the power keeping that power. A recent example of this is the introduction of student loans. By taking on one of these loans, you’re effectively shackling yourself to the economic system before you’ve even dipped a toe into the waters of employment. Interesting, isn’t it, that these loans were introduced round about the same time that property prices zoomed into the stratosphere, making it increasingly difficult for people to be shackled to the system by a mortgage? The powers-that-be will always find a way to get you stuck in that dead-end job, the one that fills their coffers whilst simultaneously depleting yours, with no visible means of escape. Interesting, too, that this system was introduced after the people currently in power had already taken advantage of the ‘free higher education for all’ offered pre-1991.

The majority of degrees these days are not even worth the paper they’re printed on. A degree requires little more than a good memory and an ability to assimilate the academic orthodoxy of the day, which is why employers favour graduates, regardless of the field of study. As you’ve already proved yourself to be biddable and unquestioning, as far as employers are concerned, you’re ideal corporate material. And don’t assume that you’ll be financially rewarded either – graduates now earn only £140,000 more over their lifetime than non-graduates, instead of the £400,000 previously. They also pay back thousands more in tax than their degree will have cost. Furthermore, the higher the education, the cheaper the ‘citizen’ is to the government in terms of benefits (less chance of unemployment) and NHS costs (less illness). Increased levels of student debt, thanks to introduction of  exorbitant fees, also encourage graduates to go for the highest paid available job, rather than going into further study, volunteering or jobs that aren’t necessarily so well remunerated, meaning once again the economic system is the ultimate beneficiary. This introduction of market forces into higher education also results in the selection criteria of universities being based on a student’s bank balance not academic ability. Thanks to the creation of a two-tier education system, the gulf between the haves and the have-nots is widening more and more each day.

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