What is Energy Healing?

by Colleen Deatsman
Author of Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age

What is energy healing

The concepts and techniques of utilizing energy for physical healing are vast and global. I can't begin to address all the profound methods that exist so the focus here is to briefly introduce energy concepts to those not already familiar, and to teach some simple methods of energy movement to heal ourselves. Quantum physics tells us that the entire universe and everything in it is made up of energy. Therefore, it makes sense that the human body is made up of energy as well. According to Barbara Brennan author of Hands of Light, "The Human Energy Field is the manifestation of universal energy that is intimately involved with human life. It can be described as a luminous body that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body, emits its own characteristic radiation and is usually called the aura". Throughout history shamans, mystics, psychics, and intuitives have able to see this energy and describe it as a radiant haze around the body.

This energy body, or spirit body, is associated with heat and appears like flames or heat waves around a person. Individuals with strong connections to spiritual life force power have pronounced personal energy that radiates brightly from their energy field. This is why depictions of avatars, saints, and spirit beings such as angels and guides typically have halos encompassing their heads. We all have halos, though the intensity varies based on our ability to build and maintain this personal energy. The physical manifestation of the energy or spirit body can be visibly witnessed with Kirlian photography and other sensitive scientific instruments, but rather than talk about energy from a scientific perspective let me point out ways in which you may already be in touch with energy.

Most of us know the "good vibes" "bad vibes" designation of what we feel when we are around someone or in certain places. We say things like, "this place feels warm and comfortable", or "you could cut the tension with a knife".This is energy that we are sensing. The energy of people, places, animals, Spirits, all things vibrate and this vibration is felt and read by our energy systems. Likewise we send out energy vibrations that others feel and read. This energy exchange is clear when you consider your responses to meeting someone that you instantly don't like or are instantly attracted to. The effect is like a magnetic push or pull, repelling or attracting.This response does not happen in your head from thought, it occurs in the senses of your body's "aura". To further illustrate try this little exercise in energy play. With palms open and hands relaxed rub your hands together. After doing this for a few moments slowly pull them apart really sensing what you feel. Do you feel the heat and pull of the energy? It may feel rather sticky making it subtly harder to pull apart. You may also feel the pulsing and vibrating of the energy.

Another exercise is to hold one hand palm up and draw circles about a half an inch above the palm using the index finger of the other hand, not touching the palm. Can you feel heat or a tingling outline of the circle? Awareness of energy is a difficult thing to comprehend. We must develop our responsiveness skills and use our senses to feel the subtle energies. This takes practice. By doing the following energy filling exercises I began to notice an increase in awareness and ability to tangibly feel energy. Once energy sensitivities evolve it becomes possible to use this kind of energy to send out powerful prayers and to consciously bring this life force into the body for self-healing and fortification.

We know from science that energy is constantly moving and vibrating. Therefore, we know that in a healthy body, energy would be flowing and moving. Illness, disease and pain are the manifestations in the body of energy that is no congested or no longer moving. This stagnant or stuck energy blocks the natural flow of life force through the body. The healing technique of Reiki, from the Japanese words Rei -meaning universal, and Ki - meaning vital life force energy, is one of the many techniques that identifies and treats this energy system in the bodies of living beings. Acupuncture is another example of a healing science based on energy movement.

One of the questions I asked when learning about energy is, if we are all made of energy, why then do so many of us have so little of it? The answer is simple. We really aren't aware of energy, we waste our energy, we give away our energy, we block our energy, and we don't know how to access energy. The following are some simple concepts and exercises that have been helpful for me in counteracting these energy busters.

Wasting our energy is a major source of fatigue and ill health in our society. We buzz around like busy little bees living our lives without awareness of where our energy goes. We only know that we are exhausted most of the time and if we are ill on top of that, the effects of energy loss are profound. I became aware of this understanding through my own healing of cfids/fibromyalgia because, like many, I was never taught anything about energy use (other than turn the lights off when you leave the room!). A clairvoyant person or a good woodsman tracker sees the energy traces we leave behind. Everywhere we go we leave a little residual energy trace. To illustrate, during some of my shamanic training we did an exercise where the students were to go into an altered state of consciousness and go out on the property of the retreat center. We were instructed to walk around and find the teacher who would physically stay in the meeting room but project herself energetically out onto the grounds. Not only did the students find the energy of the teacher in specific places in her present adult form, we also found her playing in specific places as a child. At first, this was confusing until my teacher recalled that this retreat center had been a summer camp that she had attended as a child. We were seeing the residual traces of her presence from many years ago. Amazing,but absolutely true.

