- Jim Gilkeson
Defining Your Practice
I seem to have found one of my niches, which is pondering how to talk about energy healing. My classes and mentorships all have something to do with integrating principles and practices of energy healing with more tissue-oriented forms of bodywork. An essential part of these classes is learning how to work at the cusp of physical structure and energy movement. These classes have names like "Touch, Presence and Healing," Non-Forcing Release Techniques" and "Energy Healing and Expression." As it happens, after some of these classes, students find that their practices start to morph into something that is not solely about "tissue issues" any more, and with that comes the need to redefine their practice.
The introduction of energy practices into conventional bodywork subtly changes hands-on therapy to a different undertaking. This doesn't leave behind the need to help our healing partners feel better and to promote healing and relief. But now, with attention being paid to the energetic as well as the physical, bodyworkers who add energy healing to their bags of tools find that emotional and psycho-spiritual issues are now in play. Here again, the need to redefine how we think of our practices and, importantly, how we talk about them with those we serve.
In order to get into the subject, I've collected several articles I have written over the years on the communication task you face as your practice shapeshifts:
"Talking About Esoteric Stuff"
The question often comes up in thoughtful energy healing practitioners who are launching a public practice: "How do I talk about what I do?" Let’s face it, there is quite a communication task when it comes to talking or writing about subtle energywork. Explaining anything “alternative” to a person for whom it is new can be challenging. It can be like trying to explain shoes to a snake, or the expression “clothing optional” to your great-aunt. It’s hard to know where (or if) you should even start. You always run into the weirdness factor, which is to say that you are trying to put into words something that lies outside everyday conversational subject material of most people who aren’t themselves an alternative practitioner, a meditator, yogi or student of the esoteric arts and sciences, or a Northern Californian.
Here is the first of a small series of reflections on the communication task when it comes to energywork. These are not going to be formulae for "what to say" so much as ways I have found to appreciate the challenge of building bridges to other people. Read More
"Why I Switched to Generic Language for Energy Work"
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, in the exercises and treatments that I teach, I use terms like “energy centers” and “energy-active positions” to identify key energetic locations on your body, along with instructions on how to develop your awareness of them. By doing so, my hope is to find a language that works for an experience-based approach to learning energy healing, 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 unduly burdened by lots of ideas about what’s supposed to happen.
Why is the choice of terminology so important? A teacher of bodywork once told me, “One of the nice things about teaching physiology is that no matter if a person is an atheist or a Christian or an Muslim, an elbow is still an elbow, a knee is still a knee, flexion is still flexion and extension is still extension.” Unfortunately, the study of energywork does not have the luxury of a universally agreed upon language and description of its subject matter. Read More
"A Trap to Avoid"
Many people who get into energy healing have had some kind of “mountain top” experience that has left them with an insight into life and their path in this world, and lots of energy. They become activists and set out to convert the world. They crack out the door every morning like superheroes, filled with missionary fervor to get the world back on track. By and by, as they try to communicate their vision to others, they are often disappointed when people who haven’t been up to the same mountain top as they have aren’t particularly receptive to their message. Too often, they end up feeling like prophets crying in the wilderness.
Do you know this situation? Add to that the uncomfortable moments when you become acutely aware of the experience and worldview gap between you and the person you're talking to. Someone might even take a swipe at your beliefs. There are moments when it can feel like something precious is being tread upon. Read More
"Work on Your "Mental Muscles" before Talking about Energy Healing"
If you work with clients, there are likely going to be moments when you are challenged to talk about what you do. Maybe you are asked to submit an article about healing or some group invites you to give a talk about your work. You realize that there is no reason you have to just stand there flat-footed, doubting what you actually know, feeling tongue-tied because you're still working on a language that allows you to communicate effectively. Then it's time to get some "mental muscles" in your thinking about energywork.
Start with Yourself
As you prepare yourself to talk about energy healing or explain things to clients, teach a workshop to people new to the field, start with yourself and your own concepts. See if you can "sneak up" on how you came by your particular set of beliefs. Which of your beliefs came to you from teachers and books? Which came out of your own hard-won experience? This latter group is worth paying attention to because "farming" your own experiences allows your insights to ripen into language that is natural and that belongs to you. Read More
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