Energy Work, Uncategorized

Mental Illness & Spiritual Awakenings | Reiki Energy Work for Everyday People


Shaman, Mental Illness, and Spiritual Awakenings

What a Shaman Sees In a Mental Hospital | Spirit Science | Reiki Energy Work for Everyday People.

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals ‘the birth of a healer,’ explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

Mental Illness: Breakdown or Breakthrough?

A friend recently posted this article, What a Shaman See’s [sic] In a Mental Hospital, published on Spirit Science. The article explores the subject of mental illness and sensitivity as seen through the different cultural lenses of “breakdown” or “breakthrough” [of a spiritual awakening]. Dagara elder, Dr. Malidoma Patrice Somé (PhD),  shares his thoughts and experience in seeing these different treatment of mental illness in West Africa and in the the US.

Empowerment in the face(s) of schizophrenia

The first time I was introduced to this idea that schizophrenia is just the unmitigated experience of the spiritual in the physical realm was during graduate school in my patient counseling class. Lucky for me, my instructor was both a counselor and an energy worker/intuitive; she had plenty of first-hand experience seeing the many ‘unseen’ beings that came in with clients. She talked boldly of a time when she shared this knowledge with a client, letting him know he was not alone in his experience. Most importantly, she was the first person to teach this client about boundaries; and doing so empowered him to manage the situation from a place of strength and support.

Managing sensitivity

Many of my Reiki students start off considering themselves to be ‘insensitive’ to subtle energy. I, myself, started off thinking I was a “dull” type — unable to sense energy at all. Interestingly enough, however, many of these people (myself included) would say they are more sensitive than others when it comes to feeling overstimulated by sound, conversation, information, etc in daily life. Coincidence? Not really.

Sensitive is sensitive; it’s a gift. It’s the gift of caring, noticing, listening. Managing it is a skill — the skill of saying when to listen,when to say “I can’t” or “No, thank you”, and/or when the most caring thing you can do for someone else is to take care of yourselfbefore responding to a person or situation. In my opinion this is the big difference between what we call mental illness and what we call energy work: A sense of boundary and autonomy.

All the more reason to study with a teacher!

Your Practice This Week

Reflect on your commute to work or around town — have you ever passed someone you wrote off as “crazy”? Would your attitude towards them change if you believed they were communicating with an actual entity? How might you feel if in talking to everyone you know around you, no one experienced a shared reality with you? (Intense!)

Map of Energy Sources in Energy Work
Definitions, energy work

What is the source of energy in energy work?

If you’ve read my earlier post, you will have learned that energy work (as applies to us) is the manipulation of the human energy field. We can tonify its energy; we can deplete its energy. We can open the flow of its energy, or block its flow of energy. With what does an energy worker do this? That’s what we’re going to look at today!

Sources of energy

When it comes to calling upon the power of something, that power can be all sorts of things. It can be embodied, disembodied, or without body–you name it! Below are some of the most commonly tapped sources of energy (not an exhaustive list by any means):

Map of Energy Sources in Energy Work

Sample sources of energy in energy work practices.

Applying the White Horse Discourse

Around 300 BCE logician Gongsun Long wrote what’s now the well-known piece, the Treatise on the White Horse” (白馬論). It starts, “Can it be that a white horse is not a horse? It can.” It goes to explain that when we refine our awareness to looking through smaller and smaller viewfinders, we can start to lose our perspective on the forest from the trees. Of course a white horse is still a horse; but is not a black or brown one also a horse? Yes, of course. And yet, if I asked you, “Are a black horse and white horse the same?” then you would wholeheartedly attest–no! So, are they the same, or are they not? They’re both.

I think of this piece when I think about energy work, because I think the same could be said for energy. Let’s look at a prism:

Dispersive prism

Are not all colors of the rainbow found in white here? But if I asked you to show me white, and to show me red, you would show me two different colors, right? They’re the same in one regard, but appear differently, and act differently. Prepare yourself….

