Energy Medicine Morning Ritual

Should you consider an energy medicine morning ritual? Good question. Here are my thoughts on that.

There are a lot of holistic and alternative techniques out there. Some are very valuable, some not so much, and, regrettably, others are downright fraudulent.

Personally, I aim to balance an open-minded attitude with a solid dose of healthy skepticism. It’s not always an easy balance to attain.

Energy Medicine encompasses a wide range of beliefs and teachings.

You’ve probably heard of the concept of Chi (life force) from Chinese medicine.

Or perhaps you’re familiar with the concept of chakras.

These are examples of aspects of energy medicine. There are lots more.

Are these valid, true concepts? Do they really describe energies that adepts are able to sense? Or are they woo-woo foolishness and wishful thinking?

I don’t have a solid answer to those questions, but I am inclined to accept that there are energies involved in wellness that Western medicine doesn’t recognize.

Still, it’s true that no one is ever seen or measured Chi, for example.

However, that may mean simply that we don’t have the proper instruments to recognize Chi.

If you look for x-rays with a telescope, you’re not going to find them.

So lacking proof, what should we do?

Here’s a question I use to help me decide about beliefs: “If I acted as if this belief was true, how would it affect my life? Would I be a better person or a worse person? Would my behavior improve or deteriorate? Would I be putting myself or others at some sort of risk?”

Using that criteria, here is an example of a belief I choose to hold as true: “People are doing the best they can with the resources they have.”

I don’t really know if that’s absolutely true or not.

However, if I act as if it is I find myself going through life with much more compassion.

I’m willing to believe that nobody chooses to be a jerk and that if we knew their life story we could understand where their poor behavior came from.

BTW -that doesn’t mean we condone inappropriate behavior. We can detest the sin while feeling compassion for the sinner.

Another criterion I like to use is the source of the teaching and whether or not someone promoted may have an ulterior motive.

If something has a long history in some healing tradition or another, I tend to treat it respectfully.

On the other hand, if something is being promoted with a big sales push and little solid evidence, the dial on my skepticism meter gets turned way up.

How does this relate to Energy Medicine?

Well, many traditions allude to various forms of life force and energies.

There does seem to be something that healers and mystics across multiple cultures have sensed. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. Or perhaps there really is something there.

Additionally, Western science is beginning to recognize some very crude forms of what could be considered energy medicine.

For example, your beating heart sends a very powerful electromagnetic force throughout your body with every beat. The pattern of those beats contain information. We are beginning to recognize that these electromagnetic waves communicate that information to every cell in your body at the speed of light.

Those energies have always been there, but we’ve never paid much attention to any possible function.

Not only that, these electromagnetic waves radiate out from your body to others. It’s possible to detect traces of one person’s heartbeat pattern in another person’s EEG (brainwave) pattern, even if there is no direct contact between them!

We can expect to see a lot more research along these lines in the coming years.

On the ulterior motive side, many of the techniques evoked to manipulate energy are free or very low cost. They also are generally safe. There doesn’t seem to be much downside.

Additionally, many have proven benefits beyond any theoretical effect on your energy fields.

A good example of this is meditation. Multiple scientific studies demonstrate profound health benefits from a regular practice of meditation.

Even more profoundly, new dynamic brain scanning techniques show that meditation changes the actual physical structure of the brain.

I think you can tell I’m leaning toward accepting at least the possibility that energetic factors influence our health and well-being.

As part of that, I’ve incorporated an energy medicine ritual into my morning routine.

One of the people whose work I follow is Donna Eden.

Donna claims to be able to see or sense nine separate energy systems that are active in all of us. She also has developed routines to help clear and reorganize blocked or confused energies.

Is this really true? I don’t know. I do know that people who work with her appear to achieve great results. Maybe it’s a powerful placebo effect, or maybe she really is straightening out energies. Either way, people get good results.

One of the things he recommends is an energy clearing routine to do once or twice a day. Sort of the energetic equivalent of brushing your teeth.

I’ve started doing it every morning. If nothing else, it’s a general stretching get-moving-in-the-morning routine. I like to do this, then some gentle calisthenics followed by a 12-minute meditation (I listen to a binaural recording time for 12 minutes).

