Today we're going to go over what energy healing is and a few of the foundational things that are important to understand about it. We'll cover as much ground as we can bit by bit!
A Nod to The Healthy Skeptic (you're very welcome here!)
It's understandable – even reasonable - to have a healthy skepticism regarding energy healing: it’s something that is not easy to see and not easy to confirm based on our most common methods of proof and validation. If you are truly interested in proof through measurable, scientific methods then you will have to look carefully but there’s plenty out there!
Some people, and you may be one of these, have had direct experiences with energy work or energy in general in such a way that you don't really question its existence yet you’re still not sure what to make of it or how to explain it. Many others are ‘on the fence’, open-minded yet unsure and we might call this healthy skepticism.
In this article we’ll thread through a number of different data points and ways of understanding the phenomena of energy and energy healing to paint a picture that broadens the ability for the healthy skeptic to become a little more comfortable, more open and possibly even convinced.
What is Energy Healing anyway?
Firstly, let's define energy healing, which is also referred to as energy work or energy medicine. It's a holistic method in which higher consciousness and energy flow through the practitioner to clear blockage and support the physical body's natural regeneration.
So, it's holistic - meaning that the mind the body and the spirit are included. When holistic or holism is being spoken of all three of those components are being addressed.
Obviously, we know what our body is and to a great extent we all have a sense of what the mind is, however, there's this thing called Spirit - it's mysterious and may even be undefinable.
Lao-Tzu, the Chinese sage, is famously quoted as saying, “The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao”. He goes on to say the Tao is “eternally nameless”. Lao-Tzu is talking about Spirit, Source, The Whole, The Absolute, etc. The key to getting a sense of Spirit is to know that it is beyond and transcendent of limitation. It is a word and concept that points to the whole - which is where holistic fits in.
Energy healing is absolutely holistic - it requires the integration and the use of higher consciousness which is what we’re pointing towards when we talk about spirit.
Ancient Practice, Modern Times.
Energy work is nothing new. It has been around for thousands of years and is just a modern term. In one way or another many ancient traditions and spiritual practices have integrated and featured forms of energy healing.
What we're calling energy work now is just the contemporary terminology. Luckily, science has provided us with a new language and concepts to understand how energy healing works within a modern framework.
Holistic healing is unlike Western allopathic medicine, which generally treats symptoms. Western medicine tends to work with things that have already become physical issues. This orientation comes with its advantages and disadvantages. As we’re establishing, holistic medicine would consider dysfunction in any aspect (mind, body, spirit) of a person a form of dis-ease.
Holistic medicine - of which energy healing is a part of – is ultimately about getting at the root of a problem, not symptoms. So, you can understand that working holistically can mean identifying problems that exist without having any physical symptoms.
Higher Consciousness & Russian Dolls
We already mentioned how higher consciousness is related to our sense of spirit. In energy healing – referring to our definition - higher consciousness is flowing through the practitioner. If you want to get a sense of higher consciousness, think of a Russian doll as an analogy. The Russian doll is set up so that there are shells or nested structures, one inside of the other. Here, higher consciousness would be the outer shell such that all of the inner structure is included in the outer. This is essentially termed inclusivity. It’s not that higher is better and lower is worse - it really means inclusive.
Some versions of higher consciousness are what's often called your Higher Self (micro, personal) and also what is referred to as Source Consciousness (macro, universal). We can identify and understand the role of Source Consciousness wherein all other forms of consciousness are nested or included within it.
A Field-First Model
As a conceptual framework, to understand energy healing we use a field first model: which follows the logic that thoughts make things. It’s a model of causality and the creative process. Have you ever made something in the physical domain you didn’t think of first in the mental domain? Regarding energy work, it helps to understand what's happening with the phenomenology inherent in the practice.
A field first model makes the most sense to explain the mechanism behind energy healing and for some seasoned practitioners this cause and effect relationship is directly perceivable: the body maps onto an energy field, a thought makes a thing, a mind makes a body - in a sense. This isn't a strange idea - we could easily understand a framework wherein the physical body is derived from an informational, energetic blueprint existing at the field level first.
This causal relationship explains the phenomenon in energy dealing where blockages arising in the energy field can then manifest in the physical body if left unresolved. As mentioned, a seasoned practitioner may see this relationship quite directly. Consider for a moment, have you ever experienced or seen someone else go through a lot of psychological stress and then subsequently get sick? In that case, one explanation is that the stress-ridden mind resulted in a sick body. If there had been no mental stress would there have been physical illness? Is there not a clear body-mind connection here? If so, our causal relationship of mind to body is a very reasonable and demonstrable one. So clearly if something has an energetic pattern or imprint in the energy field and is not addressed, then the physical body may start having symptomology. This is a working model, a theoretical framework, so keep on your healthy skeptic hat!
A Universal Practice, not just for some.
