Arisol

Energy gone wrong and the path back

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Hi All, 

 

The title says pretty much what I want to express in this post. I had a dream where I saw myself writing this, so here I am, although I had no plan to write my story here. 

 

A bit more than 10 years ago, I was living in Paris, and one night I was out in town, when suddenly I had an internal fire light up inside me. It was hot, and sexy, and massive, I felt like I was on fire internally, but I wasn't in pain. Quite the contrary, it was quite ecstatic and full of pleasure. I have strange memories of that night, like everything was luminous, wordless, and radiant, even though I was in the basement of a dark dingy bar. It was the most un-spiritual place I could think of.  

 

For reference, at the time it happened, I was not doing any esoteric practices, other than trying (not very successfully) to maintain awareness. I was having friendly conversations with a teacher in the arts every week though.  And I had done some kind of meditation on and off and without structure or aim during the past 10 years before that. The days/months that followed I lost weight, toned my muscles, and felt exuberant. 

 

Fast forward two years later.... my life was flipped over on its head. I lost a beautiful relationship with someone I loved very much, moved countries twice, changed occupation three times, got offered a full scholarship,  and I was in complete pain. Physical pain, all the vibrant energy seemed to have congealed in my muscles, my nervous system was on fire, my joints were swollen, horrible digestion, slept without resting, health was deteriorating. Even my hair and nails were in pain. I had enough money and work stability, I still don't know how I managed to hang on to my job when my mind felt like it was broken in pieces.

 

Clearly, I went to see doctors, I got no hope from them, they could see some trouble in my back in an MRI, but all they could do was give me pain pills and wait for it to get worse before I'd qualify for surgery. Which I didn't want anyway. I didn't take the pills either. The words fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease,  chronic fatigue, brain fog were all used by my doctors. 

 

A lot of things kept on happening in my body and psyche, night sweats, feeling of electricity running up and down my spine, sometimes it would take me so and I couldn't move, uncontrollable sleepiness at times, and dreams dreams dreams. Dreams so frightful that I'd wake up feeling shell shocked. The dreams are a whole other story. 

 

I started doing extreme sports, pain and all, just to face fear that I felt I could handle. I was looking for honest, clean fear. I went down cliffs, ravines, caves, I camped alone in the mountains in freezing temperatures. I walked ridges, I hiked in up and down in the dark, I walked alone on a glacier at night. I had a need to look at death in the face, physically, on my terms, and not just when it assailed me in dreams. 

 

Anyhow, you get the point, it was a dark period. 

 

I knew that the energy was active in my body, and it was wreaking havoc, and I also knew that the way out was through the arts. So I started doing what I knew, diligently, and in a disciplined way. I was not doing the right things, I made some mistakes that caused more pain, but I had the right intention. 

 

Soon, about a year in,  the right teachers appeared. I'll talk about one in particular here, although there have been several. I learned the art of shiatsu from a japanese sensei from the Nippon shiatsu school. Shiatsu is finger pressure on tsubos or meridian pressure points. Similar to accupuncture, but without needles. The school is in a city not too far from where I live. It takes three years to learn the basics, first feeling, then meridians, and then the art of working with internal energy. It was a whole system, including zazen and do-in for the mind-body.  As part of the training I volunteered at two hospitals treating cancer and psychiatric patients with shiatsu. After the basic curriculum we learned a zen version of nei dan and we're still learning  it (even if the school is hanging on by a thread due to the situation now). 

 

Through learning we treated each other. I felt my own body and I've touched hundreds of bodies, and learned how to feel, really feel, feel with my eyes, feel with my ears, feel with my heart, feel with my awareness. I learned to trust the art through the people I worked with, they gave me such wonderful comments,  and they also started feeling the energy and asking questions. Especially the hospital patients, I thought I was helping them, but it was them who helped me. They were so raw in their vulnerability, my heart expanded and I started getting feelings of love for random strangers. 

 

It took my hard head some time to realize I could turn the teachings toward myself. My teacher, in good asian fashion, only taught us so far, and he left the rest up to us. I think out of the group of students only two or three of us really continued with the internal art. I ran into a book that described a system based on what I learned, it's obscure poetic references made sense to me in a no-sense way. I had to see it from outside, and it all clicked in place. I developed a steady sitting practice, and started working with the energy rather than against it. 

 

One day, sitting quietly in my terrace, I bonded with a tree in front of my house, and relief flowed through my veins, the wild energy came to rest in my lower belly. It was the beginning of pleasure, and intensity, again the intensity, but this time so smooth so delicious. Along with beautiful feelings of love, often for random people in the street, or for a plant, or for a bird, or even for a stone. It's often challenging, the energy seems to have an intelligence of its own, and I should listen or else...

