• Jim Gilkeson

Unwanted Energy Transfer and the Myth of “Negative Energy” (PI-1)

There is a question that is guaranteed to come up in classes on hands-on healing work. It's the one about how to not be adversely affected by the energy of the person you are working on. I've always questioned the underlying assumption behind this question: namely, that other people's energy is something to be afraid of. Since fear of the person you are about to work on is obviously not the best starting point, I'd like to present another point of view on this subject.

In workshops I ask students to share with one another what they experience during treatments, both as the giver and the receiver of the treatment. In a recent workshop, a woman described how she got a headache the second she laid her hands on her partner. As the treatment progressed, the headache gave way to sadness and she did at least half the session with tears rolling down her face. Her partner reported that she, too, had a splitting headache when she lay down on the table, but in the relaxation that came from the polarity treatment she was receiving, the sharp edges of her pain softened and she began to feel the sorrow that lay behind it. She had come to the workshop from the hospital where her father was slowly dying and she felt powerless to help him. Interestingly, the woman who gave the treatment said that as soon as the treatment was over, the headache and sadness were gone, as if they had never been.

Another time, I remember a workshop participant leaping up off the table and screaming at her partner that she didn’t want his “angry vibes.” When I asked her partner about it, a young man of twenty-two, it turned out that he was in personal turmoil, fuming over a situation at work that he felt was beyond his control, and he was very busy inside himself with this conflict with his boss. As it turned out, the woman who was to receive the treatment also admitted to having a good deal of anger in her life, in particular at her boyfriend, who couldn’t keep a job.

These two situations have a lot in common. In the first case, the woman giving the treatment clearly felt in her body things that were going on in her partner’s body. She was able to track very accurately the shift in her partner from headache to sadness to tears. On reflection, she was able to see that the headache and sadness she was feeling were not “her” headache and sadness. In the second example, the anger in one partner found a resonance with the anger in the other, and it seemed to short-circuit the treatment.


Two of the questions most frequently asked on the subject of energy healing are: “How do I, when I am giving a treatment, keep from picking up my partner’s “negative energy?” and “Isn’t it true that if I am depressed, angry or otherwise particularly negative when I give a treatment, I can actually do harm?” I see these questions as two versions of the same basic question because they both have to do with possible harmful transference of energy between you and the person you treat. These are important questions, and they ought to be asked.

We will never get away from the transfer of energy between us. Our energy fields interact constantly, though we are unaware of it most of the time. When we become involved with giving and getting treatments, we suddenly become aware of at least part of this interaction.

First, there's the idea that, in the process of sensing and treating another person, we are doing things which cause us to merge, or blend, with our partner. Then, on the other hand, there is the notion that we need to have good boundaries to protect both of us from any harmful exchange which might occur. How can we reconcile this?

For starters, I'd like to address one of the assumptions that these questions make about how energy works. I believe the term “negative energy” arises from a mistaken notion about the nature of energy. In reality, energy is neutral, neither “good” nor “bad.”

Typically, what we mean when we talk about “negative energy” is energy that is stuck in an emotional pattern like fear, anger or depression. It is helpful to think of a pool of standing water that stagnates, but freshens when it is allowed to flow again and join the rushing stream. Then perhaps it evaporates and joins clouds and eventually falls to earth once again, maybe this time raining down on crops that nurture us. The water goes through many cycles of change, but remains water. It is much the same with energy.

In energy healing, we work with practices that bring about the movement and transformation of energy. This involves release of what has been held and, as healing progresses, the eventual clearance of the pattern itself. Like the water that freshens and becomes vital again once it rejoins its joyous natural cycle, the energy that flows through our bodies and psyches also goes through many transformations when it becomes unstuck and is allowed to move in its natural way.

Two Strategies That Start with You

Having said all this, we still have in front of us the question: “What can we do about preventing unwanted transfers between ourselves and those we give treatments to?” I believe we need a long-term strategy and an immediate one.

The long-term strategy is the ongoing work you do on your own healing. If you have unconscious, but highly charged, unhealed issues in your life, they can really get in the way when you are trying to work on another person. The reason they get in the way is that they create an attraction point—they literally act like a magnet—for similar energies in your partner.

