Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

My Best Tool for Learning Energy (And Everything Else)

Monday, May 15th, 2017

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

Being confused is uncomfortable. We tend to avoid it, and rarely look for confusion. But actually, noticing confusion is the best tool I have for exploring energy, and learning in general.

Here’s an example that confused me as I was taking Anatomy and Physiology earlier this year: How do my thoughts cause my arm to move? Roughly, the nerves in the motor cortex send a signal down the spine, which reaches the muscle in my arm, which causes the myosin fibers to grab and “crawl up” the actin fibers in the muscle.

It’s easy to say, “that’s confusing,” and skip it. But hold on. Confusion exists in the human mind, not out in the world. It’s telling me that I don’t understand something. It’s guiding my learning.

Slow down. Sit with that confusion. Accept it, so it’s not something bad, it’s just something that is. Then notice when it happens. Are you confused when I talk about the motor cortex? The signal down the spine? The myosin and actin? That’s what to explore.

I started with that example to show how to use confusion. Now is the harder skill: Noticing confusion in the first place.

Often, confusion isn’t obvious. There aren’t unknown terms like myosin and actin to flag it. Sometimes, we have to search for our own confusion.

Let’s get back to energy. If you ask, “Why does visualizing light in my chest create energy?” you might be told, “Because energy follows intent.”

That doesn’t sound confusing. I know each of the words. I can imagine someone intending something, and the energy following that. Easy.

But try to step through the process. A person intends something. They focus on it. The nerves in their brain fire. And then… the energy moves?

When I try to step through that process, I notice that I am confused. When we get to the energy moving, I wonder, “What happens? Why does that happen? How are those two seemingly-distant events connected?”

It’s easy to ignore this confusion. There are no unknown words. I’ve probably understood everything the speaker intended to convey. If I don’t want to notice that confusion, I don’t have to.

But today, I’m saying: Notice that confusion. Let it guide you. Explore there.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

How Energy Teachers Create Resistance and Prevent Learning

Monday, May 1st, 2017

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

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

Building Skill with Energy: The Importance of Failure

Monday, January 30th, 2017

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

Alice wants to play basketball. She shoots baskets every day. Each shot is a little different: More wrist tension, slower bicep movement, etc. Some changes help, others don’t. And each time, she sees the result. Did the ball go in? Did it get close? She keeps the helpful changes, discards the rest, and a few months later she’s sinking many more baskets.

Bob also wants to play basketball. But he fears failure. He isn’t willing to miss a single shot. So he closes his eyes and visualizes himself sinking baskets. And he throws a ball in the air, to learn how it arcs, how hard to throw it. But he never goes near a basketball hoop, because if he did, he might discover that he doesn’t sink every shot.

Who will improve more quickly?

I used to practice energy like Bob. I was afraid of seeing an energy technique fail, afraid it would give oxygen to the chorus of internal skeptics I was trying to suffocate. So I would visualize energy, note the sensations in my body, and congratulate myself. (Never mind that placebo feels exactly the same.) Or I’d test energy with a friend, telling them exactly what I was doing and what they should feel, and congratulate myself when they felt that. (Never mind that I’d suggested exactly those sensations.)

Most energy workers practice like Bob, too. That’s how we were taught to practice, and it’s how our teachers were taught, too.

In my 30s, I scientifically tested a simple energy technique with a friend. It was fun and successful. (Details here.) Then I tested another technique, with sigils. It didn’t work, but you know what happened? Nothing. There was no skeptic hiding in the bush, waiting to cry, “I told you so!” Facing my fears, seeing they were empty, felt liberating and peaceful.

Since then, I’ve been working to practice like Alice, to create tests that only succeed if I do the energy technique properly. That’s been key to my increased confidence and skill, and it’s been fun too. That’s why I’m so passionate about testing and the Energy Geek Meetup.

About the Meetup

The Energy Geek Meetup is for practitioners who want to take their energy skills and confidence to the next level. It’s the 4th Wednesday of every month, 7-9pm, at the Embodiment Arts Collective, 3490 20th Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco (near 24th st BART). Suggested donation $5-10.

Please RSVP on Facebook or Meetup. (Popular events draw more people. RSVPing helps us grow. Thank you!)

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

The Healer, the Magician, and the Engineer

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

Archetypes help us see patterns in the world. This post is about three archetypal ways of exploring magick and healing.

