July 13th 2017 – As an energy work master instructor, I’m often asked by students how they can protect themselves from someone’s ‘bad’ energy. This inevitably leads to a discussion of the concept of energy as it relates to the human body, and the phenomenon of resonance within the practice of energy work.
Inherent in that classroom question are several ideas: 1) The body comprises energy as well as matter, 2) energy can somehow be ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ 3) energy can transfer from one person to another, and 4) one has to protect against the transfer of energy from person to person.
Let’s look at these concepts one by one, beginning with the idea that the body is composed of energy as well as physical substance such as bones, organs, blood, etc.
THE BODY ELECTRIC
The theory that there is energy moving through and animating the physicality of the body is the foundation of many healthcare modalities with a history of well-defined, long-standing respect and success. Acupuncture and Shiatsu are two examples of such modalities. Both disciplines address energy blockage within the physical body that, in turn, can lead to physical discomfort.
Beyond these ancient healthcare modalities, there are also doctors and researchers who have written about the body as a vessel through which energy flows. On page 5 of his book Vibrational Medicine for the 21st Century, Richard Gerber, M.D. writes: “According to the new perspective of Einsteinian and quantum physics, the biochemical molecules that make up the physical body are actually a form of vibrating energy.”
Researcher, cellular biologist and physiologist, James L. Oschman, PhD, takes this concept of energy flow within the body a step further, calling it ‘biological electricity.’ On page 42 of his book Energy Medicine, The Scientific Basis, he talks about the bio-electricity of the body, specifically, the potential of charged ions to produce electricity that facilitates the conduction of nerve impulses: “Biological electricity is a large scale phenomenon arising from the movement of charged ions such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. In virtually all cases, the electricity arises because of the large electrical polarity across cell membranes, and the ability of these membranes to temporarily depolarize and then repolarize. This is the process that enables nerves to conduct signals from place to place within the body.”
So, whether you come from a more intuitive, spiritual approach to the idea of energy, or a pragmatic, scientific one, there is ample documentation of its existence within the human body, and evidence indicating the movement of this energy carries an electrical charge which initiates biological processes.
The next idea inherent in that classroom question is whether someone’s energy can be ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
THE NATURE OF ENERGY
Energy has positive (+), negative (-) or neutral (0) charge. It also has frequency. Merriam Webster defines frequency as the number of complete oscillations, per second, of energy in the form of waves. That means energy moves in waves and the timing of those waves can fluctuate, creating a specific frequency.
If energy is composed of electrical charge and frequency, then the idea of energy being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ has to be re-evaluated. In this case, attaching the descriptor of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to energy is an attempt to characterize it. Yet energy has no character, only positive, negative or neutral charge and frequency. So, when we say someone has ‘good’ or ‘bad’ energy, we are describing how we feel in response to coming into contact with the frequency of energy that is moving through that person.
If the person in question is experiencing anger, and we are not comfortable with the energy frequency of anger, then we might characterize that person’s energy as ‘bad.’ Conversely, if someone is experiencing joy, and we are comfortable with the energy frequency of joy, then we might characterize that person’s energy as ‘good.’
Inherent in either characterization is the value judgment that inevitably accompanies something being ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ The act of judging either separates or aligns, and neither stance is helpful in the practice of energy work. Best practices include maintaining a neutral stance through simple observation, and refraining from value judgments about what is observed. This practice removes the obstacles which judging creates and allows energy to flow more freely.
ENERGY MOVEMENT AND RESONANCE
The third idea contained within that original classroom question is: energy can transfer from one person to another.
To respond to this idea, I invite you to consider the concept of resonance. According to Miriam Webster, resonance is a sound or vibration produced in one object that is caused by the sound or vibration produced in another.
For example, imagine a tuning fork that is struck and placed next to a second tuning fork. This second fork remains untouched, but is calibrated to the same frequency of the tuning fork that has been struck. Within the strong vibration emitted from the active tuning fork, the untouched fork will begin to reverberate, producing a sound as though it has been struck. It is responding to energy movement, in the form of sound waves, being produced by the fork that has been activated. This reverberation is a phenomenon called resonance.
So, what does this have to do with the idea that energy can transfer from one person to another?
The bio-electric nature of our bodies makes them similar to tuning forks. Stemming from the most basic cellular level to the quicksilver of our thoughts, every process taking place within the human body carries a bio-electric charge and specific frequency.
This includes the experience of feeling emotion; like all processes within the body, having a feeling response produces a vibrational frequency. As the electrical charge of emotional activity occurs within one body, the reverberation of that energy movement can be experienced or felt by another body in close proximity.
James Oschman talks about bio-electric activity extending from the physical body into the surrounding field of energy: “Not only does every event in the body, either normal or pathological, produce electrical changes, it also produces alterations of the magnetic fields in the spaces around the body.” Energy Medicine, The Scientific Basis, page 18.
So, every process within the body produces bio-electric activity, including the experience of emotions. And what occurs within the body also produces changes in the field of energy surrounding the body. Therefore, when we experience a strong feeling response within our bodies, whether that is anger, joy, grief or some other emotion, the accompanying electrical change is palpable within our human energy field.
If we are in close proximity to someone experiencing strong emotion, it is possible to discern the emanation of that energy. Consider when we are in close contact with someone who is exuberant or joyful. In response, we may also feel uplifted. In other words, we enter into resonance with the energy state of another.
We might even say the person’s emotional state is ‘infectious.’ This is another way of describing that we can be physically affected by the movement of energy; so much so that we experience a reverberation of that energy within our own bodies. Our bodies become like that second tuning fork, which, though untouched, begins to vibrate in tune with the active fork.
