Wrapped in a Warm Blanket Episode 16 The Path to Empathy


Angelina Jordan Podcast

EPISODE 16 The Path to Empathy

‘Sympathy is when you rationally understand how another person is feeling. Empathy is when you feel like another person is feeling.’

Has the nature of the love that Angelina Jordan experienced been so wonderful and so opening for her that she became an empath?

The real genius and delight that Angelina Jordan has is that she can translate that quality of empathy into her artistry and then have it impact us in the same way.

Alan: Hello, Pontus

Pontus: Hi Alan.

Alan: I wonder what we should talk about tonight. What do you think?

Pontus: I think we should talk about what we always talk about Angelina Jordan, of course. How could you forget?

Alan: Yeah, I’m so busy making Angelina Jordan videos that I forget about Angelina Jordan conversations.

Pontus: Those are most, most important.

Alan: I don’t think we’ve recovered from last week’s interview with, Koach Ren. In fact, the implications, the ripples in the pond from that one are still rippling out.

Pontus: Yeah, I agree. That was a very nice experience with, Koach Ren. Yeah. He said all the right things, those things that are not easily explained.

Alan: And that’s exactly why we have this podcast, because there are so many different ways of explaining something that it could just be beyond our imagination and we need other people’s imaginations to give us more explanations.

Pontus: Yeah, I think so too. His experience was really an eye-opener that, ‘Oh, there is something going on that is beyond music, beyond Angelina just being a great singer’. There is something else at play here.

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Alan: If you will allow me to quote from the Bible. There was a moment where the scales fell from my eyes. And that was the moment when I was suggesting to him that it was Angelina Jordan’s sense of being a musician and all of her musicianship and all that involved why she was really, really special. And he came up with another suggestion. He said, ‘Actually, she is a true empath’. And as soon as he said that, that felt so right to me, and it felt a much better explanation than what I had thought. And that immediately for me hit the nail on the head.

Pontus: Yeah. Yeah. But, what is an empath really?

Alan: Well, I asked that same question to Mr. Google because, in preparation for this conversation, I thought, I want to get the exact nuance and exact shade of meaning. For example, one of the things I asked was, ‘What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?’ And in fact, I didn’t know, there was even such a word as an empath. I knew the word empathy, but I didn’t know that a person who has a lot of empathy was called an empath. So a lot of this was like new vocabulary for me as well.
So when I went to Google and the distinction between empathy and sympathy, they simply made it very clear, and they said, ‘Sympathy is when you rationally understand how another person is feeling, but empathy is when you feel like another person is feeling’. So for example, the expressions in the English language is ‘I feel for you’ or ‘I feel like you’, or ‘I feel with you’. It’s a very, very different process than, just having it in between your ears or having it in your heart.

Pontus: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I’m reminded of an article I read about mirror neurons. Have you heard about mirror neurons?

Alan: I’ve heard of motor neurons.

Pontus: Yeah. it’s correct that you say there are motor neurons. And then there are sensory neurons. Those are the two neurons that we have in our brain. So one is involved in the moving of the body and the other is involved in all the sensory input that we get. But mirror neurons is something they found quite recently, first in monkeys and then in humans. They are both like sensory and motor. The theory is that these are used for learning so that we can see somebody do it. And at the same time, it’s like we’re doing it ourselves. And in that way we can sort of learn faster.

Alan: Wow.

Pontus: So I think that is also involved in empathy.

Alan: Wow.

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Alan: You know, I appreciate science and I can relate to science and I can relate to facts. But I think we do the nature of Angelina Jordan and the nature of empathy a disservice if we describe it in terms of the neurological process. It’s much, much better to begin to describe the experience of it and the implications of it. If we’re starting to talk about the scientific parallels to empathy, I think that is a little bit going off in the wrong direction.

Pontus: Yeah, I think you and I are coming a little bit from two worlds here. I’m coming from a more scientific background and you’re coming from the more, I don’t know what to call it, ‘the more of the feeling part of it’, what’d you call that?

Alan: You can, maybe you can call it the intuitive. I’m a great believer in science. I mean, I love the fact that I have central heating in the house. I love the fact that I have a car. Scientific progress is wonderful, but if I hold that up against the complexity of my inner emotional world, it’s like comparing an orange to a mortgage; you can’t compare them. You just can’t compare them.