I enjoy this morning routine and I think it helps me get my days off to a good start. There’s certainly is no downside to it.

I suggest you give it a try and see how you respond.

In this video, Donna leads you through one version of her energy clearing/balancing routine. If nothing else, I think you agree that she herself radiates a positive, joyful energy. Have fun trying it!


Use Your Subconscious to Make Better Decisions

choosing the best planHave you ever struggled when faced with an important decision? Would you like to know how to make better decisions?

Decisions about things like what job to take or which apartment to rent or what school to attend?

A lot of people will try to go about this using the old Ben Franklin technique of writing the pros and cons of each option.

Here’s how Ben described his technique:

“My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different time occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.” 

While that can be helpful, I find I often still have difficulties making a decision even after I have compiled an extensive list of pluses and minuses.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes writing things out in a purely objective fashion only seems to muddy the water more.

How do you compare apples and oranges?

Is it more important to have morning light in the kitchen window or to be two blocks closer to the subway station? Is it more important to live in a city with a nicer climate and a job I like or to be closer to my family?

The challenge is that the pro and con method uses only the conscious mind. It’s very poor at harnessing the benefit of subconscious knowing and intuition.

Our subconscious does a tremendous amount of work in the background.

I won’t go into much detail here but part of the reason it needs to is because we are constantly bombarded with much more information than we can handle consciously.

Our solution to this is that the subconscious does a lot of filtering. It only brings something to our attention when it recognizes it as important to us.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this in various ways.

This is why you can be at a party carrying on a conversation and completely unaware of the conversation on the other side of the room until somebody over there mentions your name.

You hadn’t been actively eavesdropping. You weren’t even aware of the other conversation until your subconscious picked up the mention of your name.

Your screening system immediately decided that might be something important to you and relayed the info to your conscious awareness.

front end of red carThis is also the reason why once you buy a certain model car you notice all the similar models on the road. Those cars didn’t suddenly materialize. They were there all along. You just didn’t have any reason to notice them before you had one too.

This is part of the reason why goalsetting can be helpful. When we’ve defined a goal, our subconscious can begin to look for events and opportunities that may help us reach it.

Scientists often describe solutions coming to them not when they were actively working on the problem but while they were distracted or relaxing. Think of Archimedes discovering displacement while taking a bath.

Another example I always remember is the chemist who first described the structure of the benzene ring.

benzene ringHe had been trying to work out how these molecules were constructed for some time without success. Then he had a dream of wriggling snakes and suddenly one of the snakes grabbed its own tail.

The dream gave him the insight that benzene had a ring structure.

That’s all well and good, but do we have to wait for some random dream or flash of inspiration? Is there some way to purposely tap into our subconscious?

In short, can we harness the subconscious to help us make better decisions?

Yes, we can!

Here’s a three step process you can try:

Define the decision you want to make or the problem you’re trying to solve. Write it down.

• Next, distract the conscious mind with some activity that will keep it occupied. In various experiments, researchers used computer-based puzzles. You can do the same thing using a puzzle book such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles or anagrams or find-the-word type puzzles. Anything that will keep your conscious mind focused and occupied. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes.

• Now, without thinking too much about it, write down your decision or a solution to the problem you were working on.

I’ve been surprised at the feeling of clarity I often achieve using this short exercise. Give it a try and see how it works for you.

BTW – This isn’t some technique I just made up.  There’s quite a lot of research into this type of decision making.  If you want to look into the studies, here’s a place to start:

On Making the Right Choice: The Deliberation-Without-Attention Effect
Ap Dijksterhuis, Maarten W. Bos, Loran F. Nordgren, Rick B. van Baaren

Science 17 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5763, pp. 1005-1007
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121629


Free Yourself from Useless Worry

worried young womanHere’s a skill I suggest you commit to: free yourself from worry.

I define worrying as imagining unpleasant or unwanted outcomes as if they had already happened.

Worry itself serves no useful purpose. It’s a thief.  It robs the present moment of its joy.

And then it gets even worse…

Worry warps a person’s ability to see reality clearly and take effective action.

Over time, worry can become a habit, a habit of thought. Not at all good because we now know that thought habits lead to real, physical changes in the brain.

