Understanding how to sense your energy and move it may be one of the most practical and most important psychospiritual tools that you can learn. By learning to "see" the movement of energy around you, your ability to navigate your life, and the world, will drastically increase. Just like Neo in "The Matrix," you'll begin to see the invisible forces that shift, maintain, and define our world. What is energy?
When we get angry, we feel "red" energy buzzing in our bodies. When we're happy, it may feel like a bubbly, joyous energy. Places can have energies, too. The energy of a corporate office feels different than that of a grassy field. Morning has a different energy than evening. New Year's Eve has a different energy than election day. This isn't the energy of physics but rather psychospiritual energy. In spiritual and New Age circles, people talk about energy as if it is something supernatural—as if it's some mysterious force that exists beyond the laws of physics. "Energy" appears to lie outside the laws of physics because it has nothing to do with physics: it is psychosomatic, which means it exists and moves through the human mind and body. When we are unconscious of the deeper regions of our psyche and the signals our body is picking up on from our environment, we don't understand where these energetic experiences are coming from and may interpret them as supernatural. When you walk into a warm and festive house party out of the cold, you feel the energy shift immediately. And it's contagious. Being able to sense these psychosomatic energies in yourself as well as the world around you is the first step to understanding how to move and shift these energies. Knowing how to move energies, within yourself or a group, is a hidden key to psychological health, spiritual mastery, social charisma and leadership, as well as personal happiness and emotional wellbeing. How to Sense Your Energy: Energy Checks To get better at sensing your own energy, start doing "energy checks" once an hour, or a few times a day. Pause what you're doing and ask: "What does my energy feel like right now?" It might feel like a shape in your body. It might have a color. Is it moving, like a stream or wind? Or is it standing still, like stagnant water or stale air? It may even feel solid and heavy like cement. When we have a lot of energy moving through us, like when we are excited, we might feel it like an electric current running through our bodies. If we're "in our heads," it may feel a pressure in the forehead, a "floating head" feeling, or even a roiling storm cloud in the brain. A visual metaphor I like to use to think about energies is a color-picker like the one below: The different energies we can feel can be thought of as colors on the spectrum. The saturation bar on the right, which controls how vivid a color appears, is like the intensity of the energy: how much of this energy is "flowing" right now? When the intensity is low, we feel like we, and the world around us, is lacking in color. We may feel emotions, but they are muted. Or we may feel little to nothing at all. When the intensity is high, we feel as though we are bursting with color, emotions come easily and we can flow between different states. What we don't want to happen with energy is to have it trapped in some part of the body, not flowing, and not changing color. What we do want is to feel it throughout our body, flowing steadily, and changing color according to the situation. How to shift your energy If you do an energy check and notice your energy is stuck in one place and not flowing, you can usually shift it. To get it moving again, there are several things you can do: 1. Breathe — Use your breath to move the energy. Sigh. You'll immediately feel a small shift in energy. Deepen your breath. Often, that feeling of having "stagnant air" inside us comes from not breathing enough. Open some windows and get some fresh air circulating. Or even better, go for a walk or a run to really get the air moving. 2. Move the Body — Energies are psychosomatic, meaning the body has a lot to do with our energetic state. When we go out for a walk to "clear our heads" we're moving energy. If you're feeling stuck, put on some music and do a little dance for 20-30 seconds, that usually loosens things up. Moving energy in the body goes much deeper than this, but these are easy and immediate ways to shift your energy. 3. Change who you're around — Energy is contagious. The energy of other people affects us in countless ways, some obvious, some subtle. If you've been around other people for a while, try to get some time alone, preferably in nature or a wide open space, like a rooftop. If you've been alone for a while, go out and talk to someone (preferably someone you like) and catch up, connect, and share a laugh. Even if it's just talking with your cat. 4. Ask parts to step back — For those familiar with parts work (IFS), we can ask whatever parts are blended in to step back and if they are willing to do so that usually shifts our energy pretty quickly, allowing more Self to embody and more Self-energy to run through you. There are many other ways to shift energy, including visualization, sayings or "mantras," meditation, and many more. Many spiritual techniques work by helping us move and shift our energy. And any of these can be turned into a spiritual practice. Deeper Energy Blocks When we have energy stuck at a deeper level, sometimes breathing, walking, and talking to friends isn't going to cut it. For example, if we suffer a loss of a close friend or loved one, the energy of grief needs to move through us or else it will get stuck inside. Sometimes we hold onto this grief as a way of "never forgetting" the person we loved. It may feel like a betrayal, or an abandonment to do so. As a result, the energy of grief doesn't move through us to get processed and released. Instead, it becomes trapped in our body-mind and begins to affect our mood, thought