So, rather than energy transferring from person to person, it might be more accurate to say that we come temporarily into energetic resonance with one another. Looking through this more neutral lens of resonance relieves energy work practitioners of the idea that someone else’s energy can somehow transfer to them and have a permanent effect.
This also begins to answer the fourth idea inherent in that classroom question: that one has to protect against the transfer of energy from person to person. To further respond to this idea, let’s look at resonance and the anatomy of an energy work session.
RESONANCE WITHIN AN ENERGY WORK SESSION
The focus of an energy work session is to facilitate the movement of energy. No matter the modality, the techniques introduced all have this as the primary goal, for when energy is in motion, health is the result. Conversely, when energy stagnates, discomfort and dis-ease are the result.
Specific techniques, our presence and intention are the tools used to facilitate energy movement. Through these tools the body is offered the support and direction it needs to return to balance.
As equilibrium returns, held energy can be released. Within the process of that release, the client can experience transitory resonance with the releasing energy. For instance, if the energy of an old heartache is resolving, as that energy is moving up and out, the client might experience short-lived tears or a somatic feeling of heartache.
Conversely, if the extremity of a very exuberant experience, such as falling in love, is coming into balance, the client may experience ecstatic tears of joy or a somatic feeling of being full-hearted. These physical side-effects of resonance are usually short-lived. As the held energy is allowed to move, physical discomfort resolves organically without the need for additional techniques.
As the client experiences the release of held energy, the practitioner may also come into resonance with the particular frequency being emitted. For instance, if the client is releasing the energy of strong heartache, the practitioner may temporarily reverberate with that energy and experience a feeling of sadness. If the energy of joy is being emitted, the practitioner may experience feeling happy or high-spirited. In each case, the practitioner’s body becomes like that second tuning fork, which, though untouched, begins to reverberate with the energy being released from the active fork.
RESONANCE WITHIN THE CLASSROOM SETTING
Within an energy work classroom setting, where many people are giving and receiving, all focused on the same techniques, the experience of resonance is more probable. In this setting, coming into resonance with each other happens more easily due to the common focus, intention and practice.
Picture each person in the room as a tuning fork, all calibrated to the same frequency. When one person begins to have a strong experience of energy releasing, it is possible for many people in the room, both receiving and giving, to temporarily reverberate with that release.
Being in resonance with energy releasing during a session can also act to shake loose similar energetic dissonance (held energy patterns) within the practitioner. This experience may be transitory for the practitioner, or can continue beyond the close of the session.
A hallmark of continued resonance is prolonged reverberation with the energy released by a client long after the session is complete. For instance, if the client released the energy of heartache during the session and the practitioner feels heavy-hearted or sad for an extended time after the session is finished, this is an example of continued resonance.
This kind of response can be a sign that the practitioner has unresolved energy similar to that which was released by the client during the session. In this case, perhaps the practitioner has experienced heart-ache that was not completely resolved. Like the untouched tuning fork, that stored energy within the practitioner begins to reverberate with the strong energy released by the client. The reverberation may continue for the practitioner until closure is achieved through self care techniques designed to assist the triggered energy to continue to move.
Looking through this more neutral lens of resonance allows practitioners to see personal after-effects as an opportunity to take responsibility for their own experience through self care or receiving an energy work session from another practitioner. It also dissipates the fear and judgment at the heart of feeling the need to protect oneself.
The body is a miraculous bioelectric medium, transmitting multitudes of impulses across organ and endocrine systems every second. Nerves fire, blood flows, the heart beats, muscles expand and contract, food moves through the digestion process, and so much more. Energy movement is a vital element of when, where and how these bioelectric transmissions occur. Ultimately, without energy moving through the physical body, there would be no life.
Where there is life, energy is flowing. Yet it is also possible for the flow of energy to stagnate within the physical body. This inactivity can occur as the result of injury, illness, trauma, or prolonged stress, and lead to repeating patterns of tension that cause discomfort and unease.
Energy that has slowed or ceased to move freely can be offered the opportunity to release, either through energy work or body work. When stagnant energy is freed to move, its discharge carries a vibrational frequency which can be palpable to both the person releasing it and the practitioner facilitating that release.
Due to the bioelectric nature of the human body, both client and practitioner can resound with the releasing energy, temporarily experiencing a reverberation of it within their bodies. If resonance with the release continues well beyond the initial event for either client or practitioner, it is a signal that follow-up work can be beneficial in facilitating closure.
So, movement is the bottom line where energy is concerned. Given the opportunity, energy will move. How we are in relationship with the event of energy moving determines our perception and experience of that release. If we can remain neutral, refraining from judgment, aligning with or protecting against the event of that movement, energy has a greater probability of fully releasing, inviting the body to return to physical, emotional, and mental equilibrium.
Sound simple? If not, continued observation of the miracle of energy movement offers ample opportunity to experiment and experience results. Whether you are a practitioner of energy work, or simply interested in the body as a transformer of energy, if you find this article has sparked your interest, I invite you to explore training as you continue on your healing journey.
Hallie Sawyers is licensed in massage in New York and Connecticut, and nationally certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork since 1996. She is a traditionally trained Usui Reiki Master Teacher, Master Instructor of Integrated Energy Therapy, and certified in both Polarity Therapy and reflexology. She is also nationally certified in Holistic Aromatherapy, has been studying advanced clinical aromatherapy since 2005. For more information on this topic as well as classes, lectures and individual appointments, please visit www.soulsong.abmp.com.
Hallie Sawyers, LMT APP BCTMB
Unless otherwise specified, the information in this article comes directly from many years of practice and instruction in both energy work and body work.