Why is usefull to know energy and being able to feel it?
Everybody knows that if you eat too much of the wrong food, like kebaps, pizzas and sugary sweets, it has a negative effect on your body and health. Everybody also knows that if you inhale or ingest too much toxic pollution, such as smoke from cigarettes or carbon monoxide from car fumes, it too has a negative effect on your body. What people do not realise is that if you inhale or ingest too much of certain energies from your environemnt, such as the energy of a cold and loveless marriage, an overtly controlling parent or a stressful workplace, that it too has a negative effect on your health and on your body.
These energies are known as subtle energies and your body stores them in the cells in your body just as it stores nutritional energy from food. Certain stored nutritional energy, such as greasy fat from food increases your weight and can block the flow of blood in your arteries. Certain stored subtle energies, such as the emotional energy of anger inflames and hardens the cells in your body, while the energy of loneliness makes the cells in your body go cold and contract.
On the surface this looks like a ‚so what?’ question, but think for a moment: how many times in your yoga practice do you experience unexpected contraction, hardness, heaviness, coldness, weakness or resistance in your body.
These are the physical manifestations of the various subtle energies that your body has been inhaling, ingesting and storing from the moment of your birth. Such conditions have nothing to do with the physical condition of your body, but everything to do with the quality of subtle energy in your body. That is why it is useful to know about energy and to be able to feel its effects during on-going yoga practice.
Could you tell us, what energy feels like?
You cannot tell another person what energy feels like. You have to allow them to discover it for themselves and this is what I do in my ‚Energy and Emotions in Yoga and Massage’ workshops where I invite students to work in pairs to scan with their hands certain areas of each others’ bodies that correspond to the areas known as the chakras. Students then write down their experiences, usng their own words to describe what energy feels like.
Here are some of their descriptions of energy: A tingling sensation in your body, a feeling of electricity running through a part of your body (an energy meridian), a sudden sharp pain from a very small area in your body (an acupuncture point), a surge of coldness coming from deep within your abdomen or from the centre of your chest, pressure in your head, when your breath changes from deep to shallow, chicken skin, when you shiver or shake or spasm, when your foot cramps, when you stand up and your legs feel like blocks of concrete, usw.
The list is endless!
Is there something like good and bad energy?
There is no such thing as good or bad energy. Energy is a neutral force, just like atoms and protons. It is how we judge energy, usually based on the way it makes our body feel, that makes us label certain energies good and others bad. Some energies just happen to make us feel good. They create warmth, softness and lightness in the cells of our body, such as the energy we call love.
Other energies, however, make us feel not so good. They create cold, hardness and heaviness, such as the energy we call loneliness. As humans we tend to want more of the energies that make us feel good, such as love, support, recognition and reward and less of the energies that makes us feel not so good, such as rejection, shame, guilt and fear.
Where energy can turn bad is when we do not get sufficient quantities of the feel-good energies we need and want. Not receiving enough love, support, recognition and reward can cause us to feel angry and can trigger a strong sense of injustice and entitlement which can be expressed in the energies of jealousy, hatred and the need to destroy goodness in others.
These can be said to be bad energies in as much as they can cause widespread damage, not just to the self, but to others too. In my fifteen years’ experience as a Thai massage therapist, most of the so-called bad energies I deal with are a client’s emotional and mental reactions to not getting enough of the feel-good energies, especially love.
How can someone apply this wisdom in yoga and bodywork?
There is a temptation in yoga, as there is in life, to look the other way when things aren’t working out well. Sudden neck pain in headstand? A cold wind blew into the asana room when someone opened the door. I hurt my back in practice? The teacher adjusted me too hard. Hips and knees aren’t opening? I’m not standing correctly, or my hips, knees and feet are not in alignment. Can’t focus? People are coming into the room late and slapping their mats onto the floor. It’s either the room, the students, the asana or the teacher.
Always looking to the external world for answers, but never looking inside, where all the answers reside. After all isn’t that what a large part of yoga is about? Opening. Opening up from the inside. And if you suddenly encounter any pain, stiffness or resistance to opening, then surely the answers lie inside, from within your body, where you have stored the accumulation of your life experiences, both the good ones (warming and opening) and painful ones (contracting, tightening and hardening).
Maybe in February 2015 your hips can’t open in practice, but maybe that is because when you were 6 months old you experienced a cold event at home which caused you to contract all the muscles in your pelvic girdle as an act of defence and now x years later, during a yoga practice which is designed to open you up from the inside, you discover that the muscles surrounding your hips are still in that state of infantile contraction.
A large part of yoga is about revealling and releasing your past, the energies of which are stored in your body and which shape the degree of ease or un-ease you experience in practice.
Could you please share an exercise that our readers can do at home, to train feeling energy?
One of the best self-scanning and self-healing exercises I know is one you can do in bed, preferrably in the morning, when your body is most relaxed.Rub your hands together until they are red hot and place them either side of your navel on your abdomen. Then notice what happens. Just follow the heat. Where it goes. How long it lasts before you have to rub your hands again and replace them. On a good day, the heat from your hands will sink deep into your abdomen, going all the way through to your spine. When it reaches your spine, the heat travels up and down your spine and down the backs of your legs into your feet.
As it does, you will feel soft bumps of hardness or small lumps of coldness along the way. These are energy blockages and if the heat from your hands is strong enough, it will melt the bumps and lumps away. The clearer your body is of energy blockages, the further the heat from your hands will travel. The heat from your hands is energy; heart energy. Use the hot, heart energy in your hands to unblock and heal your body completely. There is no better internal medicine than the energy of your own heart. Don’t worry if the effects are not very strong when you first try this exercise, that’s natural. Your body isn’t used to being healed this way.
If you do this exercise regularly, you will notice how the effect gets slowly stronger and stronger until one day you have healed your body completely.
Robert Henderson has been teaching and practising Thai massage since 2000. He specialises in energy work and spiritual healing through the modailty of Thai massage. His first book on energy work in massage ‚Emotion and Healing in the Energy Body’ is published in June 2015. Based in Vienna, he gives workshops on Energy and Emotions in Yoga and Massage throughout Europe. His website is: www.roberthenderson.info.
Here you can preorder his new book, which will be published 26. June.