Conversion of Sensitivity [the fear factor] (PI-2)
(This is a continuation of ideas in my post from August 3, 2017, "Unwanted Energy Transfer . . ." [Practitioner Issues-1]:)
One of the main themes of this blog is the necessity for energy healers to do their own inner work. In some areas of healing work it might seem like enough to learn external techniques to use on others without paying much attention to your own inner world. Energy healing, on the other hand, will not let you get away with that for very long. Indeed, energy healers who neglect their inner work tend to hit a wall in their development and their practice doesn’t deepen.
Your qualities as a healer flourish when you meet another person in the compassionate space we call healing At its best, this is a joyous, open-hearted, blessing-filled undertaking, and often it is unresolved fear that keeps this from being a reality. In this post, I would like to share an observation about something I see in the massage, bodywork and energywork community, namely the level of anxiety that exists among many practitioners when it comes to other people's energy.
I am struck by the number of times I am asked questions in classes about how to protect oneself from other people’s “stuff” when doing energywork. It shows in the elaborate rituals that some of us have for keeping other people’s energy at bay. This makes us all too easy to caricature, doesn’t it?—calling down armies of angels and guides to protect them; visualizing shields of impenetrable crystalline light between themselves and the other person; and slinging the other person’s energy across the room as if it was a poisonous eel from hell. All of this reveals a good deal of ambivalence and anxiety about touching and connecting with other people.
Needless to say, if you are afraid of the person you are about to work with, it is better not to work with them. At the same time, it strikes me as absurd to be involved with healthcare and healing work—which in its most essential terms are about love and connection—while also being afraid of what contact with the other person might do to you. Don’t get me wrong here; I do not mean to belittle the legitimate concerns about basic hygiene and the phenomena of energy transfer in energywork. At the same time, it is also true that many practitioners seem bent on perpetuating their own unexamined fears when they build up a story in their minds about how dangerous other people’s “stuff” is.
Let's look closer at this.
People who have a desire to learn energywork are often already able to sense energy movement. It might scare them, or thrill them, or make them curious, but they want to do more of it. Not surprisingly many people who are drawn to energywork already have a highly developed sensorium and a refined nervous system. By that, I mean that they draw to themselves all kinds of impressions through the medium of their extended senses. Their ears and noses twitch with activity. Their skin is alive with sensation and the hairs on their heads and bodies seem to bristle like antennae. Nothing gets by them. Quite often, they are very empathic.
All of this is important, of course. In order to do energy healing in a purposeful way, you have to have some way to connect consciously with what you are doing, so all that natural sensitivity comes in very handy. It would seem that those who are gifted with an unusually high sensitivity have an advantage when it comes to learning energy healing, but just as often they are faced with a challenge of another kind.
Many people who have a desire to do energetic healing work were very sensitive, delicate children to begin with. If, in addition to childhood’s inevitable growing pains, bumps and bruises, they have been subjected to extraordinary trauma such as emotional or physical abuse, war or other forms of violence, it is natural for that gift of sensitivity to become very selective, organized around the need to feel safe. Accordingly, when an anxiety about the basic safety of life is carried over into contact with other people in touchwork and energy healing, it is easy to see how this can color the whole undertaking.
The question becomes: How can this sensitivity get re-organized, converted from being strictly an "early warning system" to keep me safe to being a means for me to receive useful impressions when I work with other people? And why stop there? What other possibilities open when this gift of sensitivity is not colored by fear?
Direct and Indirect Pathways
Anybody with a gift has to go through something in order for the gift to come into expression. In the development of any spiritual gift or quality there are numerous thresholds that you have to cross in order to come into your own. It is certainly the case with healing.
In working with ourselves, we often dance back and forth between direct and indirect pathways. With a direct pathway, we do something proactive and intentional. You go out and do something that expresses your qualities, and in the doing, you learn to “jump over your own shadow.” Maybe you spend a morning carefully re-arranging objects on your shelves, finally go hang-gliding or show up on the spur of the moment at the local open mic and sing a torch song by Sarah McLaughlin.
Other times, we operate more indirectly by working with the obstacles to expression—so that the process of expression can be allowed to unfold, unimpeded, in its own way. Getting at your fears and facing them are prime examples of this. Facing and overcoming fear might, in a way, be the most basic spiritual practice. Theologian Matthew Fox once made the point that the background reason for such practices as vision quests and sweat lodges among Native Americans is to prepare your heart and help you overcome fear, so that you are ready for anything.
Turning toward our fear as it arises is an indirect pathway into everything we are after in spiritual practice because when you are able to face your fear—the glue that’s holding together much that gets in the way—and let it quiet down, so that it is no longer getting in the way, then other things begin to happen all by themselves. Without the impediment of fear, your spiritual qualities flow all by themselves. You calm down the fear factor so that you achieve the equanimity necessary to meet life mindfully, heartfully.
Ultimately, this comes down to the need to have love at the center of what we do with our gifts. It is not that the healer is supposed to somehow be immune to fear. But there is a great difference between a fear that is faced, felt and discharged, on the one hand, and one that festers, unacknowledged and unattended to. This conversion of our sensitivity from a base of fear to one rooted in love and openness is an essential part of our inner work as energy healers.
Adapted from A Pilgrim in Your Body: Energy Healing and Spiritual Process.
Copyright©, 2017 by Jim Gilkeson. All rights reserved.
Diving Deeper: If you have gained some confidence in doing energy-oriented meditative exercises and wan to explore this subject more, check out chapter 13 in A Pilgrim in Your Body called "Fear: A Hidden Ally."