On Doubting Energy Work and Why to Try it Anyway
Like many people, I used to think energy work was a lot of baloney. Like many people, I came to energy work as someone who was both deeply suspicious and secretly hopeful about its potential role in my healing. And, like many people, once I started seeing energy workers, I haven’t stopped.
This is how it happened: one year ago, I attended an “Energy Play” workshop at Freed Bodyworks that was led by Richael Faithful, Freed’s Shaman-in-Residence, and Renata Maniaci, who specializes in Healing Touch and Spiritual Response Therapy. I went because I needed help. I had recently quit my job and was trying to redirect my life from the “shoulds” that had been governing it and instead uncover what felt right to me. In truth, I was kind of a mess. But I'll give myself a little credit: I was a mess striving for authenticity!
When the time came for questions from the group, I remember saying to Richael and Renata that I thought it was great they could do this stuff with energy and whatnot, but that I wasn’t sure it would work on me. They responded, “it may benefit you in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. Why don't you try it and see for yourself?”
So I went to a Healing Touch session with Renata. And it was fantastic! Renata helped me be more grounded in that session, and I hadn’t realized how alight and scattered I felt until she re-rooted me. I even cried. At the time, I was so surprised by my reaction that I thought, “damn it! I am not an impenetrable force of ration and logic!” But I later realized that I didn’t want to be an impenetrable force of ration and logic. I wanted to receive all that was being offered, to break open, to be.
Then I went to see Richael for a shamanic healing session. I cried again. Richael offered guidance that led me to rethink how I was processing my grief, and her advice helped me seek critical support that pulled me out of despair. A year later, visits to see Renata and Richael are part of my regular healing and self-love practice.
With how important energy work has been to me, you would have thought I’d have told you sooner. But I put off writing this post, dear readers, because it meant I had to go public about being an avid client of something that is subject to such public skepticism and belittlement. I don’t tell most people in my life about my energy work sessions. When I do, I treat it as a litmus test: can you accept that I benefit from this, even if you think it is malarkey? Can my experience be enough?
I don’t believe that energy work is for everyone. Some degree of openness to wonder and, as Richael would call it, majik with “k,” is necessary to receive all the experience can offer. But my personal experience with energy work has been truly transformative. It has helped me to:
Cultivate trust and a deeper sense of self-knowing. Energy work may not always make sense to me intellectually, but it feels right. It asks me to look to different markers for validity – not my highly socialized, dismissive, analytical brain, but the barometer of my body. The more attuned I’ve become to my body and inner wisdom, the more I realize it’s telling me a lot of things all of the time (such as “go to bed” or “don’t take this job” or “time for another cookie”).
Experience meaningful visions. Sometimes I envision or feel things during the sessions that help me make peace with where I am. It could be in a natural setting, or with a relative, or something I'm holding in my hands. It’s sweet, it’s weird, it’s totally unexpected, but these images often remind me that I have all the tools and support I need to deal with whatever I’m struggling with.
Deepen my connection to myself and others. In our highly individualized Western society, it’s easy to feel adrift. Energy work is old medicine and often comes from an ancestral lineage. Renata and Richael remind me to hold onto the bigger picture, and to know that I am supported in more ways than I can see.
Feel an expanded sense of quiet and stillness. In these sessions, I’m often lying down silently for upwards of an hour. This on its own is a delightful pause that puts everything back into focus. I get up feeling like I’ve napped, but without all the lethargy or bed head!
Get comfy with doubt. It’s not that the more I experience energy work, the more I am certain it is real. There is no such thing as certainty, and what energy work offers is the chance to feel more grounded in and present with – and less terrified of – the realm of doubt. Because every day is doubt, dear readers. We can’t know what’s coming, but we can trust ourselves to show up for it, whatever form it takes.
The truth is that I still don’t know if it's "real." It’s a question that plagued me for first couple months, and sometimes it still comes up, usually when I’m on the table and Renata is moving her hands over my temples or Richael is shaking a rattle, and I’m thinking, “what the heck am I doing here?” But the experience of receiving energy healing always quiets my skepticism: each session is so powerful for me that by the end I know what I’m doing here.
Ultimately, the question of “is this real?” has become less interesting to me. Over time it has been replaced by “is this beneficial?” As long as the answer is “yes,” I keep going.
And Richael and Renata were right...energy work continues to benefit me in ways that are not immediately apparent. All I had to do was try it.