The healer wants to help the person in front of them, whether that’s through compassionate conversation, behavior changes like exercise, or channeling energy. Placebo is a good thing to a healer, because it’s another tool to help people. When healers channel energy, their focus is on the effect that energy has on the person, not on where the energy comes from or how that energy source functions. Energy is one tool among many for helping people.

The magician wants to explore the hidden (occult) parts of the world. They explore spirits, correspondences, and rituals, learning the rules for their chosen system. By embracing a paradigm and understanding the meanings of symbols within that paradigm, those symbols become a language that magicians can use to express their intent. This language is used both for external change (manifesting, communicating with spirits, etc) and for internal change (personal growth, often to get in touch with one’s true will and become unafraid of pursuing it).

The engineer wants to build better tools. Tools = The forces that provide energy for healers, and that cause the external change for magicians. Engineers want to understand how those tools are built, what parts make them up, how those parts work. They want to build something new from those parts, such as new types of healing energy that people can channel, or clearer ways to send out a manifesting intent. The engineer often knows less about the other aspects of healing (talk, diet, exercise) than the healer, and less about symbols and correspondences than the magician. The engineer has the most impact when they get other people using their tools.

Long-time readers know that I don’t normally talk about archetypes. But this week, I did some manifesting, asking, “What should I write about? Cause me to write a good post,” then letting ideas come to me. Now, I don’t think the ethereal software understands literary value or social network shares, but it does understand how to nudge me along my path by getting me to explore new ideas. And I’m finding these archetypes useful as I think about how to connect my work to other practices, how to plan classes (one for healers, another for engineers), and what drives different people to explore this art and science.

Do you use archetypes? How might you use these? Leave a comment below. Thanks!

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Training Your Brain

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

When you try something new and fail, are you rewarding yourself for trying, or punishing yourself for failing?

Training is easy to understand when an animal is being trained. The dog does a desired behavior, it gets a treat, and that behavior is reinforced. Simple.

The secret is: We’re animals too, and we train our brains every day.

If we try something new and it doesn’t work, we have a choice. We can focus on the not-working, tell a failure-centric story, beat ourselves up. Or we can focus on the trying, on how hard and how important it is to try things that might not work, how that leads to improvement and discovery, and tell that story. Same events, but a decision of where to focus.

This came up when a reader tried the double-blind sigil test, didn’t get any results on either sigil (as happens to some people), and apologized for it. I told her this:

You did great by trying the test. So many people never even test themselves. If you can, celebrate yourself for stepping up and doing the work, whether or not you got the result you were looking for.

I think this applies to a lot of life.

(Have you tried the double-blind sigil test yet? We’re getting great results, and there’s still time to participate. Try it, and practice focusing on the fact that you stepped up and tried. Thanks!)

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Choosing the Hard Path

Monday, March 14th, 2016

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

I’m learning energy healing the hard way, and it’s forcing me to become a better healer.

I want to demonstrate my healing techniques (among other goals). And it’s so tempting to do a healing session, see that the person sleeps better or hurts less or whatever other result, and call it a success. So, so tempting.

But that path invites placebo and luck. That isn’t the demonstration I’m looking for.

And facing my goals, really truly facing them, is forcing me to realize the space between where I am now and where I want to be. The space between “skilled” and “skilled enough to know I’ll create obvious results, if energy healing and magick are the only tools I’m allowed.” And facing that gap is the only way to close it.

It’s hard. At times I hate it, at times I resist learning. But I’m figuring things out and practicing techniques now that I never would have otherwise. I’m only doing them because the scientific method is forcing me to do it the hard way.

It makes me wonder: What other ways have I convinced myself I’m skilled? And if I got serious about testing, how much better would I become?

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Priorities and Sacrifices

Monday, July 27th, 2015

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

I want to be fit. But my friend who biked from San Francisco to LA? She wants to be fit in an entirely different way.

But if I could be fit without the sacrifice? Sure, I want that.

To find your priority, see what you’re willing to say no to.

A few of mine:

No to a party, so I can write and sleep and focus again the next day.

No to a lucritive-but-tiring job, so I have the energy to study magick.

No to traveling, so I can focus on Healing Lab right here at home.

Those are my sacrifices. Yours may be different. But whatever your priority, there will be sacrifices.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Overcoming Resistance: Talking to the Inner Child

Monday, July 13th, 2015

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

The resistance is the doubt that says, “If that one technique failed, it means magick isn’t real.”

It’s the flinch that keeps you from really using your magick, because what if it doesn’t work this time? Will you have to abandon everything?

