Guidelines for Doing Personal Energy Practices
In this posting (which, for reasons unknown, came out in blue print), I would like to set down some guidelines for doing energy exercises. These come from having done and taught meditative energy practices since the early 1980s, in which time I have developed a good deal of respect for what they can unlock within us if they are used well.
Motivations shift over time. What begins as a strategy for fixing something in ourselves, for example, can give way to an open-ended exploration of what in going on in our inner lives. What starts as a kind of "up-and-out" strategy for exiting from the problems we face in this world can give way to a strategy of "ground, center and expand" which allows us to grow spiritually while being deeply connected to everyday life.
And so, in the name of energywork practices that help us to develop our qualities in a safe, responsible manner, here are some guidelines.
Where These Guidelines are Coming From
With practice, energetic exercises like the ones you will find in my classes, books and these blog pages will teach you how to move within your body and psyche. The inner world which these pilgrimages open is potent, both in its capacity to heal and to confront, so these practices ought not to be done lightly. In most cases, an incorrectly done exercise will simply not do much at all. In other cases, where instructions about sequence of steps, length (in time) and frequency of the practice and direction of movement are not followed, some people will get momentarily “spaced out.” Others will find unconscious material surfacing in ways that can be confusing or uncomfortable, especially for persons unused to working on themselves. As you venture into this exploration, be advised of the following, which I borrow from Robert Johnson’s book Inner Work:
You must understand that when you approach the unconscious you are dealing with one of the most powerful and autonomous forces in human experience. The techniques of inner work are intended to set in motion the great forces of the unconscious, but in a sense this is like taking the cap off a geyser: Things can get out of hand if you are not careful. If you fail to take this process seriously, or try to turn it into mere entertainment, you can hurt yourself.
None of this should dissuade you from doing inner work. We are only observing a universal law: Anything that has great power for good can also be destructive if the power is mishandled. If we want to live intimately with the powerful forces of the inner world, we must also respect them.
And so I urge judicious use of this material, which comes out of many years of my own practice, and the experiences of my teachers, clients and workshop participants. Much of the inspiration for this material has been drawn from ancient world traditions as well. To do these traditions justice, I wish to promote a sense of the sacred in the responsible use of this knowledge.
There is an intentional design to each exercise. They are put together with a beginning, middle and end. They are constructed specifically to
allow you to enter some area of experience;
in some cases, create the opportunity for emotional, physical and mental release;
draw in energy from higher dimensions of consciousness (this is what makes them healing exercises);
then come back to normal body awareness and integrate what has been contacted during the exercise.
Energy Exercise Guidelines
1. Find an appropriate time. There might be certain times of day that are better than others for doing energy exercise. Experiment around until you find good times for you and your personal rhythms. Find times when you will not be disturbed. Tell others with whom you live that you need this time to yourself. Unplug the phone. Know also that doing certain exercises just before going to bed can keep you awake.
2. Allow time between exercises. Unless otherwise recommended, allow a day or two between days when you do a specific exercise. If you are doing two different exercises concurrently, simply do them on alternate days. Note that it takes about thirty-six hours for the altered movement caused in your energy field by the exercise to register at the level of bodily consciousness. This time period allows for the grounding and integration of the energy you draw into your body by doing the exercise.
3. Be precise. Where appropriate, check the subtle anatomy guidelines where new positions are introduced if you are uncertain as to how to find a specific point or energy center. It is important to know where they are in order to get a good contact with them.
4. Observe good body posture. Unless otherwise indicated, do these exercises sitting upright or even standing, but not lying down. An erect, relaxed posture with your feet on the ground is generally most conducive to breathing easily and creating a good contact with the earth. In addition, a lying position is most people’s habitual sleeping position. Granted, this is a shift in consciousness, but not the one we have in mind with the exercise!
5. Breathing Pattern: Unless otherwise indicated, the breathing pattern for these exercises is in through your nose and out through your nose.
6. No marathons. Observe the time periods. They are important in all exercises, especially those in which there is a meditation period or a release phase. The reason for this is, again, the need to ground and integrate what is drawn into your energy system when you do the exercise. In addition, when an exercise is to last a pre-determined amount of time, it means there is a mechanism in place for coming back from whatever you encounter in the exercise. This can be of great help in gaining the confidence necessary for entering areas of consciousness which might otherwise be daunting.
7. Do all the steps: Be careful to observe and do each step of the instructions. If you do not understand an instruction it is better not to do the exercise at all, rather than doing it and doing it wrong. Simply drop the exercise that is giving you trouble and move on to an exercise that is clear to you.
8. Keep a journal, either written or tape-recorded.
9. Honor the Context: Finally, here is a request which I make to all my workshop participants, one which I also make to you: Please keep these exercises to yourself. They have come to you in the context of at least this blog which prepared you to work with them. Unless you are willing and prepared to do the same for those with whom you would share this work, don’t piecemeal it out.
Each of the exercises we work with can have very strong effects. If they are done regularly over a period of time, they will tend to draw you into what I call a “trajectory of effects,” that will influence your personal self-healing process, and can be tracked on many levels. (For more about the kinds of effects you can expect from energy healing practices, see my recent post, "Getting the Most Out of an Energy Healing Session.") The only way to responsibly prescribe such an exercise to another person is to make certain you are familiar with how it affects you over a period of time.