So, we can see that in just ordinary situations we leave a little residual energy. In stressful situations we leave more energy. When we feel strong emotions we emit a lot of energy. When we struggle and strain to survive, we lose energy. This is natural and not a detriment. The detriment comes when we lose too much energy and are not able to replenish it. When we deal with a constant barrage of stressors and responsibilities (even positive ones) we become drained. When this draining goes on for long periods of time without respite,we become physically exhausted. This exhaustion leaves us vulnerable to more loss of energy, as we are not as strong as usual. As the losses compound, our life force gradually diminishes and our natural defenses weaken. We are no longer able to prevent the energy from leaking or to protect ourselves from foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and energy bombardment from others. It's like rushing in to fight another battle already wounded from the last one. We are not as strong and fast as before which leaves us open to more wounding. In my non-medical opinion, this is how cfids/fibromyalgia can take hold. Constant un-replenished energy loss eventually weakens the immune system allowing illness and disease to set up camp. The deterioration progresses and our already weakened and attacked system continues to dissipate energy as we struggle to "keep on keeping on". This is why I say that I believe cfids/fibromyalgia to be a power loss illness. If we don't stop wasting energy and refill with essential life force we don't heal our immune systems.

It is of primary importance that we be conscious and aware of where we are spending our energy. Look over your day, your activities and your internal world of thoughts and emotions, noticing where you are spending your energy. Is that really where you want to spend it? Become mindful about the things you do, the emotions you feel, and the thoughts you think. My shamanic friend Stephanie shared with me a code that I now live by. "What you give energy to, you give life to." This principle can be applied to anything. Explore what this means to you. To me it means if I give energy to worry and negativity, I give life to those things, allowing them to thrive in my world. My thoughts and therefore my energy focus, invites these nasty characters in to take me for a ride.

If I take the same situation and instead of worrying and focusing on the scary "what ifs" I focus on prayer and positive outcome,I have changed my response to one less stressful for my body and I invite the good things in life to come to me. If I give energy to being sick, I give life to being sick. With this awareness, I can choose to change what I give energy to. I choose to put my energy into getting healthy! This means I prioritize my responsibilities and honor my body with the daily healthy disciplines described in this chapter. I don't waste energy on needless worries and negative thoughts. Openly and honestly I process my emotions regularly, gleaning understanding of them and then let them move through me. I choose not to carry around the residual burden of past events or the worry about future events. I choose to trust and flow. In these ways, I save my energy for enjoying and fully living life. I have printed up this code "What you give energy to, you give life to" superimposed on a tranquil mountain scene and hung it around the house to remind my self daily of my choice to manifest the life I want.

I strongly suggest sitting with this concept of energy loss. Use the practices of going into alpha or meditation to gain insight on how and where you may be leaking energy. Are there places in your life or ways to limit the amount of energy spent? Do you choose to alter your energy expenditures to include healthy practices for yourself that will replenish, rather than deplete, your energy reserves?

Somewhere in my healing process I became aware of how much energy I willing gave to others, though unknowingly. I am a healing and a helping person by nature. When clients, family, or friends came to me for help, I willingly poured my heart and soul out to them, spilling my personal energy out all over them. I was not aware I was giving them my valuable life force energy. Others are not able to use our energy for very long, they must connect with their own. So depleting oneself for the sake of others helps no one.

It's wonderful to help others, but do so in ways that can really help them. Teach them how to manifest their own energy, perhaps by using the energy replenishing exercises we will explore soon, or by building on strengths they already possess. Be aware of what your energy is doing when you are trying to help someone. Consciously keep your personal energy to yourself with focus and intent. Often those who come to us for help (except in the healing professions) really don't want us to fix them, they just want us to listen. They don't want or need our energy they just want our attention and understanding.

Conversely, there are those individuals who do want our energy. In my experience they come in two categories. There are those who are wounded and go around sucking up the energy of others in an attempt to fill themselves with good vibrations. Then there are those who bear strong hatred or jealousies and whose strong emotions knock life force energy out of their perceived enemy. Both of these types can drain energy unknowingly or knowingly from their objects of focus. The power of the mind and emotion is incredible and reaches far beyond the awareness of the general public. I learned about this subject the hard way with both types of people. We all have people in our lives that leave us feeling drained and powerless after spending time with them. We are not aware that they are knowingly or unknowingly sucking us dry of our vital life force. For lack of a better term they are energy vampires. Whether attempting to fill themselves with our healing energy or trying to destroy us with their hatred, the effect is the same, energy drain resulting in power loss.

