Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it: Energy 101

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Auras on the beach

“I don’t think I’ll go tomorrow. I’m not sure I can bear it. It sounds like exactly the sort of thing that’ll be full of people who annoy me.”

“Why do you want to go at all?”

“I’m curious.”

The workshop is question was “Energy 101 —Join us in this 2 day experiential workshop to explore everything you want to know about your energy, including identifying, shielding, grounding and running energy. Use this knowledge in your daily life to support your life force and maintain vitality!”

What is energy?

Energy is a word you hear a lot in Ubud. I’ve even been known to use it myself — “That party had an awful energy”, “I love the energy of festivals”, ‘I found the energy of London too much”. I say those words, but what do they mean?

In Ubud, energy is connected with crystals, incense, and sacred geometry. It’s the energy that had Phoebe in Friends picking at Chandler’s aura, trying to clear its mess. It’s the type of thing that’s easily dismissed as hooky and nonsensical — the realm of cults and pseudoscience. And it’s the type of thing I imagined may attract a bunch of eager-to-believe people that I would find somewhat challenging.

Steve's aura

It’s not so much that I think this stuff is nonsense. I don’t think that. I simply don’t know, and when I come across anyone who claims to know anything for sure, it makes me uneasy. On one hand, I speculate at their delusion, and on the other I question “Am I just too closed to see this?”. That’s certainly what people have had me believe in the past. “You didn’t feel that?, You must be blocked. You need to let go and trust” — words often accompanied by a sympathetic look. Like I said, challenging.

This attitude had repelled me in the past, leaving me with preconceptions of the validity of energy and all its associates without actually knowing what I was judging. It was time to find out.

Into the inner fray

So off I went to Energy 101, ready for sympathetic looks and a sense of dismay or perhaps inadequacy. I was met with neither, and while it’d be neat to say I’m now a covert, or that it was indeed nonsense, I don’t think either is true.

Throughout the two days, we covered the basics of energy – what it is, how to be in touch with your energy and that of others, and how to protect yourself.

Energy 101 poster

The teacher had a manner that was reassuringly grounded, rather than the flightiness I had feared, and my fellow students were a mixed bunch, some more skeptical than others, with one thing in common – we were all curious.

We were given exercises to try and sense our own energy field, tips on how to ground ourselves and recharge, tools for how to clear bad energy or shield ourselves from it, and pointers on energetic stressors.

Scepticism

Throughout it all, my mind was ever sceptical. We moved our hands rapidly and tried to feel an energy ball. “Isn’t this just thermal energy? What does that have to do with emotion? What does science have to say about this? Sshhh, just go with it for now”.

Victoria's aura

Burn sage, pray to St.Michael, put organite near your computer, sacred geometry on your walls. It sounded so appealing – this opportunity for protection  – but “where’s the proof?” cried part of my mind.

The power of intention

If this had been my only take-away, I’d have left no better off, but something else caught my attention. With every instruction we were given, intention was emphasized as the most important element. You can pray all you like, but without intention it’ll get you nowhere. Now this is something I can relate to. I have experienced for myself the power of mind. If I start to come down with a cold but I have an important deadline, I can stave off the cold until the deadline passes and the virus arrives with full vengeance. I’ve seen the same with countless others.

I started to think that all these accouterments may be akin to the placebo effect – props for the mind to latch onto and use to focus its powers. And could those powers/intentions be the energy our teacher talked of? Again, I don’t know. Perhaps palo santo incense, visualizations and crystals have their own unique magical powers, but for where I’m at now, it’s the intention they are imbued with that makes most sense to me.

Old lessons come to light

The power of human intention is something I have faith in. At 13, I was dragged to Lourdes on a pilgrimage with my parents. The local church decided that it might do us good, and perhaps help my Mum’s MS and Dad’s alcoholism. I was appalled – I wasn’t religious, and going on a pilgrimage was way down my list of fun summer activities. But in spite of myself, I had a great time. We went with a group of 800 and I met friends I still know now. In fact, Mum and I went every year up until she died.

Lourdes
I don’t have any photos of Lourdes with me, so thank you to jamesvip on Flickr for this one.

Throughout those years, I struggled at times with the Catholicism – a religion I don’t relate to – but one thing was undeniable, Lourdes is a special place with a powerful energy. I pondered that energy and came to my own conclusion. Nearly everyone who goes to Lourdes goes with good intention – perhaps hope that they’ll be healed, or with the aim to purely help. Out of the 800 people I went with each year, half were helpers – people who had given up their holiday time to help sick and disabled people have a vacation. The hope, compassion and gratitude can be felt, and it combined to create a place that, to this day, holds one of the most magical feelings I’ve ever known.

