What is this curious thing that happens when we link our senses with the energy that moves through us and around our bodies? We can go for the longest time, even meditating regularly, and never even suspect it is there, this energetic sheath that envelopes us. Then one day we bump into it . . . or it is touched just right, activated somehow, and we awaken to something about ourselves which is not solid. And yet it is there.
In this lesson, you will take steps toward an unforced, natural connection with your own energy system, one that allows you to be drawn consciously into its activity. This is the art of using energy-active positions on your body as pathways into meditation and expanded consciousness.
Learning energy skills like the ones in this course will not only enable you to take your meditation practice to new levels, you will also learn strategies for working with the inevitable obstacles that all meditators encounter. Like any skill-set worth learning, this takes practice, but as you get the hang of it, it will reward you with a deeper connection with yourself and your inner resources.
In this course, you’ll notice that I use rather generic language to refer to things like chakras, energy points, and energy streams, which are among the stable features of the human energy field. For example, you will see terms like “energy centers” and “energy-active positions” to identify key energetic locations on your body. By doing so, I hope to steer clear of preconceived notions and find a language that works for an experience-based approach to learning energywork, one that honors the venerable traditions that have fed world spirituality and at the same time allows me to point to ways of using these energy systems of ours to generate authentic experiences that are not colored by lots of ideas about what’s supposed to happen.
Please understand that the practices in this course are not intended to be a substitute for care by a qualified health professional. If you have serious health concerns or questions about how these practices will affect your physical, emotional or mental condition, please consult your doctor before doing them.
Energywork and Spiritual Process: Important Dots to Connect
I would like to put these practices into a bigger perspective. While energy-oriented practices like the ones you will learn in this course have many uses in holistic healing, I feel that it would be missing the boat to think of them mainly as ways to manage physical or emotional symptoms. Of course we all want to feel better, but it is important to recognize that these practices have a strong psycho-spiritual component. This means they have the potential to take you inward, into your body and your psyche, as well as expand you into a transpersonal state. They can be both comforting and confronting, bringing you into a deep experience of stillness, as well as stirring things up in your inner process. It’s nothing to be afraid of but it is important to know from the outset that when you consciously enter your energy field you are also working with your unconscious, which has tremendous power and needs to be approached with respect.
Energy practices like these are next of kin to the classic disciplines of the inner life: prayer, meditation and contemplation. And like these classic disciplines, they are tools for inner work and they join actively with the human longing for peace, unity and self-realization, and with the concerns of the pilgrim, or spiritual traveler, within each of us.
Put simply, inner work is anything you do in order to take care of your inner world. In this way, you are finding out, first hand, how you tick. This is about more than merely mastering a set of techniques: you are attending to qualities in yourself. By this I mean you are cultivating the potentials and spiritual gifts that you carry in you, for example those of an artist, healer, teacher or leader, not to mention the un-nameable blend of qualities that are uniquely yours. If attended to, your gifts will grow, following their own natural cycles, and at some point they will turn outward and touch others.
Getting Started: An Experiment in Using Attention
Your most important tool in practices that link you consciously with your energy field is your ability to use your attention. When you take it down to its essential ingredients, attention is made of feeling, awareness and energy. When you use your attention in a purposeful way, you are using this most basic bundle of elements, and you might be surprised at what your attention is capable of with just a little schooling.
Let’s start with a short experiment to see how you are using this bundle of feeling, awareness and energy. This begins the process of working with the three main elements of energetic connection:
Making a feeling, or kinesthetic connection;
Relaxing your attention;
Going into a neutral state of mind in which you are not trying to make anything happen and not trying to keep anything from happening
Let me walk you through it:
Exercise: A Journey Through Your Body
The small skill-set you used in our little experiment is a simple key to energy connection. It’s going to require some practice, so let’s see what happens if we apply this approach to your whole body. There is plenty of time later in our course to go into how this works, but for now let’s get some experience under our belts.
Homework: Take an Energywork Inventory
Consider this: you are probably already doing some form of energywork, maybe without even thinking of it in those terms. Take a little inventory of things you do that have a subtle energetic component:
Include all hands-on and hands-off energywork modalities like Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, Polarity Therapy;
List subtle energy therapies like acupuncture and homeopathy;
Include all spiritually oriented practices like meditation, prayer, chakra exercises, toning, breathing exercises, chanting and singing spiritual hymns, overtone singing;
Don’t leave out practices that slow down and intensify your perception of the energy movement in your body and around it, such as yoga, t’ai chi, and qi gong;
Add to these all forms of spiritual ritual you might be involved with, such as sweat lodges, vision quests, ritual movement, sacred dance and walk;
And don’t forget massage, which often helps you shift into deep relaxation, essentially an altered state of consciousness.
What all of these practices have in common—and the reason they have the potential to stimulate spiritual process—is that each of them steps up the interaction between your energy field and your body. They enliven the interplay between your conscious and subconscious processes.
Our Next Lesson: Balance and Diving Deeper
In next week’s lesson, we will explore what happens when we come into more energetic balance. There will be a review of the major elements of connection-making, as well as new exercises that deal with the issue of energetic polarities and balance.
“The purpose of learning to work with the unconscious is not just to resolve our conflicts or deal with our neuroses. We find there a deep source of renewal, growth, strength, and wisdom. We connect with the source of our evolving character; we cooperate with the process whereby we bring the total self together; we learn to tap that rich lode of energy and intelligence that waits within.”
Click here for "introduction to Exercises":
Click here for "Journey Through Your Body":
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