The first step in protecting our precious energy is awareness. We must protect our treasured commodity of energy through focus and intent. In other words, we mentally will our energy to stay with us. Some people set up energy protection shields such as circling themselves in white light, a cobalt blue egg, a pink circle of love, or a circle of mirrors. I've heard of many variations and all are effective given one constant; that the person setting them up does so with disciplined focus. Randomly thinking you are protected is different than consciously feeling the tangible energy surrounding you. Go beyond just thinking it, manifest it.

Another form of energy loss is blocked energy. When energy becomes stagnant or stuck, this creates a blockage in the flow of life force energy available for use. This can happen in a multitude of ways. The most common in my experience is storing emotions in our bodies. When we don't address and process our emotions, we carry them around energetically. Eventually we may repress them or "stuff them" whereby they manifest in the physical body as aches, pains, illness and disease.

An example of this is the trigger of my asthma in connection to my symbiotic relationship with my daughter, Lauren. Lauren's birth was problematic and her lungs needed to be suctioned immediately. Energetically I was attempting to breathe for her and my lungs actually became congested. Later when Lauren's father and I divorced, I unknowingly stored the guilt of how that affected her in my lungs as well. I know now when I am having asthma that something is going with on in connection with Lauren that I am manifesting in my body. Another example is during times of stress my shoulders and neck ache. This is a place many of us hold tension causing us to feel "we are carrying the weight of the world upon our shoulders". It is no wonder that many of the diagnostic trigger points of fibromyalgia are found here. We store a lot of emotion in our bodies as we struggle through life. In Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life", chapter fifteen consists of a list of illnesses, aches and pains along with their mental/emotional cause, and affirmations to help release these. If you are struggling with insight into your physical manifestations of emotions, I highly suggest this book. You can also discover the emotions yourself by going into alpha and sitting with your pain. Allow it to speak to you. In the quiet stillness of your being the physical messages will seep up through your soul into your consciousness.

The Reiki Boost is an exercise I adapted from A Torch in Daylight by Karyn Mitchell. Though this is devised for those with Reiki training, I believe we all have the ability to access universal energy to some extent even without training and attuning. Begin by entering into alpha state and relax. Ask Spirit to come in and help you access energy. Place your open, palms down, hands just above the top of your head. Hold this position while focusing the power of your mind on the color orchid, open to feeling and receiving energy. After a few moments move your hands down to cover your third eye (forehead) and the back of your head. Hold, focus on the color indigo, feel, and receive the energy. Move to your throat center placing your hands just above the body in the front and back of your neck. Hold, focus on the color blue, feel, and receive. Move to your heart center placing both of your hands on your chest. Hold, focus on the color green, feel, and receive. Move to the solar plexus placing your hands on the center of your being. Hold, focus on the color yellow, feel, and receive. Move to the spleen center placing your hands on your abdomen. Hold, focus on the color orange, feel, and receive. Move to the root center placing your hands just above the body of your genital area and derriere. Hold, focus on the color red, feel, and receive. In a movement called Up Energy take your hands to the floor and sweep up the energy of the Earth with your hands open, fingers together, palms facing your body.

Bring your hands all the way up your body from the floor to above your head while visualizing rainbow colors. Feel and receive the energy flow. Those with knowledge of the seven major chakras of the body will recognize that these positions and colors correspond.

Hara line energy flow is an exercise written in detail in Diane Stein's book, Essential Reiki. This is a brief workable summation. This exercise is a discipline of moving life force energy through the energy channels of the body also known in India as Opening the Kundalini. Begin by placing your attention on your solar plexus or navel. This is the Hara. When warmth builds, (this is energy), move the warmth with mindful intent to the root center behind the genitals then up into the spinal cord resting at the kidney point. Raise the energy slowly up the spine to the top of the head. Follow the energy flow without force. Hold. Direct the energy flow down to the third eye (forehead) then flow it back down to the navel. Repeat this circle several times. When proficient, add in the arms and legs. From the navel direct the energy flow to the root center, dividing it into two channels and sending the energy down the backs of the legs to the soles of the feet resting there, drawing in Earth energy. Once warm, move the energy to the big toes then up the front of the legs to the shins, knees, and thighs back to the root center.