The good news is that as you resolve these issues within yourself, they lose their magnetic pull and they stop being an attraction point. And you will find that you can work with people with all kinds of emotional problems without being affected. This is not to say that you need to be perfect, or “completely healed” in order to give energy healing treatments. If that were the case, nobody would be giving treatments. Still, it is important to understand this dynamic.

The more immediate strategy has to do with how you orient yourself when you give a treatment. You need to be able to sort out what is coming from your partner and what is coming from you, and align yourself with what gives you strength and clarity.

Obviously, you know who is who when you have your eyes open, but when you begin to blend your energy field with the person you are working on, all kinds of images, sensations and impressions begin to flow between you and your partner. This can be confusing if you don’t have a means of discerning where these impressions are coming from, whether they are images coming from you or out of the other person’s energy field. Here is simple, but effective tip:

When you give a massage or energy treatment, instead of making contact with your partner as the very first thing you do, try disconnecting from your partner first. Before touching your partner, pull back into yourself and take a mental “snapshot” of yourself. This means become aware of yourself at that moment.

Ask yourself:

  • How does my body feel? Are there areas of pain, restriction, discomfort?

  • What is going on in my energy system?

  • What is happening in me emotionally? Am I calm, centered, or upset? Am I aligned and focused, open to receive guidance?

  • What are my attitudes and intentions at this moment?

When you give a massage or energy treatment, instead of making contact with your partner as the very first thing you do, try disconnecting from your partner first.

Just a snapshot is all you need. This is not about changing or correcting anything about yourself; it's just a moment of extra awareness. This will give you a basis for distinguishing between your own projections, on the one hand, and images which may come to you as helpful information for working with your partner, on the other, when you finally make contact with your partner. When you shift your awareness in this way, you are creating a semi-permeable boundary that will serve both you and your partner.

Once you have disconnected from your partner, the other important piece of this preparation for a treatment is your attunement to higher consciousness or a higher intelligence. Remember that energy follows your intention. This is the time when many practitioners pray for a blessing and guidance for this healing session. While one person might link with Light or Christ, another might call on his or her guides or angels, or those of the person about to receive the treatment, to be present. Or, you might simply get in touch with your best, most healing intentions toward the person you are about to work on. Whatever your orientation, it is important to shift your awareness to what you consider to be a source of healing.

Other Considerations

What about giving energy treatments at times when you are not at your best? Can you do harm? While you obviously don’t give treatments if you are on an out-of-control emotional binge, any more than you would work on someone if you had a contagious disease, you can still give very effective treatments even when you are down, or moody or in a “negative space.” The reason why this is so—and I’ve experienced this many many times— is that if you can subordinate your ego, open yourself to a higher power and open in compassion for the person you are working with, and work within real energy principles, you will create a situation that not only works in a healing way on your partner, but also on you. If you can’t do those things, then, obviously, it is not time to do a healing session. Ultimately, you need to be the judge of that.

The healing energy you direct to your partner moves through your system first. Many times I have gone into a treatment feeling lousy, and come out feeling great, and my partner feels great, too. And it has nothing to do with “ripping off” your partner’s energy. It is a mutual process. You and your partner blend and form a single energetic unit which is subject to the movement of healing energy. You can tap into a process that is much bigger than you.

It has consistently been my experience that these simple practices of first disconnecting from the person I am about to work with and attending to my inner orientation as I go along, together with the ongoing work I do on myself, give me confidence that allows me to open to my partner without fear. On the rare occasions when I do a session with someone who makes me feel uncomfortable or defensive, I take the position that this encounter the situation has alerted me to something in myself that needed attention, so I have gained from the experience. In some cases, I have referred these persons to a practitioner who I felt would be better able to work with them.

In Conclusion

If you are going to be involved with healing work, don’t fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. One thing is for sure, though: the more you develop your skills and qualities as a healer, the more you will draw to you individuals who need exactly what you have to offer, and the more your sessions will take place in an atmosphere of love and openness. You will come through even the strangest and most challenging sessions shining like a new dime.

adapted from my book Energy Healing: A Pathway to Inner Growth

Over to You (here's a chance to use the forum):

  • What is your experience with this issue of energy transfer?

  • What do you do before and after a session?

Copyright© 2017 by Jim Gilkeson. All rights reserved.

Illustrations by Aimee Eldridge and Beth Budesheim.

#negativeenergy #energyproblems #energetictransfer #pretreatment #beforeanenergytreatment

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