The more you worry, the more you are wiring your brain to do it in the future.

Fortunately, habits can be changed.

It may not seem like it, but the degree to which we engage in worry is, in fact, under our control. This is despite what many people believe. That’s not surprising since there are many mistaken beliefs about worry.

Here are a few…

Many people believe outside events trigger their worry and therefore they have no control over it.

Others believe that worry is necessary and useful.

Or they believe that worrying somehow protects them from bad events.

Some people think worrying proves that they’re concerned.

The list goes on…

So to begin, look at your assumptions about worry. Do you worry a lot? Why? Do you think it somehow serves you?

As I mentioned, some people think that worry is necessary and useful.

They may even think that worrying is a sign of maturity and being responsible, or that worrying is a way to figure out an answer to a problem.

None of that is true.

Excessive worry is more a sign of inability to gain proper perspective.

Rather than producing a solution, it keeps you stuck in the problem.

This is a good place to apply the Pareto principle, the idea that 20% of activity produces 80% of the results.

Spend 20% of your time or less identifying the problem and 80% working on the solution.

Another reason some people worry is that they feel it somehow protects them from bad things happening.

That feeling borders on superstition. All worry does is keep you from enjoying the present moment.

If your mind is filled with thoughts of terrible things that could possibly happen in the future it’s hard to recognize and enjoy what’s going on at the moment.

As you consider your beliefs about worry and why you may engage in it, you may find you want to stop worrying so much. Here’s how to go about doing that

An important first step for many people is to develop a tolerance for uncertainty.

Many people who worry chronically do so because they have difficulty accepting uncertainty.

Alas, uncertainty in this life is inescapable. The old saying that nothing is certain except death and taxes carries more than a little truth.

Worrying does nothing to change life’s uncertainties.

Here’s a principle of cognitive restructuring that can help you deal with uncertainty: question your thoughts.

Many people go through life never questioning the accuracy or usefulness of their beliefs or automatic thoughts.

Often just taking a step back and asking yourself about the accuracy of a given thought gives you a better perspective. Very often you’ll realize that a thought has little validity. Then you’ll be able to move beyond it.

Is it possible, or even desirable, to be certain about everything in life? Is it possible to accept the inevitable uncertainty and still enjoy life?

Here’s a question for you to consider:

If something is uncertain, do you tend to envision a bad or a good outcome?

It’s equally valid to imagine a positive future as it is a negative one. Which way do you tend to go?

Imagining something bad happening can be about as bad as actually experiencing it.

Mark TwainAs Mark Twain said “I’ve experienced many terrible things in my life, most of which have never happened.”

For many people, worrying becomes a way of life. For these people, worrisome thoughts intrude throughout the day, distracting them from their present moment.

If they could focus on what was going on in their immediate experience, they’d almost always realize that their current situation was actually pretty good.

When most people question their assumptions and beliefs about worry, they realize that it isn’t serving them. Yet they still feel compelled to worry.

It can be a tough habit of thought to break. But it definitely is possible.

Here’s how…

First, what generally doesn’t work is trying to stop “cold turkey.”

Fortunately, there’s a way to taper off that works for most people.

The better strategy is to accept your tendency to worry, but agree with yourself to confine it to a set period of time once or twice a day.

With this technique, you set some time aside, say fifteen or twenty minutes, a day where you allow yourself to worry to your heart’s content.

Then when you catch yourself with worrisome thoughts at other times of day, remind yourself that you’re going to do your worrying later.

Most people find that this allows them to stop worrying in the immediate moment because they know they can do it a little later.

This frees mental and emotional energy to focus on what’s working and solutions for what isn’t.

Once you’ve delayed the worrying, refocus your attention on your immediate environment. Even better, look for something to appreciate in the present moment.

The next step is to gradually reduce the daily time allotted to worrying.

Actually use a timer and set it for progressively shorter intervals. As an example, if you start at 20 minutes gradually work down to 15, then 10 and then five.

Remember that worrying is not problem solving. It’s more of an emotional drain that actually makes taking effective action less likely.

Freeing yourself from worry spares you emotional turmoil and allows you to focus your energy in more productive ways. You might also want to use some of the time you free up to develop the knack of living in gratitude, but that’s a topic for another day.