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  • Jim Gilkeson

"Tooling Up"-(phases in learning energy healing part 2)

This continues our series on phases of learning energy healing. A lot of us are autodidacts and life-long learners who cycle many times through the stages of becoming proficient at something.

Besides healing work, I have paid a lot of attention over the years to my process as a musician. For me, the two have a lot in common. With both music and energy healing, I run into issues of technical mastery and the spirit that moves through. I once made music with an African man from Chad. His knowledge of the guitar was clearly homemade and minimal in the technical sense, but the music and rhythm that came through him went straight into my heart. He had only a few tools in his bag, so to speak, but he was a real musician—the spirit of music spoke through him! I never forgot that encounter.

In this posting, I'm going to talk in a couple of ways about phases of learning, things that apply to music and energy healing and everything else worth learning. I hope this is useful to you as you reflect on the path of learning you are on.

Tooling Up

We pass many times through phases of learning as we move into the mastery of any skill or the expression of a spiritual quality. A master of anything has all the phases of her learning wrapped up inside her like so many babooshka dolls. She remembers the joy of her early beginner’s luck, a time when she was so unaware of her incompetence that little successes just seemed to fall into her lap. She may have even told herself, “there’s really not all that much to this!” Then she remembers that, by and by, she began to encounter people who really knew what they were doing, and she still cringes sometimes at the memory of how very much she didn’t know.

That acute awareness of her incompetence, she recalls, was the very goad that made her seek instruction and actually undergo some discipline. By and by, she learned and grew and reached a point where she was competent—more than competent—and she knew it. Each move, each turn, each handhold, each step, was completely under her control.

But situations arose which challenged her little mastery. They didn’t fit the template she had worked so long to perfect. People began finding her whose needs demanded something beyond her competence. She remembers the tears and the sleepless nights as, little by little, she moved toward an invisible edge. She remembers the day she let go of all that she had scripted for herself. All the rudiments and scales she had practiced so assiduously fell away and for the first time in her life, she became the music. The steps she had meticulously choreographed mysteriously disappeared and she just danced. Her technical perfection and all the modalities she had learned gave way to the spirit of healing. She looks back now, and thinks to herself, that must have been when I got my wings. She is now as unconscious of her great competence as a flower is of its beauty. Her mastery is unique to her and exists as a gift to this world.

• • •

Learning energy healing takes us through similar stages and phases of growth. As with any other skill there are many levels of mastery in energy healing, as the techniques of your work give way to the art of being with another person in a healing and present way. Technical skills blend with the feeling you have for what you are doing and become part of your expression of your healing gift. Let’s look at four distinct phases of mastery that show up cyclically in healer education.

Many energy healers work intuitively, with a minimum of technical knowledge, and their lack of formal training presents no barrier to their effectiveness. For most of us who venture into this territory, however, the natural gifts we bring with us are often in need of schooling. I personally believe that, as NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts once said, “there’s something to be said for knowing something.” Many people can feel energy and its movement, for example, but most of us have to go through a phase of learning in order to sort out the various impressions we receive. Our sensorium needs to be trained to deliver information that can be acted on, even though "acting" on it often means simply paying attention, being present, being mindful.

Learning exercises and treatment forms is clearly part of a kind of tooling up phase. These include the necessary work of

  • Learning to influence the energy field in a trustworthy and useful way;

  • Locating energy-active positions on and around the body and learning their particular traits;

  • Learning about energy phenomena, especially as they relate to healing, release, personal development and non-ordinary states of consciousness;

  • Learning protocolized treatment forms and how to use structure, as well as learning to work free-form;

  • Learning personal development practices. In addition to providing a means of participation in our inner growth, this is the best, and sometimes only, laboratory we have for learning about energy healing.

We don’t tool up only once. Tooling-up is pretty neat, pretty fascinating, and there is a big tendency in this phase to lust after more and more techniques. Some students get antsy at this stage and indulge in feeding frenzies, as if they have convinced themselves that if they only knew enough techniques, everything would be okay. So they go on binges, haunting esoteric bookstores and reading every book on healing, and attending workshops until they’re broke, trying to satisfy a seemingly endless hunger for information. As everyone finds out, however, you can go to school for years and come out heavy with knowledge, but the moment you start actually working with clients, you find out that more is needed. (In the next post in this series, we'll take up the issue of evolving an approach of your own.)

How does it look with you in your learning of energy healing?

A wee reminder:

On Dec. 7, I will be offering a LIVE online class called

This is the first in a series of

low-cost, easy-access live online classes.

Join us.

You'll be in a virtual classroom with colleagues and like-minded people.

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