The image of Lourdes came to me during Energy 101, and I shared my experience with the group. Suddenly, the word energy made sense to me. It’s not some ‘out there’ concept married to the new age. Energy is intention, and you can feel that intention. If you go to a protest and a riot breaks out, you can feel the anger. If you go to a party and everyone’s on edge waiting for the next hit, you can feel the tension. If someone approaches you with an open heart, you know it. And these intentions affect us. Suspicion begets suspicion, anger begets anger, and a parent’s neurosis can be passed to a child. With awareness of this, we can protect our own intentions, and learn to discern what is ours and what is others’ influence.

It all comes down to language

I believe all this, and while it might not be how you think of energy, or how others do, for now it’s what makes sense to me. It’s the language with which I describe it. Others use the language of religion, psychology, goddesses, chakras, auras… They all have parts I relate to, and parts I don’t, but to me nothing can ever be strictly right or wrong when it comes to such subtleties. Everyone has a different experience of and view of the world. What language can fully embody that?

Crowd of auras

I left Energy 101 far less sceptical than when I arrived, but not blindly accepting either. It’s not a language I fully understand or accept. I don’t know if a Q-link necklace will ward off negative energy, or if people can see the colour of your aura, but I do believe that our own energy/intention has an effect on that of others. I don’t know if music can change the structure of water, or if imagining a ball of light around you will help protect you on the subway, but I do believe that checking in with yourself each morning is a great way to become more aware of yourself and your own intentions. And I do believe that we can strengthen/recharge our good energy and intentions by doing things that we love.

The next step is to go to an energy healing. Let’s see how that goes in the next chapter of this ‘Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it’ series.

Energy 101 info

I did the Energy 101 workshop at The Yoga Barn with Jana Johnson and Tamara Brown. It cost 800,000 rupiah (about £50) for two mornings.

23 thoughts on “Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it: Energy 101”

    • Excellent. That was the desired reaction! 🙂 I’m trying my best to leave what doesn’t work for me behind, although sometimes I still question if I’m missing something!

  1. Can totally relate!! I had a really similar experience in India, politely smiling at all the hippy dippies, until I did a 10-day Buddhist / meditation retreat that let me see the importance of intention as you say. Take what you need and leave the crystals if you think they’re silly. 😉

    • Was that a Vipassana? I’d love to do one of them.

      I’m not sure where I stand on crystals, apart from thinking they’re pretty!

  2. Your frame of mind is exactly the same as mine, (although it’s taken me a lot longer to verablize it). It’s been a curiosity for many years that I abhor most organized religions, and yet at many a religious event I’ve experienced this feeling of energy. I only identified as something like “intent” recently. More or less this Eastertime in fact. It’s the collective energy for good I think. That said there are folk, like Hitler, say, who knew how to use and manipulate it. Energy that is, because I think there can be a collective energy for evil too. Fascinating post. Just great.

    • Thanks Linda. I’m so pleased this resonated with you. All of this is such a puzzle with infinite solutions so it’s lovely to hear from someone on a similar page.

  3. I meant to add, and this isn’t something I’ve told more than a couple of people before, because I realize how fanciful it might sound, that I’ve seen my aura – twice. Once, I admit, I was high, but the second time, not. I was in a very emotional and tired state, but not under the influence of anything else.

  4. Lovely first read of the series! I’m pretty similar to you there. I think that many of these whiffy sort of new age concepts are in fact deeply natural to us all, but that they get muddied up in the terminology being used. “Energy” might seem a bit strange as a concept, but we’ve all gone places where there are off “vibes” in the air, and recognized that. It’s our intention, as you say. Looking forward to the next one!

  5. Hi Victoria! Can’t find a private way to message you? I’m in Ubud til Wednesday if you’d like to meet up, maybe grab a coffee or something. I’ve been following your blog for a while so it would be cool to meet you in person and feel like less of an online stalker! Haha. Email is probably the best way to message me, so let me know if you’re free! 🙂 -Kaleena

  6. Wow, I really enjoyed this post 🙂 I also have a tendency to be fairly sceptical of certain things, but I really liked the idea that you can understand energy as being intention. For me at least, it makes it seem a lot more tangible, and therefore easier for me to connect with and take on board.
    I’m also really liking this series of blog posts – especially because you seem to be doing it really objectively, not going in in full sceptic-mode, but not just accepting claims blindly either. I quite like the notion that you can learn something from different experiences/belief systems even if you don’t personally identify with every aspect of it.

    • Thank you Rosemary. You made my day with your lovely comments. That is exactly my intention with the series. I’m so pleased you’re enjoying it.

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