patterns, and outlook on the world. Trauma is an extreme form of stuck energy. After a traumatic event the body-mind seizes that life-threatening energy and holds onto it in the body. This is a form of protection that the body-mind uses to warn us to never, ever repeat the pattern of behavior that led to this life-threatening outcome. These energies are stuck at much deeper levels. While breathing and doing a dance are effective at shifting our mood and keeping us active, alert, and in the present moment, deeper energy shifts require more powerful inner work. This includes therapy, bioenergetic work, parts work/IFS, Jungian therapy, psychedelics, MDMA, community connection and support, retreats, play-therapy, dance therapy, and appropriate spiritual and religious practices, among others. Charisma, Leadership, Group Energy After we start to master our own energy states, we can start learning how to sense and shift the energy in a group, a room, and whole organizations. Some people know how to do this intuitively, and they're usually seen as people with "charisma." When someone is charismatic, what we really mean is they are attuned to the energies of themselves and others, and more importantly, can shift these energies. A good leader will have a similar sense of what their group needs and can use this intuitive understanding to attend to the energies in a group and help guide them toward a common goal. The key to this kind of energetic work is to first and foremost have a strong control of your own energy. 1. Check your energy — Is your energy flowing, or shut down? (You want it flowing.) 2. Check the room — Usually called "reading the room," look around and notice the communal energetic atmosphere. 3. Sync — Mirror or "sync" your energy with the energy of the room. When you have mirrored the energy of another person or group you show them that you understand "the state of things" in their body, mind, heart, and surroundings at that moment. 4. Move — Once you have synced with others, and they recognize this synced state, you create a communal energy that connects you. And now you have the ability to shift the communal energy. This last step can be done in many ways. A very simple example of this at work: If you notice someone has their arms crossed, cross your arms too. Then after a few moments, uncross your arms—they will usually uncross them as well. When you are aware of this syncing phenomenon, the central question isn't "what can I make this person do?" but rather, "Where does our (communal) energy need to flow now?" Whether you're out on a date, giving a speech, leading a workshop, guiding a ritual, or defusing an argument, reading the room, syncing with their energy, and sensing where it needs to go next for the benefit of everyone involved is what allows us to merge and flow together. This isn't just a form of communication, it is a process of union. When we are in tune with one another's energies we are, for a time, moving as one being. This can be felt palpably at sports matches, where thousands of people's energies are synced, moving together in tune with the game and each other like a single organism. This syncing is likely what allowed our ancestors to hunt together, work together, build together, live together, dance together, and die together. Where does the energy need to move? That is the question. Magicians and Manipulation Archetypally, working with psychosomatic energy is primarily the role of a "magician." The mature magician senses the energy in a group and helps move it in a way that is beneficial to the group. The shadow magician uses this ability to only benefit themselves. The two-sided shadow of the magician archetype, as Robert Moore and Douglass Gillete described it, is the "manipulator" and the "denying innocent." This manipulation can be done consciously, as in a classic manipulator who knows what he or she is doing. But it can also be done unconsciously when a part of our ego manipulates situations for our benefit while keeping the rest of the ego-parts unaware (or mostly unaware) of the manipulation. If someone were to call out this manipulation, the person may flip to the opposite pole and become the denying innocent one. If the person is low in consciousness, this flip may happen beneath their own awareness, and they may remain righteously steadfast in their own innocence. Love, the Most Powerful Energy The mature magician, unlike the shadow magician, relies on love as the core of his or her work in the world. This is the difference between a popular person who achieves popularity through gossip, social exclusion, and being sought-after for their looks, connections, or power, versus a popular person who achieves popularity by championing and including people, and being honest, loyal, and good-natured. Charisma and leadership that is based on love is healthy and sustainable in a way that manipulative charisma and leadership never is. Manipulation may lead to fast or easy success, but it also leads to social corrosion and in the long-term is a form of self-sabotage that always ends poorly. Leading from a place of love allows for a stable life, with deep-running roots. It is the very juice of life. When the energy we put out into the world is that of love, the people around us soften. Our inner experience becomes healthy and light, and when others feel they are receiving genuine love from us, they feel at ease and at peace and know that you are worthy of their trust, their support, and their own love in return. Watch the energies of those around you. Watch your own energy. Notice what happens when you shift from one to another. Notice how others react. Psychospiritual energy is part of the invisible "matrix" of forces that shapes our world. When we become conscious of it, we can flow with it and help guide it. Let the energy flow through you. Hold onto none of it and you will never get stuck again. This is the essence of spiritual non-attachment. - Daniel