The web of life

In energy work, we use the energy source that’s most appropriate for the job (within our scope of knowledge and practice, with no doubt)- which may be a refined manifestation of cosmic consciousness. In other words, when I call on that which I perceive as “my higher consciousness,” that energy source may only be, in the prism analogy, a tint of dodger blue, which is a shade of primarily blue-green, which is a shade of blue, which is a color of the rainbow, which is a component of white light, which is a component of light, etc. Recognizing it’s all the fabric of consciousness, however, we realize there can be no energy source from which we draw energy that is not fundamentally an aspect of our own consciousness, as any perceived energy (whether it’s my superconscious or Reiki) can only be a tint of color within the spectrum of cosmic consciousness. Would you confuse a tint of dodger blue with white light? No, never. In this way, while we can acknowledge we are the living, breathing cosmic consciousness, we can’t mistake our level of awareness for that of cosmic consciousness. This is why we have energy work–to simultaneously honor our unique manifestation of consciousness, while continually opening our minds and bodies to greater and greater awareness, ever reminding us of our unity with All That Is.

Your Practice This Week

Reflect on a time you were ‘in the zone.’ Maybe you were singing, dancing, playing sports, public speaking, hiking, writing, etc. Did you have a sense of inhabiting an energy greater than your perceived “usual” self, or that something ‘greater’ was moving through you? What conditions do you think helped that sensation to arise?


For your wellbeing, please do not try doing working with these energies on your own. Always seek out a qualified practitioner; safety is key! 

Definitions, energy work

What is Energy Work?

Definition of Energy Work

I was so surprised when after I had been practicing energy work for 10 years, my sister (a medical professional) asked me, “What’s energy work?” I was even more surprised when I looked on Merriam-Webster online and Collins dictionary online to find no entry for the term. Again, there was no entry under the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine or on Encyclopaedia Britannica online. It’s no wonder people don’t know what energy work is, when there’s no readily available reference for the topic! So let me start by saying, if you haven’t heard the term itself, you’re not alone; and it’s quite possible you’re already familiar with energy work, having likely heard of, or experienced, one of its practices (more to come on this subject later!).

In short, energy work (alternatively spelled energywork) is an umbrella term for any practice that works with the body’s energy field.

Sapta Chakra, 1899

The seven-chakra system is just one type of mapping the main energy centers in the HEF, shown here in a yoga manuscript.

“Works” here can refer to anything from seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling, draining, replenishing, moving, to an instantaneous knowing. By the “body’s energy field,” I am referring to what is also known as the Human Energy Field (HEF), aura, or subtle bodies, etc. Typically there is a shared understanding among all practices within this category that the HEF both surrounds the physical form and permeates through it. In turn, changes to the physical body can affect the human energy field and vice versa.

Understanding Energy Work

One way to understand energy work is to consider the physical form a piece of electrical hardware with lights. As you send current through the board, the bulbs light up. In other words, when you send sufficient energy through, the hardware works well. Too little current, and the bulb goes dim. Damage a wire, and no matter how much current you send through the wire, the light cuts in and out. Are you starting to get the picture? We need both a well-working physical body and both sufficient and smooth energy flow to function optimally.

But, Is the Human Energy Field Real?

For some, this concept of the human energy field is challenging, because it’s not readily apparent. To sense it takes practice, and a certain willingness to be open to what’s not readily seen or felt by the ordinary senses. I found this image taken by NASA of the Orion constellation that I thought made a good analogy. To the left, this is the image viewed in visible light. To the right, is the same image, but viewed in infrared light. Can you get a sense looking at this image of how much is not readily apparent to us in our lives? Imagine how differently life could look in different light!

Orion const IR visible

More Importantly, Is Energy Work Helpful?

Personally, when I reflect on what I know and what I don’t know, I don’t particularly care to contemplate whether something is “real” or not. I think, “Fundamentally, could I answer that question?” Unequivocally I answer, “No;” I understand my current perception sees only part of the big picture. What I can say for certain is whether I find something helpful or not. I invite you to ask yourself the same question, “How could energy work be helpful for me in learning about myself and how I experience the world?” This is a much more fruitful journey!

Your practice this week: Call up an energy worker in your area or drop them an email; and find out how they’ve found energy work to be helpful for folks. You might be surprised by the answers you get! Want to share your story? Leave a reply in the comments here!