Energy Work—The Basics

Energy Work—The Basics

By Barbara Clearbridge, M.Div.

NOTE: This article was written in 1995 and revised in 2012. For the most up-to-date information on scientific theories about energy work healing, I highly recommend The Field, by Lynne McTaggart. 

1.         What Is Energy Work, and How Does It Restore and Maintain Health?

2.         Energy Work With Psychotherapy: The Quickest Way From Here To There for Emotional Healing

3.         What Is Spiritual Healing, and How Is It Different From Energy Work?


1. What Is Energy Work, and Why Does It Restore and Maintain Health?

In the 5th century B.C. yogis wrote of healers directing a force from their hands which cured patients, and that this cure could be effected over long distances by the healer consciously directing therapeutic mental forces toward the patient.

Working with energy to heal ourselves, and to help others to heal, has a long and a proud history. Nearly 100 cultures around the world use forms of energy work. Some techniques, such as acupuncture, are thousands of years old. Introduced to mainstream North American culture in the 1970’s, energy work is also called “energy medicine” and “vibrational medicine.”

Energy work is based on principles natural to us, but which our culture has alternately banned, forgotten, ignored, branded as magic or witchcraft, relegated to God and saints, and ridiculed as fraudulent. Every parent uses one of its principles, however—when their child gets hurt, the parent holds the hurt area or holds the child. This is because there are healing energies in our hands. All of us, when we are hurt or ill, instinctively use our hands to soothe the pain.

There are two prevalent theories about how energy work brings healing. The first is the resonance/information theory. The atoms which form the body are made of moving particles with different electrical charges. Atoms group together to form the molecules of which matter is made. All the substance of the body is made of these moving particles. So, though the body appears physically solid, every cell is actually in motion; it is part of an energy wave. Energy work heals because the entire body is made of energy.

Research suggests that “living systems” (anything alive, whether a “being” or not) regulate themselves by means of an internal “coherent field” extending throughout the organism from the inside to the outside. This field contains bioinformation. Living systems also respond to external energy phenomena. Disease, or a condition disposing the organism to disease, may occur at an energetic level when the biofield is disrupted. In other words, certain kinds of energy waves thwart health by disrupting the energy field, and therefore its bioinformation. Conversely, the research suggests that there are also certain energy frequencies (forms of energy wave) which, when applied externally, produce beneficial effects. They “tune” the organism back to a state of health.

Energy fields are also called “electromagnetic fields” because of their electrical and magnetic properties. Electromagnetic fields can produce highly specific biological responses in body tissues. Some waveforms bring results as specific as drugs do.

Energy work is effective because it impacts the rhythms, frequencies, wavelengths and electrical charges of the vibrating energy waves which form the body. Disrupted energy waves are weaker than healthy waves, and chaotic rather than organized. Therefore, when these weaker waves collide with healthy waves, they are influenced by the stronger waves, and take on matching properties. This is called healing by “resonance.”

As a simple example of the effect of resonance, think about how music affects you. It can change your mood, ease pains, even be felt physically (usually in the chest or head) if it is loud enough.  Think of a bass amplifier making your bones rattle, or the sonorous chord of a pipe organ which reverberates in your chest. This happens because the energy waves in your body change as they resonate with the energy waves of the music.

Research shows that certain types of ultraweak electromagnetic fields can stimulate a healing response.

Discoveries in the emerging science of bioelectromagnetics (bio-electro-magnetics) have demonstrated a variety of biological effects from the application of ultraweak electromagnetic fields. One explanation is that electromagnetic forces on the cell membrane modify ligand-receptor interactions (such as the binding of hormones and calcium), which in turn alter the internal state of the cell. One energy work technique, called Reiki, increases the ability of cells to carry oxygen. Scientists are just beginning to understand the mechanisms of energy work.

Modern medicine has noted the effects of electromagnetic fields and has accepted that these energies are integral to our bodies. Examples of treatments and diagnostics using these energies are: MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), ultra-sound, EKGs (electro-cardiograms), EEGs (electro-encephalograms), TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), radiation therapies, and CAT scans (Computerized Axial Tomography, done through x-rays). These devices work by reading or affecting the body’s electromagnetic fields. For example, the EEG determines how healthy you are by measuring the electromagnetic fields emitted by your central nervous system. Electromagnetic fields are used in devices to speed the healing of bone fractures, to stimulate nerves to decrease chronic pain, and to treat insomnia and mood disorders. Among other devices being developed now is one that seeks to promote soft tissue healing and regeneration, and another that stimulates the immune response.

Some energy waves emitted by the body are in the range of waves we see as light. Very low intensity visible and ultraviolet light, called “biophoton emission,” is emitted by most organisms, and carries information about the organism. Researchers have described this light as a coherent, organized energy field. Biophoton emission has been used experimentally in cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Experimental results show differences in the light emitted from cancerous tissue compared with the light from normal tissue. The degree of this difference in light emission may be used to diagnose the degree of tissue abnormality. This is one way energy work practitioners can diagnose; they also find differences in energy emission, but they do it by using their hands and their perceptive abilities.

