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Immediate feedback is the key to learning: Try a skill, see how you did, adjust and repeat. Without feedback, we can’t improve. And yet, energy exercises rarely invite feedback, and often cheat to ensure everyone succeeds. Why?
An example: Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine white light circling your body. Did you feel something?
Another example: Point your index finger at your head. Slowly bring it toward your forehead, between your eyebrows. Do you notice that tingling and pressure there?
In most classes, they’d say, “Awesome, that’s energy, great job!” And maybe it is, for some people, some of the time. But when I breathe slowly and deeply, the hyperventilation causes sensations, even without energy. And the sensation of almost being touched is called proprioception, and it’s unrelated to energy.
Those exercises set up conditions that always cause sensations, with or without energy, then told students, “Yay, you felt energy.” That’s what I mean by cheating.
Here’s why this matters: Energy is hard. It takes a great deal of skill to produce even the smallest results reliably. Whenever attempting a new technique, or even an old technique that hasn’t been thoroughly tested and mastered, it’s normal to get poor results. That’s a normal part of learning.
But when we give exercises that make energy seem easy, we create false expectations: That immediate success is normal. That being “good at energy” means having mastered every skill (and that mastery happens with a few weekend workshops). That, if we haven’t mastered every skill, we’ve failed, we’re bad at energy.
That’s not a great foundation for learning. And yet, everyone I know was taught energy with exercises set up for 100% success rates. I don’t think I’d truly appreciated that until now, three months into the Energy Geek Meetup.
(At the Energy Geek Meetup, we do energy exercises with placebo controls. The whole point is that you know if your technique succeeded, and you know if it didn’t, so you can improve. You can see examples here.)
I’m seeing how confronting it can be, especially for experienced energy workers, to learn that a technique isn’t working. At the meetup last week, a woman, very skilled at sending energy, was practicing receiving. She discovered that she felt the energy throughout her body, everywhere at once, and couldn’t identify where the sender was sending the energy. She sat down, we talked. It was very hard for her, even shameful. She expected 100% success, even though I’d opened the meetup by talking about learning, even though she’d seen me have techniques not work too. I’ve also felt that pressure to succeed. I think it’s tremendously common.
I’m seeing how we know, deep down, what results we’ll get, and how we avoid experiences that will challenge our self-image. Telling a friend about the meetup, I said, “It’s confronting for people, because energy is actually really hard.” Her reply: “Oh, it’s easy for me. I gaze into someone’s eyes and feel their energy.” I explained how eye gazing invites all these psychological processes, and how we do exercises that eliminate those psychological aids so we can focus on biofield energy, to learn to use it more reliably and effectively. After I said that, she still wanted to come to the meetup, but only to watch, not to try the exercises herself. (I understand that response too. For months, I had a post written about sigil tests I wanted to do, but never finished it. I loved the idea of testing, but actually doing it was too much for me.)
I’m seeing how people create stories to protect their self-image. One friend came to an Energy Geek Meetup, did the exercises, got no successes. We talked afterward, she said that the exercises were impossible, that energy simply didn’t work like that (even though we’d just seen other people succeed). A couple months later, I asked why she hadn’t come back. Her reply: “There were too many beginners. I want to practice with advanced energy workers.” (I can relate to this too. Too many times, when encountering someone more skilled than me at some aspect of energy, I rejected them instead of learning from them. I’d shift my focus to aspects of energy where I was the more skilled person, and choose to believe that those aspects were more important.)
These are very common, very human reactions. Millions of years of evolution shaped our brains to protect our status and self-image, to avoid situations where we might discover that we’re not as skillful as we thought (especially in public). My task now is to help people through those reactions, because that’s what it will take to build a community that practices energy the way I want to practice it.
(Friends, if you see yourself in these stories, know I love you, and that I understand how hard it is to test your techniques. Really, I do. I had months of resistance when I first tested my techniques, and I have nothing but love and support for you.)
At last week’s Energy Geek Meetup, I noticed that I’ve become truly comfortable with techniques not working. Not “bearably uncomfortable,” but actually not a big deal. This is new for me. I think I know what changed: In the past few months, I’ve been testing techniques, learning that quite a few aren’t working, and then fixing them. And that’s shifted how I see failure. When a technique doesn’t work now, I know that’s a temporary state, a necessary part of debugging, a step on the way to mastery. That sounds obvious, trite even, but the point isn’t to know it intellectually, it’s to feel it internally.
A friend suggested an opening circle, something to set the intention of the evening. I agree. I need to communicate that energy is hard, that most exercises cheat, and that part of achieving mastery is discovering that some techniques don’t work yet. I need to help people through that resistance, so we can build a community devoted to truly learning energy.
And I hope that you, dear reader, feel a little more comfortable testing your own techniques after reading this, too.If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.