It’s your father’s reflexive skepticism, internalized as your own.

You will encounter your resistance as you learn magick. You probably have already.

If you don’t obey it, you’ll instead want to push it down, throw it in a locked room and hope it dies.

It won’t. It’ll scream and bang and torment you.

Instead, talk to it gently, like you would a child. That’s where it came from, after all — a learned response from childhood, when you had to agree with parents and teachers or face punishment.

Listen to that voice. Talk to it. Thank it for looking out for you. Explain how it’s scared of the wrong things. Teach it what really matters, and why you path is safe and good. Guide it like you would a child, with kindness and empathy. Help it go back to sleep.

Then get back to creating your art.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Creating Time for Magick (My Work Oct 25-31)

Friday, October 31st, 2014

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

Every Friday, I discuss what I learned that week. Lost? Read the archives.

Priorities aren’t about what we do. They’re about what we cut.

This was my first week at my new job. Last weekend, I helped a dear friend teach a class. Zero days off.

I can’t just say, “Magick is important.” I have to say what I won’t do to make time for magick.

Evenings are about seeing people I love. I’ve seen someone important to me each evening this week, and I’m seeing several of them tonight. I’m not willing to cut that. But I get home at 6, and if I choose to work instead of relax, I can get an hour in before dinner. Like I’m doing tonight, to finish this post.

I can also do an hour on the bus. Half an hour in the morning, doing magick practice. Tonight, half an hour in the evening, doing the first draft of this post. I’d rather read, but if I don’t do this now, it won’t get done.

I’m also learning to track my food. If I don’t have a snack at 6, I don’t have the focus to work, but I have plenty of focus for games. Not good…

So, prioritizing magick is about cutting leisure time during my fully-awake hours. It’s not something I can add to my day at 10pm. It’s something I do instead of relaxing at 5pm. And if I’m honest, this is creating good habits for when I’m doing magick full time again.

Let’s talk magick studies. Here’s what I’ve done this week:


I’m getting decent results just dumping energy into my outer aura. But I’ll get better results if I target specific parts of the recipient’s ethereal body. (Inner aura and paths to mind, specifically.)

This week, I confirmed that hunch with a trainer, then practiced connecting to people on the bus. Didn’t do any effects, just learned to connect properly. The problem is, I can’t precisely feel where my aura is going, what it’s connecting to. I can do that with sensory connections, but not with my aura. The solution: Make normal connections, find the ethereal structures you want to target, then let my aura follow those normal connections like a trail of breadcrumbs.

Also, what’s special about aura that makes it so much better at transmitting energy than a normal connection? If I understand that, I could potentially make aura-like connections at distance, make them more precisely, or make connections that are even better than aura at delivering energy. The key seems to be connection density: Each bit of aura is made of tons of connections, all reinforcing each other.

(I’ve had some success extending connections like this, but haven’t yet done anything more than connect to people and verify that it feels right from my end.)


I also finished learning level 6 communication. Nothing unexpected here, just put in the practice to get reasonably proficient.

Fiction Recommendation

I’m reading during downtime at work. Through the author notes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (which you should definitely read), I found a fiction about magick as a branch of physics, explored as a science. Thoroughly enjoying it.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Serenity and Focus (My Work August 2-8)

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

Every Friday, I discuss what I learned that week. Lost? Read the archives.

This week, I realized how important it is to have a serene social life.

A friend blew up at me last weekend. It was over me asking her to be quiet in a movie theater. Yes, I kid you not. Most likely, she was simmering on something else, and took any excuse she could find. There are more details, but this blog is about magick, so I’ll leave it at that.

For most of the week, I didn’t have the focus for much magick. I did some healing work on myself, the calming effect we’ve talked about. I did some manifesting. I wrote a little. But I didn’t really accomplish anything.

Working in an office, there’s a social structure to force you to work. It also has busywork for you to do when you can’t focus. My magick practice has neither.

Smaller versions of this have come up before. A lover who gets upset over small things, a friend constantly in trouble. In the past, I’ve only been unfocused for one day at a time, so I’ve ignored it. But those days add up. And I’m seeing the difference between a friend who needs some support, vs a friend who takes their stress and unhappiness out on you.

Four years ago, I chose a career path offering lots of free time, so I could focus on magick. Now I’m realizing, I also need to choose a serene social life, surrounding myself with calm people. It’s the only way I’ll accomplish what I want to with magick.

(Friday, I also learned more fundamental skills for the sensation technique. I’ll post about those next week.)

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at