Energy healing is a practice for everyone. There is no hierarchy regarding access to entry. Anybody can pick up an energy healing practice on day one and make use of it. It's great that it has this kind of intrinsic equality built into it! Of course, there are different practices and there is a large skill set in terms of development, but just like anybody can start playing music on day one, anybody can start practicing energy work on day one.
With Field Dynamics we welcome total beginners as well as seasoned professionals! You can develop an extensive and expert level energy healing practice because there is a huge range of technique and creativity available.
What is Energy Anyway?
The energy being referred to in energy healing is electromagnetic, but it's gone by different names in different cultures, such as prana, qi (chi), subtle energy, life force, vital energy, etc. You can learn to see and feel electromagnetic fields - this goes under the general heading of extrasensory perception (ESP).
Some people have an intrinsic skill - which is great for them - but most people have to work to develop their sensory interface: how you take sense phenomena through the physical senses and then see how they sublimate into the subtle senses. All extrasensory perception is to some degree a learnable skill. They've been talked about for a very long time: the yogis used to call these the siddhis, the Buddhists called them the iddhis and in modern times they’re most commonly called the clair’s (clairvoyance, clairsentience, clairaudience, etc.) .
As mentioned, energy work is foundationally related to what's going on with our electromagnetic self, our bioelectric self. This electromagnetic field surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body - the popular terms for this are the aura, the energy field, the light body and the biofield.
A more contemporary term we like to use in Field Dynamics is ‘multidimensional anatomy’ because the energy field is where we can understand ourselves from a multidimensional perspective. That might sound strange or futuristic yet understanding the energy field at a more subtle level is that it has a multidimensional nature and is organized as such.
This is extremely important to understand how energy healing works because multidimensionality refers to how information is embedded or encoded in electromagnetic phenomena or light. If we wanted to go way down the rabbit hole this connects into fractals, recursion, self-similarity and more, but this is a 101, not a 104! In essence, our electromagnetic, multidimensional nature explains how we are connected to and profoundly part of the whole universe.
The Healer Doesn’t Heal (it's true!)
A key principle to remember is that the healer doesn't heal! This might sound strange, but central to understanding energy healing is that the person doing the energy work isn’t the thing or aspect that is doing the healing.
The healer is actually a facilitator for the flow of higher consciousness. The quality of a person's emptiness, spaciousness, or transparency is the developmental line towards a person's healing ability. In this light, a proficient energy healer is actually a person who is really good at getting out of the way!
Be Here Now!
The most valuable skill for a healer is establishing a clear connection to higher consciousness, source, or spirit. In practical terms this just means becoming more present and grounded in the here and now. The present moment is a paradox: the very idea of nowness is actually an analogue of what we mean when we say spirit.
Think about it – the present moment is eternal – it’s always now! We can understand “being present” as the essence of spirituality. An energy healer's greatest skill is developing their presence. Maybe you notice the direct link between traditional spiritual seeking and that of healing? We can see how both the healer and the seeker will find the culmination of their quest in the paradoxical, eternal present.
Energy healing is a depth modality, meaning it works with the subconscious. By making use of forms of higher consciousness, energy healing enables you to engage the subconscious quite effectively and directly. This is a key underlying reason for the potency of energy work – deep healing requires working through our subconscious mind.
The goal is to make conscious that which is subconscious – effectively bringing it to the light of your awareness. Because of this feature whereby the subconscious aspects are engaged with quite directly, energy healing tends to bring about an accelerated transformational process either for healing work or self-realization.
Oh Hello Subtle Anatomy!
Obviously, we have a lymphatic system and a nervous system and an endocrine system, but we also have a chakra system and a meridian system and a nadi system. These familiar terms refer to our subtle anatomical systems and have extensive documentation in traditions such as Taosim and Yoga. Increasingly, science is picking up on this through various studies.
The structural integrity and the flow of energy through these subtle systems are very important for the overall functioning of our mind and body. Just imagine if your lymphatic system were malfunctioning, there would be significant consequences to your health. The same is true for the aspects of the subtle anatomy: their strength and energy flow is integral to your holistic health.
Energy healing is well known for removing energy blocks. You often hear someone say “I want to clear my blocks” or “I want to remove my blockage”. These energy blocks are often known as distortions or fragmentations. Different traditions have different titles for them, but the block disrupts the flow and function of the energy system.
Imagine your energy system as flowing like a river and your health and vitality is determined by the strength and balance of the current. A block is akin to a rock in the river - causing disruption and imbalanced flow.
Interestingly, blocks are made of unresolved issues… surprise, surprise! When we say we're working with a repressed emotion, a deeply limiting belief, a buried memory, trauma…. these things are actually sitting in the energy field and subtle anatomy. As mentioned before, these unresolved issues in the energy field can eventually manifest as physical symptoms, illness and even disease.
So, we have the energy anatomy - the structure - and then there's the blocks – the issues. In energy healing you can choose to work anatomically but you could also work from an issue. Some common themes of energy blocks are identified as: the inner child, ancestral healing, traumatic life experiences and transpersonal healing to name a few.