Energy healing, or energy medicine, is based on the ancient concept that there is a vital force, an underlying flow of energy, both within the physical body and extending from it. The body’s entire energy system is referred to as the energy field, the energy body, the biofield, or the subtle body—all interchangeable terms.
This system of energy is the template from which the physical body grows, and it guides the body’s function. I like to think of the physical body as a plant and the energy body as the soil in which the plant grows. The soil affects the plant’s growth and health. While factors other than the soil (such as trauma, freezing temperatures, or poor sunlight) might impact the health of the plant, the overall homeostasis and growth of the plant relies on the soil.
The flow of energy through the subtle body can be compared to the flow of water through a river and its tributaries. If a dam is built along the river (an energy block forms) or a huge rain dumps extra water into the river (there’s an enormous influx of energy), the water will overflow to create new streams. If there’s a paucity of water (energy), the smaller, shallower tributaries will dry up. Our goal in energy healing is to keep the water (the energy) flowing smoothly throughout the system by clearing the main river way and the tributaries and dredging any silt that builds up, so to speak.
What is the anatomy of the energy body? The answer to this question depends on the culture and the paradigm of energy healing we’re looking at. In Western culture today, the most commonly known paradigms are from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which includes the dan tiens and meridians; the chakra system and aura from India; and the matrix described in several shamanic traditions. Different healers perceive, see, and describe the energy body differently, according to how they were trained. As I’ve studied energy healing over the years, at times I found these differences disconcerting. It was as if I could sense or see only the system I was learning at the time. I approach new modalities as an open-minded skeptic, so at one stage of my journey I began to wonder if I was feeling and sensing in my hands and body because of a brain signal stemming only from my belief from what I was learning at the moment (i.e., my imagination). Later, I experienced another phenomenon: I began to perceive pathways in the body that I knew nothing about. I felt confused as I noticed energy channels that crossed the body and ran up and down in ways that were different than the systems I was familiar with. Each time I noticed these “new” channels, I would check in with one of my teachers, Maria Elena Cairo, and she would confirm that I had stumbled onto something from TCM or another model of health and healing. At that point, I noted how all of these energy anatomies worked together, in the same way the systems of the body—skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, and so on—work together.
In fact, each of these energy anatomies forms a different layer of the energy body. I believe healers perceive the energy body according to the training they have had; their training teaches them to pitch their attention to the specific anatomy or layer of the energy body their modality works with. Western medical specialists do the same thing, seeing the body through the system they are working with. A cardiologist focuses on the heart and cardiovascular system, but she or he does not look for broken bones. Energy healers have the same partitions; they see the body and treat it from the level of the energy body they were trained in.
How we are taught healing affects both how we see and hold the healing and how we perceive the energy field. This is a key point to keep in mind, as it can be quite confusing for a beginner to understand why different energy healers may have such different and varied explanations and therapies for the same dynamic in one individual.
The energy body is the underlying flow of energy that assists and supports the body’s normal functioning. While we talk about the energy body and the flow of energy as two different things, they are, in fact, one entity. The energy body is a body of energy in constant flow and movement. We can assist the health of the energy body and the flow of energy by opening energy channels and allowing sluggish or stagnant energy to flow in its natural patterns. Illness, symptoms, and energy blocks all occur in an effort to bring an energy pattern back to its natural flow. It is important to stress that healing is the restoration of the underlying flow in the body. Healing is the unwinding of energy blocks. Healing is redemption of a wound that has been inflicted or an illness that has appeared. Healing is the movement of the energy body back towards wholeness, back towards its original pattern, albeit with imperfection or scars and often with change.
This article was excerpted from the book Energy Healing: The Essentials of Self-Care by Ann Marie Chiasson, MD. Copyright © 2013 by Ann Marie Chiasson. To be published in January 2013 by Sounds True.