When working with clients in giving a massage, we will stir up "issues" that have emotional connections: sore muscles, injury, stress, etc etc. We are "sensing" the areas in a client's body where they hold stress /tension. We must take care to not "take these on" within our own minds and into our own bodies. That would be having "sympathy". You want to fix a client to the point of "integrating" their stresses and claiming as your own.
Empathy, is in recognizing the issue in the client with respect and acknowledgement, working on the issue to the best of our experience/training/techniques (our hands are our tools so each of us is uniquely equipped), and not taking on what your hands and mind are aware of; or, what the client may express or share as they release their issues / tensions. The issue is the client's issue. Who among us has not experienced a situation that has made us "tense up" (and for some working environments, this is continual to adrenal exhaustion); or, felt the loss of love, grief, anger, etc. We identify; and as such, are more easily subject to wanting to take-on another person's stuff.
Emotional states are endless; and as an Empath, I can sense the vibe from people even when I am not standing in their field of energy. This is another level of being. Some people are "just that sensitive" and may even have been categorized in some way relating to being overly sensitive, too much into drama, reactive, etc. You may not recognize it within yourself, define it (own it), so you can work with it and "not take on" what isn't yours. Often, this type of sensitivity is given to being "female"in nature. If a man is an Empath and is sensitive, he may be accused of being gay, or too soft, or...? Our society has so many ways of encouraging people to "not sense beyond themselves" and to "not trust themselves". First step is to know you are that sensitive; and then, you can learn techniques to clear and stand strong in your own identity without taking on the stuff that doesn't belong to you. Whether you identify or not. I celebrate the growth of consciousness and acceptance. An Empath has to take the time to stop and assess the vibration that is their own (particularly relative to emotions) and separate that from what you have "collected" in your day's experiences.
Massage offers the time to "get the knots worked out" and take assessment of our "state of being". That's the work we can do within ourselves facilitated by an experienced, empathetic therapist. I like to say that I "sculpt bodies" since I am sensing beyond the layer of flesh to how the bodies tensions connect to the person's emotions or mental state. Reaching to unwind the knot that may have developed from excess exercise, sleeping in a bad position, being in a tense situation, grief from a loss, etc. Sculpting the bodies (physical, emotional, mental) to a place and state of balance within. Standing in reach of this shifting that clients make, is a great honor.
What are your thoughts on being an Empath? Have you known and empathic person?