Thursday, January 08, 2009

Managing Energy

Over in the Blue Candle Healing spell thread, I promised to come back and get a discussion started about what I (and I hope other people who will chime in!) mean by "managing energy". But starting with some background helps.

Here's how I look at it, which is a combination of my personal experience, some bits of my training, and some general discussions in the broader Pagan community (I'm not sure I can break down easily which bits come from where at this point, though.)

Basic principles (Moving from more evidence based to more belief based, roughly.)
1) The universe is composed of energy, and it functions because there are all sorts of energetic things going on.

2) We are part of the universe, therefore we are composed of energy too.

3) I can become aware of the energy flows around me. That means within me, and between me and other people, me and various spaces, and me and events or things I do. All of those things affect me in various ways. This is fairly observable in our lives - you walk into some houses, and you feel instantly at home, you walk in somewhere else, and feel uncomfortable.

4) The body tends towards a point of natural balance, if left to its own devices and not meddled with. (However, many many things throw the body out of balance. Illness. Dieting. Experiences. Stress and trauma. Etc.) Also, tendency is only a tendency anyway.

5) Given all of this, I can take some control (and responsibility) for how I feel. I can't control everything, and there will always be variables I can't directly affect (like the weather, or whether cold or flu germs are around me), but I can do a lot to help my body a) stay in better balance and b) respond to specific experiences, including stress, trauma, exertion, unusual experiences, etc.

Possible options

1) Too much energy
This is the classic one discussed in magical settings - you get rid of it by grounding (connecting to an external source that can absorb it). For me, I start having issues with my health if I have certain kinds of too much energy, or don't get rid of excess adequately. (In particular, I get migraines - partly due to the energy, and partly because lack of sleep is a significant trigger for me, and excess energy makes that harder.)

2) Too little energy
This is the one many of us are familiar with - too little sleep, too much junk food with inadequate nutrition, too many things on our plate. Restoring energy can have many forms - but ones that are actually restorative (sleep, reasonable food, rest, destressing, other self-caretaking) are generally preferable to things that mask the lost energy (like caffinated or energy drinks, ginseng, etc. etc.) You can draw in energy via grounding techniques, but this is not always the best choice (again, it masks the essential issue.)

3) Imbalanced energy
A number of magical systems (including some extremely longstanding ones - Chinese and Indian practices, for example) believe that energy flows within us (through different centers in our body), but that it can also become blocked or otherwise interrupted. A number of techniques can help rebalance - anything from herbs, acupuncture, acupressure, exercise (like yoga), visualisation and meditation, toning, and all sorts of other things.

4) Different attempts to rebalance working against each other.
For example, if I am lacking energy, and I drink a soda with caffeine, and I then go and try and have a nap, I'm trying to rebalance my energy - but it's probably not going to be effective. (The caffeine will make it hard to nap.) There are some energy techniques that can be counterproductive, as well.

5) Less than great decisions and choices.
If you know something's a particular trigger for your body, or you have a history of a particular kind of problem, and you make choices that keep hitting that thing, you're going to keep having that problem. For example, if I am stupid about my sleep habits, I'm prone to a migraine, and it's really my own fault when that happens, because I really do know better. It's still an imbalance - and because I'm already sensitive to this issue, it may be harder to fix in some ways than other things (I often struggle more with the sleep stuff than with, say, eating sensibly.)

Challenges with magical and ritual work
The reason we start talking a lot more about this stuff in the Pagan community is because we're often doing a number of things that affect our internal balance (and in many cases, that's intentional: balanced energy is often seen as static energy: moving energy makes it easier to do magical and ritual work - but that means deliberately unbalancing things sometimes.)

We're not the only people who do this - martial arts, music, dance, theatre, and a number of other things people do in the world talk about many of the same issues. As my covenmate reminded me in conversation about this yesterday, we definitely don't have lock on the One True Way - there are lots of approaches and techniques from these (and other areas of life) that can be tremendously helpful. What is different about the Pagan community is a) that we talk more often about it explicitly (not tied into other things) and b) that we're doing some of it in very specific settings which have some particular demands (Drawing Down, for example, has some specific energy implications for the person Drawing Down, and also for support staff for that work.)

Now, I need to be in bed sometime soon, and therefore will stop here, and let you all ask questions and such and go from here.

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template