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Treatment Work

Intention and "Doing" Energy Work

I frequently get asked "What do you need to do energy work?" My answer is always the same. You don't "need" hundreds of hours of training, at thousands of dollars of expense, or ritualistic attunements. All you really "need" are three things: (1) suspension of disbelief, (2) entrainment, and (3) working with a heart centered intention. The reason for my answer is that there is a critical distinction between working WITH the body's energy fields and "doing energy work."

There are twelve "paired" meridians, meaning one on each side of the body, (Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium, San Jao (or Triple Warmer), Gall Bladder, and Liver); two single meridians (Governing down the back mid-line and Conception down the front mid-line of the body); and eight Extraordinary or Strange Flow vessels. The meridians themselves are at varying depths within the body, sometimes superficial and sometimes very deep. The twelve paired and two single meridians have specific acupoints associated with them. These acupoints are those spots on the body where the meridian rises from deeper in the body to the surface. The points can be located with electrical testing equipment because there is a difference in electrical conductivity at skin level between the acupoint and the surrounding tissue. The Strange Flows have no specific points of their own, sharing points with the other meridians. Part of the function of the Strange Flows is to transfer energy or Chi from one meridian to another. They are also what link the meridians to the Chakras, making the two seemingly different energy systems a unified whole.

There are many, many different modalities or methods used to physically engage or activate the points and meridians. Some, such as acupuncture, basic acupressure, Jin Shin Jytsu, Jin Shin Do, and Process Acupressure tend to be point specific. Others, such as basic Shiatsu, Zen Shiatsu and Thai Massage, tend to work more with the meridians as a whole through "tracing" or stretching techniques. All of them, however, share in common some form of physical stimulation. Very significant results can be achieved with nothing more than a mechanical, by the book, physical stimulation, whether it is with needles, fingers, feet, cupping, moxabustion, or some other method to tonify or sedate the meridian. All of them also share in common that they are working WITH the body's energy fields and systems.

None of them, however, if done purely mechanically, are in my personal opinion actually doing "energy work" in the truest sense. And I specifically include acupuncture in that statement. Acupuncturists trained in China are taught to actually feel or sense the Chi. MOST (not all, but most) acupuncture programs in the United States ignore this and instead focus on a "by the book" placement of needles. Acupuncturists trained in this fashion also tend to follow treatment protocols where they simply insert the needles in the prescribed locations and then leave their client by themselves for 20 or 30 minutes while they go do something else.

Regardless of how effective this "by the book" physical stimulation might be, it is NOT energy work in the fullest sense, nor is it anywhere near as effective as it could and should be. And since it is nothing more than physical stimulation, you do not need to in any way feel or sense the Chi, ground, center, or anything else. It is purely mechanical: press or rub Point A, get result B. This is why I generally start beginners out with basic acupressure points.

The third commonality as long as you stay at the strictly physical, mechanical, level of just working WITH the energy systems loops back to my opening statement about "needs." At this level, you WILL need to invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to become really proficient with it. You will need to invest the time and money to learn point patterns, releases, drills, and routines to achieve specific desired results. Constipation? Hold or press LI 11. Upper jaw toothache? Hold or press Stomach 2. Lower jaw toothache? Small Intestine 17. Allergies? Liver 3. Asthma? Kidney 1. Specific results require specific points or patterns.

The next step or phase occurs when you develop the ability to actually feel or sense Chi and the other body rhythms. I say feel or sense because everyone has their own way of sensing energy. Most people are kinesthetic, feeling it with their hands. The second most frequent way is seeing colors. Others, however, might detect smells, tastes, textures, hear sounds, or get moving image visuals. There is no right or wrong way to sense energy; there just is. The right way for you is whichever way you happen to do it. My Jin Shin Do class had the full range of "ways." Well in excess of half of us were kinesthetic. Roughly a fourth saw colors. The rest included smells, tastes, sounds and moving pictures in their heads. The kinesthetics were jealous of those who saw colors. Those who saw colors envied the kinesthethics. Both groups thought the rest of the class was strange, to say the least <G>.

Two important things happen at this stage of development. One is feedback and the other is the ability to detect when balance has been achieved. Once you can actually feel or sense the energy in some manner, you can use the changes in that sense of energy to guide you. As an example, if I am doing pain relief work with someone, I can tell on the standard 0-10 pain scale as the pain level drops, from nothing more than the way the sense of energy changes. By always holding two or more points at the same time (either with two hands or multiple fingers of one hand), you can also tell when balance occurs because the energy shifts from being uneven between the two points to either being the same, or simply fading away. This is a huge step up from a simple, by the book, approach that says to "press firmly into Point A for two minutes." Is two minutes enough time? Do you really need five minutes? Is it more than enough? Was the work actually done in thirty seconds? You need to be able to feel the energy to tell the difference.

Another significant benefit at this stage is that it expands your tool chest. Basic acupressure can be done purely mechanically. Polarity, on the other hand, requires that you be able to feel the energy because most of the Polarity release patterns specify "hold for balance." If you can't feel the energy, you have no way of knowing when that balance point is reached.

But we still haven't gotten to really "doing energy work" by my definition. And this is where entrainment, grounding, centering, and intention all come into play. There is much more detail on these subjects on my web site, but in brief, entrainment simply means that the energy fields of the practitioner and client synchronize with each other. This occurs at a very specific brain wave state. There are four brain wave states: Delta (Deep Sleep) at 1-4 Hz, Theta (Light Sleep or Drowsiness) at 4-7 Hz, Alpha (Relaxation or Meditation) at 8-13 Hz, and Beta (Mental Concentration) at 13-40 Hz. Entrainment occurs at the interface between Theta and Alpha, or roughly at 7-9 Hz, and when BOTH the practitioner and client are at this same level or state.

