Please don’t call yourself an empath

Susan Raffo
9 min readMar 24, 2019
From Massimo Franceschet

Before you begin, hold on a second. I used that headline to get your attention. But now, I want to put aside any kind of call out or self-righteous I-know-better moment. Instead, I want to link arms with you and go sit on the couch together. I want to sort something out and I’d rather do it with you than fight about terms and meaning. This is me, sitting next to you, and asking for help in sorting through something.

About a year ago, I had a bodywork experience that, for a few days, completely changed how I experienced life. I was the one receiving bodywork from someone else. The session felt like a clearing, like one of the most spiritual body experiences I have yet had. After it, I could see cells. This lasted for three or four days, but during that time, when I sat across from someone in the bodywork room and directed my attention to some part of their physical body, their tissues would become translucent. I could see the cells moving, see where the restriction was, where blood or lymph was not flowing. It was as clear as the image on this blog post.

Sitting across from the person, I knew exactly where to touch, what kind of touch, and when to let go. This wasn’t because I was suddenly smarter. It was because I could hear/see/sense the person’s body more fully.

I had taken no drugs. I had not fasted or made any special prayers or learned any new techniques. Instead, I had received a bodywork session that felt as though a whole bunch of shit had just cleared out of my system.

I shared what was happening with a friend; a healer who teaches me. I shared what was happening with an elder; someone I deeply respect. They both said the same thing, “Susan, there is nothing unusual about what you are describing. This kind of thing is happening all of the time. It is happening all of the time. It is happening right now. The only problem is that we have forgotten how to feel it. We are the ones in the way of this kind of connection. This is what systems of oppression and dominance are set up to prevent, it’s what we have to wade through and change to find our way back to life.”

After a few days, this vision faded back to where my eyes see only the skin, even as touch and sensing can sometimes experience more. But it’s still there, the feeling and memory of it, the…



Susan Raffo

Thinking about the healing in justice and the justice in healing.