Definitions, energy work, Uncategorized

What Are Energy Work Practices?

Author and inventor Dr. Lin Yutang wrote in his 1937 bestseller, The Importance of Living, “…[A]ll human happiness is sensuous happiness”(125).  He goes on to explain our capacity for enjoying the “positive joys of life” is inextricably tied to increased sensibility of our senses, and our full use of them.

To illustrate his point, Dr. Lin lists Chin’s Thirty-Three Happy Moments, suggesting that “the truly happy moments of human life [are those] moments in which the spirit is inextricably tied up with the senses”(130). You’re probably not surprised that I agree! (Why else would I start my post with this?)

Energy Work is Mundane Work

People often confuse energy work with something ‘beyond’ the ordinary, human experience. Or people think it’s something to ‘attain,’ or something mystical. Most often people think energy is separate from the body; and therefore consider the physical simply crude, unnecessary material they’re just waiting to shed to get back to the ‘good stuff.’

But, while energy permeates and animates physical matter, the physical experiences Spirit’s sublime nature. The physical interprets energy, and affects the world with energy. That’s potent stuff! Without the ability to sense, energy could not know itself. For this reason, while we are in the world, knowing we are not of it affords us a unique opportunity to care for and appreciate our vessel (the physical body), while experiencing Spirit in action.

Can Energywork Be Bodywork? (And Vice Versa?)

When we talk about types of energy work, some practices might fit under the category of bodywork, while others might be considered emotional release techniques, mental concentration practices, or in some cases spiritual or religious practice. At first glance someone with no background in energy work might think, “Hold on a minute, this can’t be right! Isn’t energy work stuff just ‘woo woo,’ waving hands in the air?” (I’m reminded of Christopher Walken’s trivial psychic skit….) No, it’s not. Remember, I defined energy work as any practice that works with our body’s energy; and if you understand that our spirit is inextricably tied to our body sense-experience, you’ll understand energy work in practice may involve the body, mind, and/or emotions.

A Short List of Energy Work Practices

What Are Some Energy Work Practices

There are countless practices that involve energy work I could name in this post today. Nonetheless, I’d like to introduce you to a short list so you can start to see that you’ve likely already been introduced to energy work, and perhaps have even been practicing it already. What makes the energy work a stronger aspect to physical, emotional or mental practice? Intention.

You’ll notice I slipped intention work and affirmations under perceiving energy. (Pretty much all the things on this mind map can be swapped from one side to the other.) I did this intentionally (ha!) as a reminder that sometimes we can learn things about what we really think or feel deep down when we try on a new, positive affirmation or intention. Resistance can crop up saying, “Yea, right! I don’t deserve that!” etc.

My today’s short list includes:

  • Acupuncture
  • Bowenwork
  • Dream work (including interpretation and lucid dreaming)
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
  • ESP (including clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairgustance, clairsentience, claircognizance, and “medical intuition”)
  • Feng Shui
  • Homeopathy (including flower, gem and environmental essences)
  • Intention work (including affirmations)
  • Journeying (including to the Akashic records, Lower World, Middle World, Upper World)
  • Meditation
  • Pranic healing
  • Psychic awareness (including psychometry)
  • Qigong
  • Reiki
  • Rosen Method
  • Shamanism (including soul retrieval)
  • Yoga

Your practice this week:

Reflect on a time in your life when you felt most alive, connected and ‘in the flow.’ How did you feel in your body? How was the state of your mind; and what were the circumstances under which you had this experience?

Has an energy work practice greatly impacted your life or growth? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

Hand energy center: Lao Gong
Acupuncture, Reiki

New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Powers (Article/Study, National Geographic)


While yoga is not a Chinese medicine practice, I found National Geographic’s piece, “New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Powers” interesting in light of what we East Asian Medicine Practitioners know and believe about the body’s acupoints and energy gates. The author cites a recent study, “Impact on Inflammation, Mood, and Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” in which they found poses like the downward-facing dog (see above image) can reduce inflammation in patients fighting cancer.

Physical Benefits of Yoga

While some think yoga is subjectively pleasant and/or helpful, its wonderful to be able to say its effects can also be objectively measured. National Geographic reports, “Blood tests before and after the trial showed that, after three months of yoga practice, all three markers for inflammation [proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β)] were lower by 10 to 15 percent.”

Energetic Benefits of Downward-Facing Dog

If you’ll notice, in the Downward-Facing Dog, a person connects with the ground at the palms and soles of the feet; these locations match to what is considered in Chinese medicine four of the body’s major energy gates. An energy gate is where the strength of the body’s energy, or qi, is regulated. At each palm center, we find the acupoint, Lao Gong (“Palace of Toil”); and under the ball of each foot is Yong Quan (“Gushing Spring”). From these points we can draw energy into the body or send energy out of the body. It’s no surprise to me then, that in connecting these energy gates to the earth (as is done in Downward-Facing Dog), individuals naturally release pathogenic energy into the earth for recycling and draw in healing earth energy into their body. Want to be more mindful of this exchange? Imagine breathing in earth energy through your left-hand side, and breathing out stress and inflammation from your right palm and sole.

Want to learn more about using your energy gates? Come join us this March for a 9-week course in Reiki energy work! Deadline for registration, 03/15/14 (limited to 6 students). More at