Virtually every bodywork modality starts with some kind of opening hold or technique. First term in massage school, we were taught to stand at the client's left side with the client prone on the table and to place the palm or flat of our right hand over their sacrum and the palm or flat of our left hand at the base of the skull along the occipital ridge. We would then gently "jostle" them with a side to side rocking motion. We were told that this was to "acclimate the client to our touch." Second term, they expanded on it by telling us that the real reason to do this was that it helped engage the client's parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and to trigger the relaxation response. Craniosacral Therapy uses a cranial vault hold to "induce a still point." Other modalities use similar techniques, each with their own stated reasons for doing so.

All of these opening holds or techniques do in fact do exactly what they say they do acclimate to touch, engage the PNS, trigger the relaxation response, induce a still point, or whatever else is claimed for them. But in terms of "energy work," they do something else as well. Combined with grounding and centering, they bring the respective brain wave states into synchronization or entrainment. And you MUST entrain to be able to really start doing "true" energy work. Entrainment is what allows you to engage deeper levels beyond just the physical. Again, there is much more detail on this on my web site, but if you aren't entrained, you can't do things like work off-body. You can't do things with just mental direction or intention.

My bias as a trained and licensed Massage Therapist has caused me at times to comment that whenever I see or hear someone bill or advertise themselves as an "Intuitive Healer," red flags go up in my mind and I say that this just means they are untrained and unlicensed. And let's face facts. There are far too many frauds, hucksters, and scam artists running around loose who give the rest of us a bad name. Having said that, however, I will also say that there ARE legitimate Intuitives capable of absolutely incredible work.

I know, because I have worked with a couple over the last two years who have done things that simply stagger belief. One is a lady in Texas. Here are two stories about her and what she can do. When we were at the Buffalo Conference in 2004, about six of us who all knew her were standing around on the sidewalk in front of the hotel about 10:30 at night. I was working on one them. One of the others took out her cell phone and called the lady in Texas. I could hear every word of the one side of the conversation so I KNOW that nothing was said in Buffalo about what I was doing. And the lady in Texas proceeded to relay instructions to me by cell phone in terms of where I should place my hands and even when it was time at one point to go off-body. I saw her in person about three weeks later and asked her about it. Her comment? "Well, I could SEE what you were doing!"

I was at her place for about four days, doing treatment work on her, her husband, and her two sons. At one point, I had her husband get on the table and then had her work on him. This lady has absolutely ZERO training in any of this, yet I witnessed her intuitively place her hands in very precise acupressure or polarity patterns. I KNOW both of these modalities so I instantly knew exactly what she was doing. When she first started, she no sooner put her hands on him when she started crying because "He hurts. He hurts so bad in his low back and legs." She wasn't even touching his back but she could feel his pain. The funny piece of it was when she suddenly reached across his body with her right hand and scratched his leg. I asked her afterwards why she did it and she said "Because it itched." I also saw her do things that are STILL beyond my capabilities and my own "power level" has increased geometrically during the last two years. And she is just one example.

There are two extremes in doing this work, or opposite ends of the spectrum or scale. One is purely physical and mechanical. The other is purely intuitive. And then there is a blending or integration of the two which is even better. My personal trek down this path started with the purely physical. In fact, I was convinced in my own mind for a long time that that was all that was involved. Then things started happening that couldn't be explained by simple physical routines and applications. Today, I know better. There IS another dimension to this work, and of the two extremes, it is by far the more powerful. Things can be done with entrainment, intention, and heart centered focus that simply cannot be done with just physical applications.

You can do good work and get significant results from either end of the spectrum. In one sense, many State Boards of Health mandate heavy actual training in the physical context because they regulate what can or can't be done for hire with the various "touch" modalities. In another sense, I find more and more that the less I actually do, the more that actually happens during a session. Instead of concentrating on the physical routines and release patterns, I find that simply entraining and shifting to an "intention based mind-set" gets results that would not even occur to me had I stopped to think about it.

Just one example on this point. My daughter has suffered from bad headaches for a long time. From a strictly physical application, I would use my standard headache hold of GB 20's and GB 14s. I would get significant pain reduction but could never completely clear her headache. A trace headache would always remain. Then one night, with my hands in the identical position, I simply held to see what would happen. I didn't specifically concentrate on the headache itself. I simply held the position with the intention to help her. And that was the night that we came up with the Emily Rose. I called it that because her head and neck started unwinding all by themselves. She went into gyrations that would have been physically impossible for her to deliberately, consciously do. When we were done, her headache was completely gone. We discovered during that session that the cause of her headaches has been cervical misalignment, particularly at the O-A joint.

But it goes well beyond just this. There is obviously a very strong bond between my daughter and myself, such that our fields easily and quickly entrain. They also do so at a distance. This includes being able to do the Emily Rose on her hands-on, from twenty feet away across the room, or twenty miles away while she was at work and I was at home, on IM with her on the computer. And this is an example of what I mean by "true energy work" versus just working with the energy field in a physical sense.

The one thing I haven't explained yet is what I mean by "suspension of disbelief." When working at the purely physical, mechanical level, you need to neither believe nor disbelieve. Going to the more intuitive end of the spectrum is a different matter altogether. You don't need to actively believe in it, but neither can you actively disbelieve. If you have a strong, conscious, disbelief, that disbelief will set up obstacles and barriers that will block your ability to properly ground and center to allow the necessary entrainment to occur.  

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