 

I still often have the feeling that I'm walking on a knife edge, but it stopped being a problem and became a wonder. The dreams have continued,  along with a lot of mystical experiences that just cannot be explained. Now the intense physical feelings are exhilarating rather than painful. I've learned (still learning) to walk in dreams, and make use of them. I've faced my base emotions over and over again. I've had to let go of the idea that things need to make 'sense' or be controlled.

 

I'm still navigating this new world that has opened up to me, I still make mistakes, but now, at least when I make a mistake I know quickly that I've made a mistake. I feel that this is just the beginning, there is so much to explore....

 

In summary these were the things that make the big difference in working with this energy:

-NUMBER ONE:  Taking care of my spirit - art, beautiful music, walks among trees, tea with friends, no TV/netflix, careful choice of music, I had stopped fb for about a year (now back, but I curate it often). 

- Service to others (related to number one above). 

- Physical exercise that works at the tendon/bone level (it takes at least 1 or 2 years to feel it). 

- A steady meditation practice with one method. 

- Handling my emotions through my organs. 

- Learning to switch emotions at will. 

- Long periods of celibacy (too long maybe....ugh)

- Having a job and physical stability. 

 

My point in sharing this story is that I've been reading posts of similar stories here, where energy is running rampant in someone's body. Wreaking havoc in their lives. So I wanted to reach out and connect, and also shed some hope,  it CAN be amazing if you're willing to walk the path. 

 

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17 hours ago, Arisol said:

I had a dream where I saw myself writing this, so here I am, although I had no plan to write my story here. 

 

I’m thankful you had that dream and have written such a thorough account of your journey. Reading it gave me a strong feeling of comradery with you.  You’ve written with an open heart.  

 

Although I have not had a powerful energy eruption like you describe, it all makes sense to me based on my own more modest qi experiences. And I very much concur with what you’ve written about the healing power of shiatsu.  I trained and worked as a practitioner in Sydney, Australia back in the 1990s.  Learning the meridian / qi-flow model of embodiment fundamentally changed my understanding of health and illness.  

 

If I had the difficult task of naming one thing that has helped me more than anything else amongst the many important learning experiences I’ve had on my journey towards some semblance of physical, emotional and spiritual health, the years I spent learning shiatsu would be a prime contender. I trained with a small group of people under the guidance of a gifted master. His comprehensive teachings included qi style yoga (a form of qigong) and qi-based food theory.  These yangsheng (nourishing life) methods continue to serve me well as the basis for my ongoing inner alchemical practice.  

 

Praise of TCM gets a lot of space on this forum. Nothing wrong with that but it’s far from the be-all and end-all of qi-based healing methods. For many people, shiatsu can well be superior yet, as far as I'm aware, up until your account, I'm the only one who has mentioned it. 
 

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Hi Yueya, 

Thank you for your kind words, I have read some of your posts in the forums, I smile happily when I read about shiatsu. I also have a feeling of camaraderie towards you. 

 

Indeed people here talk more about TCM and almost nothing about shiatsu (or Tui Na). I guess it's just about what's more available or visible out there, or that this forum has a more martial inclination **shrug** 

 

I think what's interesting about shiatsu is that it by-passed the chinese revolution and the 're-education' campaigns of the past century.  In shiatsu, the original teachings mixed in with the Japanese zen way of life, and with Anma (japanese massage, which used to be the trade of blind people).  In a way, the teachings were preserved and transmitted into our modern times. It's not the only tradition where this happened, but it's one of the ones that are still available today. 

 

When I volunteered in the psychiatric hospital, I recognized this wild energy in several of the patients there. I am well aware that that could have been my fate as well. I am grateful that it's otherwise. Meeting my teacher and embracing the practice of shiatsu was/is life saving for me.

 

 

 

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I can relate to so much of what you posted, thank you for sharing your experience!

 

On 1/13/2022 at 1:04 AM, Arisol said:

I thought I was helping them, but it was them who helped me. They were so raw in their vulnerability, my heart expanded and I started getting feelings of love for random strangers. 

 

 

I had a similar heart opening experience. 

Attending a retreat, I was asked to see someone who seemed very sick.

The person was indeed extremely ill and required emergency hospitalization and major surgery.

While waiting for the ambulance in a remote area (over an hour and a half), I could do nothing but sit with her, hold her,  be with her during her very painful and frightening ordeal. Something I'd never really done before in my role as a Western health care professional. Something opened in me that I was able to bring back and integrate into my job. Prior to that, I was in a place of deep burnout. This experience transformed my relationship to my job and my patients and remains perhaps the greatest lesson I've been blessed with in caring for people. 