Return the flow up the spine and then divide it into two channels at the point between the shoulder blades. Send energy down the insides of the arms to the middle of the palms. Hold. Direct the energy down to the middle finger and back out along the backside of the arms returning to the main circuit where the energy flows to the head, forehead and back to the navel. Repeat several times. Be mindful, notice what you feel. This one really works for me! If you feel nauseous while doing this take in a deep breath and relax. Move the energy slowly. Practice will increase your body's ability to handle this powerful energy.

Sinking the Chi (energy) is a movement exercise from the practice of T'ai Chi. Stand with feet hip distance apart, arms down at your sides. Relax, soften the face, and soften the eyes. Raise your arms, palms up from your sides in a slow mindful sweeping motion all the way over your head, gathering in the energy of your surroundings and the universe. Turn your palms down and bring your arms down the front of your body sinking the energy into your solar plexus and root center. Hold your hands here for a few moments. Repeat in multiples of three. A mindful exercise I call Receiving can be a meditation practice or a quick energy uptake during busy times. Simply lie down or sit comfortably palms facing up, ready to receive. Allow your mind to relax and go into alpha. Focus your attention on the soles of your feet and consciously draw energy from the Earth in through them. Focus and feel the warmth and tingling for as much time as you have. Focus your attention on your solar plexus and consciously draw in energy from the Sun. Focus and feel as long as you have time for. Focus your attention on the top (crown) of your head and consciously draw in energy from the Universe. Focus and feel as long as you have time. Tune into all three of these places and feel the energy coming together inside of you. Feel it swirl as it mixes together and mindfully stir it. Spread this delicious mix of Earth, Sun, and Universe throughout your body and hold it.

These exercises not only help us replenish with energy that heals, they also build protection from energy loss. When we are power-filled we are strong and powerful. From this place of power, when faced with life challenges, we will be better suited to handle them. We will be connected in life force, creating internal strength to handle the outside struggles.

You may have heard the buzzword "grounding". It is a term used to describe a simple healing technique of reconnecting with our mother the Earth. A common malady of our industrialized world and shift to modern materialism is our removal from direct living on and with the Earth. For most of us, the world in which we live takes us away from our source of balance and connection, nature. In nature, we find solace, our God/Goddess/Great Spirit connection. In a busy duty-filled life, even those of us who live in small towns and in the country have little time to enjoy the natural world with which we live. In so doing, we become less connected with the Earth force, leaving us feeling energetically unbalanced, "un-Earthed" or "ungrounded". Our energies scatter as we rush about our lives. Our mother the Earth is under us at all times, sustaining our lives. Most of us have little awareness of Mother Earth and how our lack of connection with her causes us to feel lost, vulnerable and "dis-eased". The good news is this connection is always there for us and is easy for us to re-tap into. Grounding is the conscious act of re-connecting with Mother Earth energy either by sending our energies into the Earth or by drawing her energies up into us. The following techniques have been instrumental in my ability to regain balance and energy during my struggle to return to health. Reconnection equals harmony equals balance equals health!

This Grounding Tree exercise is one that I do daily as part of my morning ritual, as well as anytime during the day if I feel scattered, unbalanced, or disconnected. It is especially powerful to practice this outdoors if you can, but equally effective indoors. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, arms down at your sides. Relax into alpha state. Feel the soles of your feet opening to the Earth. Imagine roots growing out of the bottom of your feet going deep into the Earth. Feel the Earth, the many layers, temperature changes, and the texture of the soil as it changes down through the layers. Feel your roots going deep down through the water table and beyond to the core depths of the Earth. Breathe in deeply of the energy from our mother the Earth. Bring this energy up through your feet and legs into your torso, imagining it to be the trunk of your tree. Feel the Earth energy mingle with your tree essence. Now raise your hands, palms up to our Father the Sky. Imagine your arms to be branches gathering in the energy of the universe. Feel that energy come down into your trunk and mingle and mix with your tree essence and Earth energy. Breathe deeply, feel deeply. Honor the connection. Thank the universe for all of creation. Thank the Earth for sustaining life. Thank the trees for bridging them both. Feel that you are that bridge connected to all of life.

Colleen Deatsman is the author of Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age (Red Wheel Weiser 2009), Energy for Life: Connect with the Source (Llewellyn 2006) and Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy and Self-Healing (Llewellyn 2005), is a Masters Degreed Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker, Shamanic Practitioner, Reiki Master, Certified Hypnotherapist, and Certified Alternative Healing Consultant at Circle of Life Counseling and Healing Services in Mason, Michigan. colleendeatsman.com

Image above by Rachie Lea.

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