icon: "ethereal (a photo of me looking at the camera from behind a lacy green plant, while wearing makeup that includes a glitter goatee)"
What do I think is happening when I do energy work? I think that people's electric fields get dirty and hungry just like bodies, but since people don't often think about them or practice tuning in, they get neglected a lot. I think that what I am doing is using my energy field to interact with theirs in a way that clears it and pulls in nourishment for them. I think that it's really pretty simple and small, but just like a snack can totally change your outlook if you really need it, or pulling a splinter out can provide huge relief, it can feel really intense. I don't think that anyone needs energy work from another person (except maybe in rare circumstances) because your subconscious is pretty good about pushing you toward things that your energetic self needs. It's just a help.
Before I ever deliberately practiced interacting with energy, I prayed and practiced "laying on of hands" which is christian-speak for energy work. I remember the first time was when I was maybe 6 or 7, and the pastor had me stand on the stage at the front of the church and put my hands on the head of a middle-aged man who stood below. I asked what I was supposed to be doing and the pastor said "just pray for God to help him." I was devout from the age of four so this was not uncomfortable or difficult for me. I prayed, and after a little while the man fell over. I was used to people being 'slain in the spirit' but I felt very surprised that my prayer could have such an effect.
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Later when I was about 9 or 10, I was babysitting (as a "mother's helper") for a three year old when the pregnant mother started having pains. They were really worried while waiting for a ride to the hospital and I asked if I could put my hands on their belly and pray for them. They eagerly said yes, so I did, and it calmed them and helped them to feel better. Then they went to the hospital, and everything was okay after (no one told me any details). They later thanked me effusively. It might have just been that my faith was calming in a moment of panic, but their reaction made me feel like I did something profound.
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The next time I remember affecting someone was when I was maybe 21 and my mom's back was hurting, and I rubbed it. Afterward they asked me if I had used a hotpack or something because they were feeling so much heat out of my hands. A few years after that I was at a free energy healing and someone passed their hands in front of me and so much heat was radiating from their hands that I thought they were holding a candle up next to my face. I opened my eyes, prepared to stop them from waving open flame at me, but their hands were empty. I was still feeling just as much heat from them so I know it wasn't some kind of trick. Since then I felt sure that energy could be shifted in a physical way by thought alone.
I definitely have felt physical sensations in my hands when doing energy work, especially with migraines. They feel like really intense static most of the time, like a constant yet inaudible screeching. I feel like these are more workable than most physical ailments because they have possibly an electrical cause? I dunno, it might just be that I try to help with migraines more than other physical ailments because since nothing else will work, might as well try. I did have one experience with Abby where they started to have a migraine and were losing vision and I did energy work and stopped the migraine (either stopped it from getting worse or put it to the 'hangover' stage, I don't remember). They said that usually once they start to lose vision even their meds don't help, but this did. I was really glad to be able to do that. When Topaz has a migraine, I can sometimes help, but it varies. They described it thus: a migraine is usually like an exposed and splintered broken bone where someone is jabbing at the wound with a finger. I can't help with the broken bone, but I can stop the person from jabbing at it. Topaz says that usually they just feel relief while I am actively working but sometimes it lasts after. Sometimes when they have just a regular headache I can make it go away completely during, and feel somewhat better after.
The most pronounced physical sensation I ever experienced was when I was doing energy work unintentionally on someone with MS. They had asked me for a massage to help with their chronic pain and explained how to do it (in a way that I would now clearly envision as energy work): I was to do light sweeping rubs all over, in a direction from the outer limbs to the heart. I wish I could remember more specifically. Anyway, it was the second time I was doing it and my ears started ringing, I got intense vertigo and felt weak and I had to go lay down on the floor for like 15 minutes, while my head wouldn't stop spinning. I felt very bad about it but even though I tried to push through I just couldn't. I only recently learned (or remembered) that vertigo and physical weakness are symptoms of MS -- I think I was probably tapping in to their experience without realizing. All I knew was that it was kind of scary and I must have made some kind of mistake. This was before I had ever practiced shielding.
I used to have such a problem with picking up other people's energy that going out in public was hellishly draining. I went to a "woman's healing" group for survivors of sexual abuse and one of the things they taught us was how to not pick up other people's burdens. They emphasized that we couldn't help others by taking on their pain. Instead, they said that we should put up shields and if we wanted to help someone and that person wanted our help, act as a facilitator to let 'God' take their burden. I felt such a huge difference when I began to shield against the randomly broadcast emotions of others: I could go out in public without coming home feeling raw and wretched. Also, when I practiced being a funnel for Godde's love I could help others without making myself useless for days. Later (last year) I took a class on energy work and they said the same things in different words, affirming my experience.
I almost always do energy gifting/blessing as a funnel from the universe or from the person's own deity if they have one who wants to give to them at the time. When I do energy work on people, it's mostly me sensing where something has attached to their energy that is hurting/blocking them or sensing where they feel a lack, and then pulling out what doesn't belong or calling for what they need and sending it in. All of this is happening not with my eyes but with my hands - sort of. I use gestures because that helps me to focus my intention, but I don't often have a physical sensation in my hands unless the issue is something malignant or physical. I feel safe just feeling around and going by intuition because I don't think people can be damaged from energy work as long as the worker isn't trying to assert their own will.*
I consider it a very bad idea to try and give away my own energy. I consider doing that to be damaging myself and probably influencing the other person in ways I can't fathom. One of my early healing processes was pulling back the pieces of myself that had been given away or stolen by others, and it astonished me how much more control I had over my own thoughts and feelings without these constant influences from others. Considering this, I feel that it would be unethical of me to accept other people's energy if I feel that them giving it would damage them. So, if someone uses a method of energy work or prayer that involves them giving a piece of themselves, I am not okay with them doing energy work on my behalf.
Also, if someone wants something from me that I'm not wanting to give right now, I am not okay with them doing ANY kind of energy work or prayer on/about me, because I feel it's very likely that they'd end up subconsciously trying to manipulate me. I don't think it would work because I shield from that, but it would take energy from me to push that away. I got a birthday card from a relative once that seemed harmless enough, but just touching it made me feel terrible, and I think it's because they were trying to pray the gay away.
*I do my best to only do energy work that is NOT manipulative. What this means in practice is that I won't do energy work or prayer that involves choosing a particular path to a goal or anything that involves pushing someone toward a specific choice. For example, I consider it okay to do a spell for getting closer friends, but not okay to do a spell for a particular person to become a close friend. It's okay to do a spell for my work to be noticed, but not to do a spell for my boss to think that I am smart. I will do spells for anything that could happen by chance. I will not do spells that push on someone's will. I feel that a lot of magic is about chance, randomness, so I will always be vague enough that there are at LEAST three ways a 'yes' could happen.
Recently I asked who would want to be a name in a jar for me to occasionally send energy to, but I didn't explain. Here's how that would work:
I would sit in my sanctuary and pull a circle from the jar, read the name aloud a number of times while picturing the person, and then I would reflect on what I know about them and 'ask' what they need (or go check my list to see what they had said was okay to send to them). Whatever came to mind, I would envision coming their way. So, if I got the sense that they needed rest, I would picture them sighing in relief and relaxation and I would come up with a short phrase to repeat over and over while thinking about them, something like "all chances for rest are extra nourishing." (I would NOT say something like "plenty of sleep and plenty of down time" because that might be the opposite of what they need!) I'd then open up my crown and pull in energy from the universe which I would envision flowing into me, out of my hands, to them. I'd do this until I felt done.