Pontus: Yeah. But aren’t you also like in your, profession, you’re a, what is your professional title really? Alan I’m an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist.

Pontus: Yes. Yes. And aren’t you sort of used to looking at people in like a holistic sense, the body and the mind together?

Alan: Yes, certainly that’s true, but it’s actually very different because, it is making connections and making the, bridging the understanding. If you will allow me to go back to the neural world and talk about the synapse between the spine and how there’s the little space and that electrical impulse jumps across that space to make a connection. So that is a scientific fact. And in a way you can do that, intellectually, or you can make a certain association where you bridge the gap.
Carl Jung, the famous psychotherapist, he came up with a word which is a little bit in this direction, which is ‘synchronicity’. So it’s not a matter that the horse is pulling the cart. It’s two things bounce off of each other and have a certain relationship. It’s not to say if P, then Q; it’s not to say one happens first and then the other second, but they have a correlation. It’s not to say that this is scientific or non-scientific, it is just another way of looking at something. You know, I love the fact that science has given me, a freezer full of food that I can have next week and the week after. But, it doesn’t possess a hundred percent of my consciousness. There’s other things, other than science.
And one of these things is the world of empathy. If you were a scientist and you were doing research on empathy, I don’t think you could absolutely begin anywhere because it’s completely intangible. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean that you and I can not talk about it, but it’s like we cannot put empathy under a microscope and see how it responds to hot or cold. We could not do that.

Pontus: It’s a little bit like, where’s the center of our consciousness? It’s like an enigma or what that is, what is consciousness really?

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Alan: In preparation for today’s talk, Pontus, I’ve been thinking a lot about it because, first of all, I think it is a very, very rare occurrence. For someone to be a true empath, all of the stars have to be aligned just right. And circumstances have to be really, really special for someone to have evolved in that direction. There are a lot of people who are very, I’ll use the word emotional, and a lot of people are very open emotionally and a lot of people will wear their emotions on their sleeve. But to have the ability to share someone else’s feelings is very unique. And also I think it can be very tiring and very draining. A lot of very young children at the age of two and three and four have situations in their life and have certain reactions where they will be emotionally uncomfortable and they build defenses between themselves and their emotional world, but the empath doesn’t build those defenses in the same way.
Now I think Angelina Jordan is very, very unique. If we are considering her to be a true empath, I think the nature of the love that she experienced on any and every level was so wonderful and so opening for her that she kept her emotional world open and that allowed her to become an empath. But the real genius and artistry and delight that Angelina Jordan has is that she can translate that quality of empathy into her understanding of music and then translate that into song and then have that same impact on us. And for me, that is really, really what makes her unique. I don’t know any other singer who does it in quite the same way.

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Pontus: I read another interesting article on singing, actually. It said that when you’re focusing on controlling your rate of breathing, which is a key skill in singing, that actually activates parts of the brain that are linked to emotion.
A clinical neuro psychologist, in the university of Melbourne, she was doing a study of a group of people that were both professional singers and amateur singers and non singers. And she scanned the brain whilst singing and also when talking and I connected with your interview with, what was her name?

Alan: Katrina Marie?

Pontus: Yeah, Katrina Marie. When she said that, when you’re doing Jazz, you have to use both hemispheres in the brain. She said something like it’s both a mathematical, like the timing side of the brain and it’s like the artistic side of the feelings and everything.
When you speak you’re basically using one part of your brain, but when you sing you’re using both parts of your brain, like both the hemispheres. And that also does involve the emotion network of the brain when you’re singing like that. And the fascinating thing was the people that were sort of amateur singers, they didn’t have as much involvement in the brain as those that were professional singers. So the better you are at singing, the better your emotional network in the brain evolves, through singing.

Alan: That’s very, very interesting. And I’m not sure I know what to make of that. I think singing compared to speaking, maybe it tends to be a more emotional experience. But there’s also another thing which yogis who’ve been practicing meditation for years and years, there are a lot of very advanced breathing techniques. So maybe when you’re singing, you take in more oxygen than you do normally, and maybe that extra dose of oxygen actually goes to your brain and revitalizes you. Again, we can think in terms of the nature of oxygen in the body and how it benefits us and affects us. In terms of how we evolve emotionally, there are probably 643 factors of how we evolve emotionally and this has been the debate for the last 150 years, nature versus nurture.
How much of the fact is genetics and how much of this is environment? And I have a very definitive answer to that. It depends.

