Emotions are a creation of your mind. I say it serves us all to practice controlling the constant chatter of our brains. Most of the time, what comes out of our heads is a hinderance to our spiritual development. They's why many people suggest meditation techniques. Once a person learns to get out of their brains and into their body, they learn how silly their brains cam be, what ridiculous stories and drama we *make up*, and we learn that our emotions can't always (usually) be trusted. They are mere reactions.
To me, the most important learning from meditation is that we are not the sum of our thinking brain. Meditation develops an "observer," someone who is observing the chatter of our brain, someone who is observing the emotional reactions. If we are not our thoughts or our emotions, then they have no control over ourselves. They are simply one facet, not the end all be all of who we are. This is a priceless treasure to cultivate.
I agree with what WhiteRav3n posted. One of my teachers says that empathy (as well as other psychic phenomenon) is sloppy energetic skills and sloppy sensory skills. You may disagree with that, which is fine, but i have found it very helpful to my learning.
There are three unhelpful energetic "techniques" that most beginners are subject to: blending, streaming, and channeling. When i say they are "unhelpful," i mean they are of no use unless you are doing them intentionally. The problem lies when people do these three things by default, and this is very common.
The one i'll talk about now is blending, because that's the one that i have experienced to cause the most problems with beginners. It often is accompanied by unwanted "empathy" hits and unwanted "psychic" hits.
Blending is when your energetic field mixes in an unintentional manner with others around you. By allowing your field to blend, it is possible for anyone to pick up information about others' psychic whatnot. Again, unless you are doing this intentionally and momentarily, this is not a positive thing. All sorts of psychic garbage can be picked up leading to health issues, psychic issues, and in some extreme cases, mental health issues. Most experienced practitioners certainly will have collected a few horror stories along these lines.
All energy workers, i say, should instead practice a technique called "interface." This is where you clearly know where your energy begins and ends and where another person begins and ends. When you are in interface, you know what is your own "stuff" and what is another persons' stuff. The applications for this are unending.
Two tips: when touching a person, pay attention to the point of contact between you and the other person. Pay attention to the sensory phenomenon - how their skin feels, temperature, etc. Don't get lost in the "blending" between you two. This technique is often not taught in energy healing, and that's a darn shame. A lot of healers would prevent burn-out by staying in interface.
Second, if you feel you are blending already, in order to break the connection, look at the person and think of five differences between you and that other person. Perhaps you are a girl and he is a man, perhaps he has blonde hair and you have black hair, etc. This helps to break the blending.
Of course, gaining a better understanding and sensory perception of your own energy field takes a lot of work, but i say it's time well-spent. Meditation, tai chi, qigong, kundalini yoga, etc. are all good teachers.
Interesting post and discussion. Thanks all.