Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, December/January 2001.
Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
If you've never felt energy before, this is a good place to start. Rub your hands vigorously and firmly together until some heat is generated. Then, as if you were washing your hands, spread the warmth of this hot qi (energy) over the backs of the hands and the fingers. Close your eyes and allow the hands to soften, the fingers gently together and curved, and allow the palms to face each other some three or four inches apart. Notice any sensation that may exist in your hands. Very slowly, move the palms together and apart, paying attention to the sensations you experience. Continue this oscillation for a few minutes. Change the orientation of your hands and notice the different feelings when your hands mirror each other and when they are slightly rotated as if to clasp together. Notice what happens if you straighten the fingers, making the palm flat and rigid, still continuing the to and fro movement. If the mind becomes too analytical or clouds with skeptical doubt, bring the attention back to what you feel.
Our bodies are constantly sensing and responding to energy fields. In the same way that we develop tactile sensitivity for palpation or that we can develop greater acuity with any of our senses, through practice and awareness we can cultivate a refined sensitivity to energy fields and energy fluctuations. Sensing energy is nothing magical, or even extraordinary. Everything is energy -- some dense, some subtle. If we use this ability to be aware of subtler forms of energy, our skill grows. If we don't use it, it remains an undeveloped potential.
The energy of chakras is relatively easy to feel. Chakras are powerful, concentrated movements of energy which have an almost tangible quality. In "Body Maps: Chakras, A Structural View" (Massage Bodywork, Oct/Nov 2000), I discussed the locations of the seven major chakras and their relationship to spinal curvature and energy flow along the vertical axis of the body. There are also 122 secondary chakras, according to clairvoyant Rosalyn Bruyere1
; the exact number varies depending upon the authority cited, but these minor chakras exist wherever bone touches bone (joints) or at a nerve plexus. The hands contain many of these minor chakras and as such are a fitting tool for sensing energy and for healing.
These "wheels of energy" draw energy to the body from the surrounding environment, inclusive of the energies of other beings, as well as spinning energy outward. Bruyere refers to these two energetic movements as intake chakras and output chakras. Intake chakras are associated with the female, yin, negative polarity, and the tendency to attract and to draw inward. Conversely, output chakras are considered male, yang, positive, and push energy out or through the system. The first, third, fifth, and seventh chakras are output chakras, while the second, fourth, and sixth are intake chakras. Chakras of common polarity automatically interconnect. This relationship can be utilized to support and facilitate change and the processing of information and experience by focusing on the output chakras, or to soothe and calm by connecting the input chakras.
According to Bruyere, the processing of life experience can be viewed as a dialectic of energetic transformation. The strongly yang, male vitality of the root chakra is catalyzed by the yin, emotional character of the second chakra. Sensation and experience, infused with feeling, lead to the mental realm (thoughts, opinions, judgments) of the third chakra, which is androgynous (yang), both male and female. The yin, transformative potential of the heart finds expression with the masculine throat center, culminating in the wisdom and insight of the third eye -- the sixth chakra, which is androgynous (yin). This evolution in experience potentially leads to realization, enlightenment and nonduality. Bruyere suggests "in the seventh chakra we are exogenous; we are out of the system. We are neither male nor female, nor are we androgynous; we are transformed, we are realized, we are complete."2
This provides another set of relationships that can be focused upon in devising a strategy for chakra balancing.
There are numerous ways of connecting chakral energies, supporting them to interact and benefit from each other's qualities. One way is to hold two energy centers, allowing the hands to act as a bridge. In making such a connection, there is no "doing" involved. One is not sending or channeling energy. The bodywork therapist makes this basic contact, providing the avenue for these two energies to meet and to interact. The therapist simply waits, staying present, open and available. One of the most valuable things a bodyworker has to offer a client is non-directed, open attentiveness. Usually it takes about three minutes for this meeting of energies to begin to deeply connect.
A common and intuitive way of ending a bodywork session is to connect the intake chakras. The therapist places one hand on the lower abdomen or second chakra and the other on the sternum, the heart chakra. After several minutes, or when it feels appropriate to move on, the heart hand moves to the forehead, the sixth chakra. Another variation would be to then move the hara (abdomen) hand to the heart and the heart hand to the brow. Such an ending to a session, or this sequence as a mini-treatment on its own, connects emotion, transformation and insight.
Clearing and balancing chakras is another way of working with chakral energies. It is important to understand the spinal chakras as an interconnected system, with a flow from one center to the next. Imbalance anywhere in the chain will affect the entire chain. As a chakra spins, its energies are drawn upward to the next chakra. The root chakra is often likened to the pilot light. If the root chakra's energies are dissipated or closed down, there is little energy to fuel the other chakras. Balancing even one chakra, particularly the weak link, will strengthen and energize the entire system.
The clarity and overall functioning of a chakra can be assessed in several ways. With experience and practice, one develops the "clear seeing" to intuit what is happening with a chakra. Some develop the ability to see, and interpret the color of a chakra. Others may use muscle testing techniques. My own preference is the use of a pendulum. By suspending a crystal, an effective transmitter of energy, over a reclining client's chakra, the spinning energies of the chakra will be amplified in the visible movements of the pendulum. According to Bruyere, "the direction of rotation, shape and diameter of a chakra indicates the state of its energy and the health of the corresponding or adjacent physical organs."3
The movement of the pendulum will correspondingly be clockwise, counterclockwise, circular, elliptical, flat (back and forth), strong or weak.
Energy medicine educator Donna Eden4
claims chakras are multi-layered, with each of its seven layers capable of spinning in its own direction. The method she suggests for balancing chakras is both simple and direct. Hold the left hand (or both hands) some inches above the chakra you are focusing on. There will be a sensation of engagement or contact. Begin making counterclockwise circles over the chakra. This movement goes against the typically-clockwise rotation of a chakra, sweeping up all seven layers in its unidirectional wake. "The hand can act like a magnet, pulling stale or toxic energies up and out with its motion."5
Continue this counterclockwise "clearing" of the chakra for three minutes. Then reverse directions, using the right hand (or both hands) to integrate and reharmonize the chakra by moving all seven layers together in a unified clockwise spin. This method can be practiced with a client as described, or performed as a self-care routine, and it can address all seven chakras or focus on just the one or two that are in need.
Chakra balancing helps to remove toxic energies, bring hormones and emotions into balance, and support the smooth and integrated functioning of the chakra system and the unfoldment of one's life potentials. Clearing and balancing chakras has a cumulative effect when practiced regularly, more profoundly clarifying and harmonizing the core layers. Health, Bruyere claims, is more than the mere absence of disease. "Vitality, appropriate feelings, appropriate thought process, a willingness to embrace change in our lives, creative self-expression and responsibility, intuitive understanding and a healthy spiritual relationship with the 'Ultimate Creative Force' are all essential if we are to be full of light and full of life and well-being."6Barry Kapke is the program director of Asian Bodyworks at San Francisco School of Massage and the founder of Insight Bodywork'. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.References