Pontus: Yeah, that’s definitive, alright.

Alan: It varies from one person to another one person may be 80, 20%. And the other person may be 20%, 80%. So different people will have so many different factors. And that is the beauty of being alive. We are a living constant spectrum, and the light comes through us and we are a rainbow of different colors all the time. And even as someone looks at us, we emanate different colors.
But, going back to Angelina Jordan and what she does. Tou know, it’s really, really a very, very advanced state to be an empath and to have that remarkable, remarkable quality. I’m a great believer in the I word, integration. You know, the fact that the left side and the right side of the brain are next to each other, and they’re both in the same head, it means that they could and should, talk to each other. They should merge. They should not be like the Republican party and the Democratic party. They should be sort of more in unison. I think we pay a big price when we choose or favor one over the other. For example, you feel with one side of the brain, but then you understand the feeling with the other side of the brain. So it can be integrated, the other side of the brain can say, ‘Hey, I don’t like that feeling. How can I change that’? So, you know, the two of them should be in constant negotiation. This is not rocket science. This is just common sense.

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Pontus: When we get past our sort of childlike state and we feel ourselves like we’re an adult now, life gets harder for us in a way. At least emotionally, I think. I mean like a child is very open and feels, and doesn’t have a lot of filters on their feelings. And I think if we could all sort of live a little bit more like that, I think the world would be a better place. And that is what I think listening to Angelina has done with me, anyway, and I think for many as well, that she has made us more, open emotionally. And in the example of Koach Ren, he said he was far, far, far more sentimental now than when he started. And he said stuff like that he didn’t cry at his father’s funeral; it was postponed until he heard six years later Angelina sing, Million Miles. So I think by letting ourselves be influenced by that kind of connection and that kind of influence that Angelina brings to us, if we let it affect us, I think we can live our life in a better way. I really do.

Alan: Because Angelina Jordan, if she had heard Koach Ren describing, she would have been very, very pleased because if she is trying to bring universal love to people, then, it’s halfway there, if she is increasing their ability to feel. You need to have a wide, deep, strong range of feeling to be able to experience love, if you cannot feel, then you cannot really understand the nature of love.

Pontus: Yeah, that’s true. Do you really think she would be pleased? I think she would be quite surprised to hear it. Do you think she’s so aware of how she’s affecting others, that she’s, ‘Okay, this is what I’m doing, and this is my plan’, so to speak?

Alan: No, I don’t think she has a plan. What I think she does is, she has not just the soul of an artist, but I think her artistry is in every cell of her body and it just oozes out of her. You know, she’s walking down the street and she’s making a recording on her iPhone, which is just absolutely spectacular.
And so she is giving us a continual gift. And when she thinks about it all, she may say, ‘Oh, yes I’m trying to transmit universal love’, which is her grand understanding, but It’s just a very, very evolved, sense of artistry of what she can do. She may not be fully aware for example, of the complexity of different people’s type of emotional development and how that may or may not interfere with the nature of universal love. But everything can and will fall place, A) for the listener and B) for her, as she grows up into understanding more about the complexity of human nature and the complexity of her art. At the moment, her art is not complex. Her art comes from, I think I have to call it an inner grace.

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Pontus: I want to make a prediction now. And my prediction is that sometime in the future Angelina will open up some kind of school for learning how to sing. Because I think in the nature of singing there is so much positive things that comes to you, that is part of what she is trying to do with her artistry, to bring love and to make people feel better about themselves.
I’ve read that singing is almost like an aerobic exercise and it releases good chemicals, like endorphins in your body and it makes you feel good. It lowers your stress. And I use singing myself when I’m feeling a bit sad. You can’t feel sad if you’re singing on something. I mean, okay, you can pick a sad song, but if you sing Fly Me to the Moon, there’s no way you can be sad, I feel. I think that is something that she might want to do in the future. I think that would be an awesome, development of her artistry, as sort of a side effect of it.

Alan: It’s interesting because when you were making your prediction and you were saying in the future, I think Angelina Jordan will open up a school and teach… I thought that, the last word in the sentence you used was sing, but I thought there could have been four, eight different words that you could have used, which could have been appropriate.
She can open up school and teach people how to feel. Or, she can open up a school and teach people to transmute, you know, how to go from the feeling into changing it into the artistry of the music. It’s such a rich field, not just singing but it’s the whole human experience, which is so, so rich.

