Energy Healing Culture: How We’re Holding Ourselves Back

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How does it feel to be wrong? Scary, dumb, shameful?

Actually, being wrong feels the same as being right. What feels bad is realizing we’re wrong.

Our brains encourage seeking behavior with dopamine. If we’re searching for food, and we see an apple tree in the distance, we get a little dopamine. We get closer and see ripe apples, we get a little more dopamine. When we reach the tree, you guessed it, even more dopamine.

But seeking out places where we’re wrong? No dopamine, serotonin, or happy neurotransmitters of any kind. There’s no innate drive to seek out places we’re wrong, because our brains didn’t evolve to seek truth, they evolved to keep us alive, create offspring, and seek social status.

Seeking our errors is something that must be taught through culture. And most cultures don’t.

This came up last week, talking with a friend about testing energy techniques. I told her about a class I took years ago, taught by a nurse for medical professionals to learn energy healing for patients in hospitals. Exactly the sort of teacher you’d expect to test their exercises.

Here’s the first exercise she gave: With the index finger of your right hand, almost touch the palm of your left hand. Notice the tingling. That’s energy.

I did feel tingling. I had a friend almost touch my palm, and felt tingling again. Then I asked that friend to either almost touch me or not, while I closed my eyes. I felt nothing, until I opened my eyes and saw they were already almost touching me, when I felt tingling. Which tells me: This sensation is caused by knowing I’m about to be touched, not by feeling the energy radiating off someone’s body. (The term, by the way, is proprioception.)

And the shame is, this teacher had techniques that really do help people. She was doing a lot of good, and could do even more good if her more mainstream peers would take energy healing seriously. But when the very first claim is so easy to test, and so clearly incorrect, it makes all of her work so easy to dismiss.

Telling this story to my friend, she said, “Yeah, some teachers are so lazy.” And that’s a nice fantasy: People get things wrong because they’re lazy, and as long as I’m not lazy, I won’t have to worry about overlooking my own false beliefs.

Only, it doesn’t work like that. This teacher worked as a nurse in a hospital. She is not lazy. And her error is far more pervasive, and far harder to avoid.

Our brains are wired to confirm our beliefs, not test them. Our broader culture doesn’t teach us to test beliefs, either. And the only tests I’ve ever seen in energy classes were rigged so students would succeed whether they were using real energy or not.

I want to learn how energy truly works. I want to develop techniques and demos that win over mainstream society. And to do that, we need a culture that encourages real testing.

I hope you’ll join me in creating that. There’s a lot to do, but a good first step is to blindfold a friend and play with energy. Then talk about it, write about it, and invite energy workers and teachers to explore real energy with you.

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2 Responses to “Energy Healing Culture: How We’re Holding Ourselves Back”

  1. stefen says:

    This post brings up something I’ve been pondering recently.

    When working with energy, a lot of people tell you to do things such as place your hands together and slowly move them away when you feel heat, shake your hands or rub them together until they tingle, etc. They always claim that this is your chakras being stimulated or the energy coming from your hands. Yes, I’ve done this, and I do feel heat or tingling. I’ve always thought it was pretty neat. However, this fits right in with what you were saying about our brains being wired to confirm our beliefs.

    I got to thinking about this recently, because it occurred to me that it’s entirely possible that what we feel when we do these things isn’t always the sort of energy discussed here and elsewhere, but something else entirely. When you rub your hands together or shake them, that probably does make them tingle. Not due to etheric energy, but due to the nerves being stimulated via completely normal physical means. When you put your hands together, of course you’re going to feel heat if they’re close enough. This is probably more often than not body heat. Yes, heat is energy and technically energy is being felt, but it’s thermal/infrared energy. Not the kind we’re trying to use. It’s the same sort of heat you feel radiating from a stove if you put your hand hear the burner.

    When you focus on your hand, you’re probably unconsciously increasing blood flow to that hand. This makes it warmer. I also notice that when I pet an animal, my hands get warm. I used to think that was due to energy, but now I think it’s simply the increased blood flow to my hands coupled with the animal’s own body heat being transferred to my hand.

    So how can we tell the difference? How do we know when something is simply normal body heat and when it’s etheric energy? If it’s etheric energy, how is it making your hands warm if etheric energy can’t be converted to thermal energy? A lot of people could be thinking they’re feeling etheric energy when they’re really just feeling normal, physical energy. I suppose one way is to make sure you’re a good distance away when working with a partner. Otherwise they’re going to feel your body heat and think they’re feeling the energy that you’re trying to project. Feeling your own energy might be a bit trickier due to this though.

    • Yes, exercises like rubbing your hands together are exactly what I’m talking about: They take an ordinary phenomenon that feels a little weird, and tell people it’s energy. This convinces the people who want to be convinced, while losing credibility with anyone who wants to truly answer the question, “Is energy real?”

      If you’re alone, it’s very hard to eliminate expectation and placebo when testing for energy. But if you have a friend to practice with, it’s easy. Here are some exercises:

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