 

On 1/13/2022 at 1:04 AM, Arisol said:

One day, sitting quietly in my terrace, I bonded with a tree in front of my house, and relief flowed through my veins, the wild energy came to rest in my lower belly. It was the beginning of pleasure, and intensity, again the intensity, but this time so smooth so delicious. Along with beautiful feelings of love, often for random people in the street, or for a plant, or for a bird, or even for a stone. It's often challenging, the energy seems to have an intelligence of its own, and I should listen or else...

 

 

Trees have so much to teach us and offer us!

All of life does...

All we need to be able to do is be very quiet and open, to listen and feel and allow something new to arise, unbiased by our expectations and beliefs.

Sometimes it seems like empathy can be the entire path, in a word.

The only thing preventing us from overcoming the fundamental ignorance that is at the root of our difficulties is connection.

When I attend retreats with my teacher, the message he consistently reinforces is that we get together not simply to gain more information or learn new techniques, but rather to open to each other, to connect with each other.

Mastering the skills of opening, listening, and connecting are what we need to overcome ignorance and grow into our ultimate potential more than anything else, IMO...

 

 

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On 13/01/2022 at 6:04 AM, Arisol said:

Handling my emotions through my organs

Thank you so much for posting, it's great to hear how far you've gone. I'm very happy for you :)

I wonder what you mean by this, I would be happy to learn more about no Netflix/TV as well, was there a specific reason? 

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On 1/13/2022 at 6:04 AM, Arisol said:

In summary these were the things that make the big difference in working with this energy:

-NUMBER ONE:  Taking care of my spirit - art, beautiful music, walks among trees, tea with friends, no TV/netflix, careful choice of music, I had stopped fb for about a year (now back, but I curate it often). 

- Service to others (related to number one above). 

- Physical exercise that works at the tendon/bone level (it takes at least 1 or 2 years to feel it). 

- A steady meditation practice with one method. 

- Handling my emotions through my organs. 

- Learning to switch emotions at will. 

- Long periods of celibacy (too long maybe....ugh)

- Having a job and physical stability. 

 

 

 

What are some exercises that work at the tendon/bone level?

 

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21 hours ago, steve said:

Sometimes it seems like empathy can be the entire path, in a word.

The only thing preventing us from overcoming the fundamental ignorance that is at the root of our difficulties is connection

 

@steveI completely agree, that's a beautiful statement. Thank you for sharing the story as well, I love hearing about those moments that change how a person interacts/ connects or works afterwards. 

 

@-_sometimes about handling emotions through my organs I mean using my body to process emotional/mental states that I don't like, and training it to produce ones that help me. I think everyone does this on some level, there are common expressions like ' take a deep breath' (lungs...), or ' how the heart sighs for love'.... In TCM there are emotions associated to every organ/meridian, and several methods of working with them deliberately, from more external to internal:

- through their meridians and specific points in meridians

- through finding the sound of each organ, (touch an area, make a sound, see what comes out)

- through internal movement of each organ. (example, the stomach burps, so burp to clear anxiety). 

- activating each organ's energies and recognising how they help build/control or release each other (refer to TCM theory). 

 

About no TV/netflix: actually at some point I decided to cut out all external input that wasn't related to my job , and that was under my control (music, books, news, tv, series, shows, social media...). I would add porn here too, personally I never liked it so I didn't watch it anyway.

The thing is that I had a lot of energy and no control over my emotions/thoughs. Raw energy is energy and it will increase what's already there, so if you have some anxiety and add a lot of energy you'll have massive anxiety.  I felt so raw, that everything seemed to hurt me personally and directly. 

Advertising, and tv shows are designed to give you an emotional ride and keep you engaged (distracted). A lot of tv shows cause fear, lack, passivity, and disconnection specifically, and those were not the emotions I wanted to feed. News cause fear, social media is designed to keep your attention.

Now I can stay more in center, or come back to it quicklly,  so I watch a film occassionally, but TV in general has lost it's appeal to me. I did go back to music and books. 

 

 @EFreethought  it's any exercise that will twist a joint at the same time that it's stretched lightly and bearing weight (example: horse stance). Look for spiral movements. So that's most martial arts, some types of dancing, boabom, qigong, tai chi ... 

Yoga, (asana), definitely works tendons and bones, but it was counter productive for me, at least the ones I tried; I know people who love it though. But I really think you ought to do yoga along with the other aspects of it not just asana. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 15/01/2022 at 5:15 AM, steve said:

Sometimes it seems like empathy can be the entire path, in a word.

