My Buddhist influences have helped me to let go of things needing to be a certain way, thinking my life had to "check all the boxes" that we're told to pursue: college, internship, career, marriage, house, kids. I've become more comfortable not knowing what my life will be, finding happiness in the way things are. For a people-pleasing, achievement-oriented, perfectionist like me, it's been one hell of a relief.
With that attitude of non-attachment, though, was also uncertainty in what I actually wanted for my life. Through healing my chronic neck/shoulder pain this year, I was introduced to intuitive energy work, which has sparked embers of clarity. Now, my focus is on honing my intuition to find my authentic life path - not what I've been instructed to want or what others tell me I want - and to find what I feel is the true meaning and purpose of my life. That lofty enough, for ya? 😉
Mindfulness - and a focus on mental and spiritual health in general - was undoubtedly one of the biggest wellness movements of 2015/2016. And now, not far into 2017, there's already a new magical craze to continue the trend: "Energy work."
I read that, according to Pinterest, energy work is the number-one wellness trend of 2017, with a 51 percent jump in pins so far this year. Of course, like yoga and meditation, this "trend" isn't actually new - the resurgence of all things mystical is another example of an ancient practice now finding popularity in the modern world.
So, what is it? Roughly speaking, it's a method of healing blocked energy in the body. Physical, emotional and mental stress, accidents, injuries, suppressed feelings and trauma all prevent our body’s energy from flowing freely. Stagnant energy often results in hard-to-explain physical symptoms and pain such as digestion issues, food sensitivities, back/neck/shoulder pain, migraines, skin rashes, fatigue, hormonal imbalance.
If the energy arrangement in your body has created health problems, you can help by learning to feel your feelings - especially those you have chosen to ignore. Energy becomes stagnant when emotions do because energy moves in the body based on how we feel. Positive energy moving into the body prevents disease and helps the body heal if it becomes ill. When healthy energy moves in, it wakes stagnant energy from its lifeless slumber. Vital energy then pours in, helping tissues and organs function better and making all forms of medicine more effective, too.
There are many ways to heal and clear blocked energy, including yoga, reiki, qi gong, acupuncture, rolfing, therapeutic massage, dance, breathwork, meditation. The key is to focus on the seven energy centers in your body, known as chakras.
The term chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel or disc. Chakras are multidimensional orbs, appearing round or cone-shaped, that begin at the base of your spine and go up to the top of your head. Each chakra has its own color and unique role in maintaining vitality in your body, mind, and spirit. Descriptions of the chakras first appeared in the Vedas, ancient spiritual texts dating back to 2,000 BC.
If you prefer to stay more literal, you can think of each of these seven centers as necessary stages of growth and self-reflection that you go through on your path of inner illumination.
In my next post, I'll go into more detail on each system, but for now I'll share a recent example of how I'm using energy healing in my life.
I received a phone call from a friend, Eden, who was very upset. She had just gotten off the phone with another friend of ours, Allegra, who told her that I had said some hurtful things about Eden's husband and her kids. Thank god, Eden called me directly to check it out because of course I didn't say these things, so I was able to reassure her that was the case.
I was on vacation at the time, so I tried to "put it out of my head" and mostly did (I'm pretty good at not feeling my feelings). After a wonderful day and delicious, healthy meal, I started to feel sick in my stomach. My friend and I had eaten the same food except for one obvious culprit: "The meatballs. It's gotta be the meatballs," we assumed. Sadly, I was sick all through the night. The next day brought some relief until I ate a mild, bland meal and got sick once again. "The fish?"
When I returned home the following day and started to think about calling Allegra to hear her version of the story and express my feelings, I realized this had been the true culprit of the stomach ache, not the meatballs or fish. Even as aware of the mind-body connection as I am, it's still habit to see the body as one entity and my thoughts/feelings/relationships as another. When I spoke to Allegra I realized these two women were having issues figuring out their relationship with one other, that I got unfairly dragged into this, but that this had nothing to do with me.
Codependency (wanting everyone to like me), taking on other people's problems and emotions, and stomach aches have all been recurrent themes for me. I now know that these issues are related to the third chakra, which governs the gut/digestive tract and has to do with emotional boundaries.
I closed my eyes and sent healing love, warm, light energy to my stomach and began to feel it softening, warming, soothing like a ball of sun inside my belly. I told myself that this has nothing to do with me. A lot of people tell me a lot of things and I always do my best to speak with love and care, to never gossip or be hurtful, to respect privacy, and to stay positive and loving.
I was able to let it go and let them figure it out between themselves and, of course, my stomach felt immediately better.
Check out my Chakra Resource Center for an introduction to your energy centers, the areas of your body they govern, supportive foods to eat, and beneficial practices.