The Subtle Energetics of the Self
By SHERIKA TENAYA
Some of the most intrinsically powerful experiences we can access as humans are things that cannot be seen, touched, tasted, heard or smelled with our primary senses.
Love is the foremost example that comes to mind, a deeply profound state of being that can only be felt by the individual. How does one know they are in love? In what way is it “felt”? Perhaps there is another sense we use, apprehended on a deeper layer, at a deeper level of our awareness.
Love, one could argue, is something that is felt on an energetic level. There is an energy to love that pervades our being when we experience it. In fact, all interpersonal exchanges - whether good or bad - have an energetic imprint associated with them that stays with us after the fact.
Learning to recognize and work with this deeper, energetic layer of ourselves and our environment can help us positively impact all aspects of our lives as well as help us to navigate the darker moments life throws at us, as psychiatrist and professor Judith Orloff M.D. describes in her book Positive Energy:
“We live in a world of violence, selfishness, an erratic economy, and scary diseases - as well as a world of love, miracles, and healing. All this affects our energy, while our own energy affects people around us. We are part of great swirling invisible energy fields, positive and negative, that shape personal and planetary health.”
In her book, she emphasizes the importance of learning to trust in oneself, particularly in the power of one’s intuition, which she defines beautifully as a “potent inner wisdom not mediated by the rational mind that allows us to sense beyond the physical”, asserting that one’s personal intuition “offers a direct line to your life force and also...to a divine intelligence” and further, that intuition “is the language of energy.”
If you have a hard time believing in your ability to experience and interact with energy, try this simple exercise:
- Rub your hands together vigorously for about 10 seconds.
- Stop and hold your hands together that so that the palms are not quite touching. Feel that tingly little buzzy force field running between your two hands? You’ve just created energy in your hands using friction.
- Now rub your hands together again. When you feel the energy build up, put your hands on your heart and send that energy into your heart.
- Take a few deep breaths, focusing on the connection between your hands and heart. Does your heart feel warmer? Are you more aware of it?
You just used intention and fricative movement to create energy in one part of your body and sent it to another.
In learning to reclaim our awareness of ourselves as intuitive energetic beings subsumed in, and constantly orchestrating, energy - we can come to understand ourselves in new ways that shed light on aspects of who we are or how we move through the world that society might teach us to dismiss or feel shameful over.
Consider the following questions and do your best to answer them as honestly as you can, despite whatever social inferences you might feel associated with your answer.
Have you ever been told that you’re overly sensitive?
If a friend is distraught or in physical pain, do you start feeling it too?
Do you become drained in crowds and find yourself going out of your way to avoid them?
Do you get anxious in packed elevators, airplanes or subways?
Are you hypersensitive to noise, scents, or excessive talking?
When you see gruesome scenes in movies or hear disturbing newscasts, do you notice an overall shift in your energy or mood?
Do you become overwhelmed or burned out by groups and require lots of time alone to replenish yourself?
If you answered yes to any of these questions (and especially more than one), Dr. Orloff says that this is a mark of your capacity for intuitive empathy and that it’s especially important for you to take charge of your “energetic health”.
She says intuitive empaths “process all stress in their bodies [and] are more prone to take in a personal or global trauma’s energetic residue. Vulnerable to negativity, whether minuscule or horrendous, many empaths have chronically low energy, a common complaint that baffles traditional physicians. The symptoms of intuitive overload include depression, psychosomatic complaints, and overeating.”
Why does this matter? Because if you can understand and recognize your propensity towards intuitive empathy, then you can see more clearly how the energy of external stimuli and other people can impact you. Thusly, you can make more conscious choices about the kinds of people you surround yourself with and the kind of environments you choose to engage with.
“Certain people,” Dr. Orloff explains. “Give off positive energy, others negative. It’s the quality of someone's being, a measure of the love with which they’ve led their lives. It also reflects the inner work they’ve done, their efforts to heal anger, hatred or self-looting, which poisons us like toxic fumes. Energetically these linger, precluding joy from shining through.”
Signs of Positive Energy in People:
Signs of Negative Energy in People:
To practice and hone your ability to sense the energy of others, try the following exercise from Dr. Orloff’s book:
- Stand within two feet of someone - whether a co-worker or a shopper in the mall.
- Notice how he or she feels.
- Ask yourself: “Am I attracted? Repelled? Unsettled or at ease?”
- Honestly assess: “Do I feel more robust or worn out?”
By continuously sensing into the energy of those around you, you can begin to ascertain who nurtures you and who drains you. Pinpoint those who consistently and continuously drag you down and make the call you need to make to take care of your energetic well-being.
Understanding and adapting to your own energetics and the energetics that surround you isn’t some new age, woo-woo nonsense, nor is it solely the realm of mystics and spiritual gurus to influence. Each of us is born with the innate ability to sense into this level of our being and need only practice mindful awareness of it to provide ourselves a deep level of personal guidance in making choices that optimize our health, our sanity and our well-being.