Pontus: Yeah, it really is. I read a quote from an anthropologist at the University College of London. And he said that like this, ‘Song or music is able to capture something that goes beyond what we would normally be able to articulate in our rational, logical minds’. And I think that is a pretty good way of sort of taking what is happening with our connection with Angelina’s artistry and affecting us, in a way.

Alan: Wow, you know, I just thought of something for the first time Pontus. Sometimes I may have insomnia four o’clock in the morning. I may wake up. And when I’m, in French we say between the Wolf and the dog, when I’m halfway between being asleep and awake, my mind can play tricks on me.
So for example, I may think of, ‘Wow, I wonder what the history of human emotion has been like over the last 10,000 years?’ And I may Google that in the morning. And there are so many different levels and so many different aspects of where this can go. You know, what is the history of song? Off the top of my head, maybe 50,000 years ago, or a hundred thousand years ago, primitive man maybe started singing instead of crying or maybe out of sheer pleasure and sheer joy. Maybe he was singing for joy. So it’s very interesting in terms of the origins of the early evolution of how song came to be.

Pontus: Yeah. Yeah. I think I’ve read somewhere that the most sort of basic universal singing is between a mother and the baby, because the baby needs to hear the mother’s voice and it develops into sort of a singing or a humming sound. So singing and music is such a primal thing in our history, in the human history.

Alan: Yeah, and even a love song. I mean that, that’s another, thing which music captures in a way that words cannot… You know, you can sing a love song with such feeling and communicate love almost much more than the spoken.

Pontus: Yeah, Yeah, it goes right to your heart. And a lot of people say that when they listen to Angelina, it goes directly to the soul or to the heart and not to the mind.

Alan: Yeah. I know. And, if I, as a rule, if she is making people more emotional, then she really is a true artist. And it’s the extent of how she’s doing it. And it’s the number of people she’s reaching. And it’s all just so remarkable. So remarkable.


  1. Anonymous

    Empathy must definitely have a major role to play here. When an 8 year old can bring me to tears because she is expressing emotions a person her age should not know or could not have yet experienced, she must be drawing from a much larger pool. She must be accessing emotion on a vibrational level as if she were an antennae (speaking in old man terms here) receiving a broadcast. If human emotion exists on a plane that can be sourced or felt or sensed by empaths, this is a good explanation. AJ must be able to dip into it at will.

    I have often wondered how Bob Dylan was able to capture human emotion so deeply at such a young age. I’m thinking perhaps Dylan had empathic abilities as well. Just a thought.

    Wonderful episode.

  2. Rob Terreden

    I very much appreciate your discussions and your reason for doing them. I’d like to share some thoughts of my own on the topics at hand. I’m retired now from a career in children’s mental health, and I’m also a life-long sincere, non-glamorous, pursuer of spiritual awareness and development. I don’t normally look to the entertainment industry for inspiration; but I have, like the people you now know, been moved to tears at least a hundred times listening to Angelina Jordon sing. It is not in my experience the feeling conveyed by the theme of the songs that touch me. For example, the lyrics to Summertime are not that emotional, but there’s something about Angelina’s presence when she sings. It’s actually something deeper than what we typically call emotions. It’s the presence of soul and beauty. Think of the feelings we have in the presence of natural wonders. It’s not lucky or sad, it’s something deeper. And Angelina’s way of singing is to me like the human form of that. I am one of those who is inspired to be a better person -yes from the teachings of an eight year old. Because she doesn’t teach through thinking, but by showing goodness itself directly. That is her authenticity, her unhurried pace, the value of tenderness over showing off.

  3. Gert Westblad

    I find your discussions quite interesting as a general topic.
    Even though I am huge fan and admirer of Angelina as a singer and person I also find it a little scaring to put her on a pidestall. It might be to much to carry for a young person trying to find her feet in life and music. 😏 Just saying..
    Another singer who stands out as a true empath is Aurora. And I say that based on how she handel emotions through lyrics and performance on stage.

  4. Anette Sundin

    Thank you once again for interesting subjects. I’m a preschool teacher, and one of mine most important tool to learn is by singing and story telling. I can see that affects children the most. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Angelina goes right into my heart.


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