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On a scale of 1 to 10, how much empathetic perception are you using when you say “I feel your pain”?

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Coco the empathetically perceptive canine

My furry friend and Muse, Coco and I share a special relationship. We go for walks together, watch Master Chef Australia when in season, do Doga and play with the soft toys that she has in her basket. But more importantly, we provide each other with companionship and support nourished by mutual empathetic perception. We understand each other’s world.

A recent example of empathetic perception came up this week when my internet service provider upgraded their server last Sunday rendering connectivity near to impossible for the whole week. In a day and age where internet connectivity is as important as having a telephone connection was 30 years ago, my situation was not a happy one. The customer service kept saying “I feel your pain/situation/” but did not sound as if they did. Coco however, knew otherwise. Whenever I tried my multiple attempts to logon and get a connection, she would sit by my feet and sensing my frustration when I could not get through, bring out different toys and place them at my feet. No demands to play, just demonstrations that she was willing to share her toys to make me feel better.


She stepped into my world and demonstrated empathetic perception, which requires becoming the other person, experiencing their consciousness and the sensations that they experience. In other words, see, feel and experience the world the way they experience it.


We humans can acquire empathetic perception too using visualization – leaving our body and putting aside our experience of our Self, beliefs and our perspectives and try to feel the other person’s existence and perspectives in our Self. See and feel the world the way they experience it.


Today, I am sharing a simple exercise to develop this skill and ability to demonstrate empathetic perception. Once developed, this skill is yours forever and can be used in different situations to help and guide those whom you meet during the course of your journey through life.

An exercise to develop empathetic perception

The best way to do this exercise is to go to a garden or park; surround yourself with nature and other life forms. Select a time and quiet place where you will not be disturbed during your practice. I also suggest drinking a glass of water first to calm your emotions and then, close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths. Visualize a white cleansing smoke entering your body and with each exhalation, it is carrying out any perceptions, beliefs and conditioning that might interfere with your practice of empathetic perception.


Choose a living object to focus on. It could be a tree, a flower, bird (if still enough), squirrel, cat, dog etc. With your eyes open and gazing gently upon the life form, merge with, visualize and become this life form for 3 to 5 minutes. Allow whatever thoughts and impressions arise in your mind to come, but keep your attention on your chosen object; visualizing and becoming it. Do this daily for a week. You might want to also keep a journal to record your experiences.


The results might surprise you if you chose to this exercise with small animals. Contrary to what you might have heard or read before, animals do have thoughts; the Tibetan Buddhists have known this for a long time. Visualizing on the animal their thoughts will become apparent to you. Pet parents often say that they know exactly what their pet kid is thinking without exchanging any verbal communication. The empathetic alignment is so strong in this case, that both parties are able to communicate through thoughts!


With practice, you will be able to use this skill in understanding your fellow human being companions and enriching your relationships with them. In sensitive times, a word or sentence spoken innocently can be taken wrongly. Sometimes a hug works better than telling the person going through their pain that you understand their pain. That is a no-no.


Pain, frustration and grief are very personal, our lives are lived through our perception. Before you tell someone that you ‘feel’ their pain or know what they are going through, make sure that you are actually able to feel and understand the other person’s situation.


I invite you to try this exercise and see how it works. I also invite you to come back and share your experiences with me. 
Written by:    Vatsala Shukla

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6 Responses to “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much empathetic perception are you using when you say “I feel your pain”?”

  1. Ahh I know what you mean when you say that your dog can empathize with you. My little guy knows when I’m having a good day and when I’m not. On those less than good days he stays close to me.

    There is such a big difference in a script where customer reps say “I feel your pain” and truly being able to understand on a deep level.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Hi Stephanie! Indeed we can learn a lot from our canine kids and other animals who use their perceptive skills far better than humans who tend to get logical. 🙂 It is easy to say ‘I feel your pain’ but to actually empathize requires putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes and feeling their feelings and reality. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Debra Jason says:

    Like you & Stephanie, I believe my dog could empathize with me. He knew when things were not right and I could tell when he seemed depressed.
    I often think of him and how sensitive he was to not only me, but to others he came in contact with.

    The temperatures here are too cold right now for sitting out in a park, but when the weather is warm I often take myself to the park. I go to the playground and swing on the swings like a child. And, other times, look up at the clouds and their formations.
    Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes is not always easy, but definitely a good idea. I think our ability to do that would help most of us be less judgmental.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Hi Debra! Dogs tend to excel in empathetic perception because logic does not color their view of the world and acting from instinct, they are able to delve deeper into the psyche than us humans who will use their mind to logically explain anything that does not match their conditioned responses. The beauty of the exercise I outlined is that it helps us to get closer to our inner self and from this place, we are able to see the world from another’s perspective. I often sit in the garden with Coco after our long walks and while she rolls in the grass, I select a bush or tree and observe it. Amazing as it might sound, I have seen leaves move when there is no wind blowing. As if they are are adjusting to receive more sunlight!

  3. Sue says:

    Vatsala, what a wonderful article……my animals have always known exactly when I need to feel better…..and while I wish I could say the same for my human friends, sadly only a few really can “feel my pain” or even come close to understanding. I always try to understand others feelings and there are a few instances when I can feel their pain due to similar circumstances……I’m always willing to listen. I think that’s usually all most need…

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you Sue! Empathetic perception is possible with select people with whom one has shared experiences. The art of Listening is a valuable skill in enhancing empathetic perception. More power to you!

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