To summarize the Resonance/Information theory:

The research implies that magnetic emissions, electromagnetic emissions, or biophoton emissions from the healer send information to the energy field of the client, whose unhealthy patterns are then corrected through resonance.

The second theory of energy work healing describes an Energy System including organs (called energy centers or chakras, from the Sanskrit term), circulatory channels (called meridians, from the acupuncture term) and an enclosing skin (the energy field or aura). It is the sensitivity of your energy field that lets you know when someone has come up behind you, although you did not see or hear them. Some scientists are not convinced of this theory because it is difficult to measure using current technology. However, acupuncture and other practices rely on it and they have brought healing for thousands of years.

The primary function of the Energy System is to bring in, circulate, and release the energies we need to live. These energies are the basic stuff of life, they surround, permeate, and give birth to everything in our world. The concept of a basic life-force energy has been part of the philosophy of life and health in Eastern cultures for millennia. In Japan it is known as “ki,” in India it is “prana” and in China it is “chi”(also spelled “qi”). The ancient Chinese discovered that qi had its own circulatory system separate from that of the blood, although the two systems were intimately intertwined. The Chinese believed that the movement of qi influenced the flow of blood. What, then, directs qi? They say it is directed by “yi,” which is the intention of the mind. It can also be moved by conscious breathing. Qi is therefore seen as a psycho-physiological force connected to the flow of breath, blood, and inner thoughts.

In addition to the particular energy system outlined above, I have found several others. They all contribute to how healthy one is.

To be healthy, one must have a healthy energy system. Therapies focus on cleaning out, balancing, repairing, or in other ways healing the energy system.

What causes weaknesses and damage in the energy system? Everything that happens to us affects it. Injury, illness, trauma, birth and in-utero influences all leave their mark. Because of the influence the energy system has on all other bodily systems, it plays an essential role in your health.

Healing is done using specific techniques in combination with the conscious intentions of the client and the energy work practitioner.

Even without a theory with which everyone agrees, many experiments have proved that energy medicine, whether provided by machine or by laying-on-of-hands, does work.

Healing techniques have been passed down to us through oral tradition, sacred texts, and traditional apprenticeships. Modern methods can come from a synthesis of the older techniques, from experimentation, and from scientific research. Hands-on techniques being used in North America include Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, acupressure, cranio-sacral therapy, and Healing Touch. Non-touch forms of energy work include homeopathy (there have been homeopathic hospitals in Europe for decades), acupuncture, music therapy, aromatherapy, techniques using light and color, and many others.

Energy work is used for many purposes: to maintain good health and a sense of well-being, to heal injuries and illnesses, to promote mental and emotional healing, to relieve pain, to manage stress, to assist trauma recovery, to reduce drug side effects, to free people from addictions, to regenerate a sense of self-worth and purpose, and to support the process of dying. Energy work complements all types of medical care. A growing number of hospitals include Therapeutic Touch and Reiki in routine nursing care.

Receiving energy work usually feels wonderful. The energies go to the source of the problem rather than treating the outwardly visible symptom. When the energy work reaches the submerged cause, then complete, permanent healing can occur. Usually there is some sort of immediate relief of symptoms. Sometimes strong emotions are released, such as anger or sorrow. Some conditions can be healed in a single session; some require multiple sessions. Sometimes symptoms intensify for a while during the healing process.


2. Energy Work With Psychotherapy: The Quickest WayFrom Here To There for Emotional Healing

Psychotherapy and energy work go extremely well together to bring complete emotional healing. Both modalities reveal underlying emotional issues. Energy work can clear the effects of trauma from all systems in the body, and can teach new ways of handling stress. Psychotherapy brings insight and conscious understanding to enable people to reconcile the past and find new ways of thinking and relating to others. Using both types of treatment greatly speeds the healing process, because you are working on conscious, subconscious, and physical levels simultaneously.

It is best to work with a professional energy worker and a professional psychotherapist who are willing to consult together. The depth of training required in both fields makes it difficult for one person to have sufficient experience to fulfill both functions.


3. What Is Spiritual Healing and How Is It Different From Energy Work?

Spiritual healing is different from energy work, though often combined in practice. For energy work, you use the principles of the energy system and of resonance healing. Though many professional energy workers develop their senses in order to perceive energy and energy systems, you can do a lot of healing without paranormal abilities.

Spiritual healing is not based on science. Divine agents and energies work through you to bring healing to the client. Like the healing power of prayer, a great part of spiritual healing is not yet understood. You set up the right conditions in your body, you make your intent clear, and your client accepts the possibility of healing, though she/he does not have to be convinced—it is not “faith healing.” Then you work following your intuition and paranormal perceptions. You work also from love—love of God, love of your client as a human being, and love of the body and its ability to heal. Cause and effect do not work in their usual ways, nor do time and space, and so seeming miracles occur.

Spiritual healing can also mean going beyond illness of the body and mind to illness of the spirit, and healing issues such as personal meaning, self-acceptance, and life purpose.

Being part of a spiritual healing is a sacred experience, full of sensations of beings beyond ourselves and of realities very different from mundane daily life. You may become aware of infinite possibilities for healing. You may feel ecstasy, and the nearness of God.

©1995; rev. 2012 Barbara Clearbridge, All rights  reserved.

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