 

A theme well worth expanding on…

 

[As has been mentioned, the basis of shiatsu is deeply rooted in Chinese cosmology and is informed by the same theory that underpins TCM and Traditional Japanese Massage. If anyone is interested to learn more about this healing art, I suggest searching the web. A good place to start could be here.  Although I consider what I’ve written below to be a vital aspect of any true healing relationship, it lies outside of the shiatsu treatment framework I studied.] 

 

I found the intimacy of shiatsu was naturally conducive for treatment to work on many different levels.  Some practitioners only like to treat on the meridian functional level, and that’s very effective in itself, but others allow themselves to go deeper.  Along with the fundamental shiatsu method of hands-on harmonisation of qi-flow imbalances, my particular interest was in treating emotional and mental / spiritual issues (not anything like psychological analysis, of course).  I liked being able to use the relative wellness of my own being and powers of empathy to help directly reorientate the patient to something healthier.  I found it naturally happened this way to some degree with most people I treated – indeed, I’d call this empathy connection the heart of the treatment – but very strongly with a smaller number of people.  I allowed myself to feel deeply connected with them. Sometimes I could feel their physical symptoms temporarily lodge within me. I could feel those people with me continuously day and night on a subtle level and consequently I could only handle a few connections at a time with this level of intimacy. Their presence didn’t feel like a burden though, rather it felt like a gift of the Dao through which I could give back to other people some of the gift of healing I’d received from various teachings over a number of years; teachings which in various ways showed me the basics of how to live more in harmony with Dao. My goal was always to orientate all my patients towards lifestyles and methods, appropriate to their different circumstances, which would allow them to be their own therapists and not depend on me. And it wasn’t all me giving, I was learning all the time too, feeling my way deeper and deeper into the forces which shape and sustain life. All this happened spontaneously within the realm of subtle qi connection; its ability to flow into me and through me a product of my own personal cultivation, especially the degree I was able to maintain a Zen-like empty mind.  

 

This type of healing is a powerful method for harmonising emotional and spiritual imbalances. I know it’s effective because of the amount of positive feedback I got. Yet it’s also a dangerous method. I can well understand why most practitioners stay clear of this level of intimacy in treatments. What I found as I became more experienced was that I could greatly help people in the many areas I had personally worked through – in these areas I was strong, I had no demons lurking within myself that I was hiding from. But in some other areas that wasn’t the case and I was ineffective as a healer. Without realising it at the time, I was blocking out manifestations of subtle energies which I feared, and the patient feels this as not being accepted in some illusive but essential way. Unintentionally, I thus reinforced the patient in their isolation from Dao which is the root cause of emotional and spiritual illness. And, in retrospect, I can see I was worse than ineffective in a few difficult cases. I fell into the all-too-common error of assuming too much of my own emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I was unaware of significant issues of my own. And in certain cases my issues spontaneously transferred to the patient when they found some resonance within the patient’s psyche. Those people then not only had to contend with their own issues but also to fend off mine. Or, alternatively and even worse, try to accept something totally inappropriate for them. Hardly an outcome I’d wish on anybody, though when I was younger and naively expected more, one I regularly experienced myself from both alternative and mainstream medical practitioners as well as from spiritual teachers. Even amongst those who would like it, few have achieved that illusive ‘empty’ Zen mind. 

 

Using Daoist alchemical terminology which I wasn’t familiar with then, I can see how my treatments combined ming and xing methods, the ming component being the hands-on meridian qi-flow harmonising work and the xing component comprised of working within the empathy field of subtle qi connections. 

 

There’s much more I could add about the numinous wonders and dark pitfalls of empathy connections. It’s an area where Jung’s insights have helped me enormously in making sense of my own experiences.  But I’ll conclude by emphasising how it touches on experiences which lie at the heart of my spiritual path. Working to refine and transmute its manifestations through on-going inner cultivation and real-life experience has been, and continues to be, essential for me in opening myself to that ultimate mystery I choose to call Self. 

 

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Thank you for that Yueya.

I resonate with several points you make, particularly regarding the importance of knowing our limitations and recognizing the unintentional harm we can cause as healers

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On 1/16/2022 at 3:53 PM, Yueya said:

And in certain cases my issues spontaneously transferred to the patient when they found some resonance within the patient’s psyche

 

Indeed, thank you Yueya, what you shared was deep and insightful. It resonates with my own experience as well, practicing the healing arts is a choice that has consequences. My thinking about the topic has changed over time. I see myself more of a 'facilitator' than a 'healer', I help people gain access to their own natural healing power.

 

I think that the words that we use to define an experience shape/solidify an experience and set a definition for the future experiences. I used to think in these terms too, more on the opposite direction as well. I thought that I was 'taking things in' from the people I worked with. This might very well be a way to express it, if I think that I am different to the person I am working with. That there's such a thing as 'your trouble' and 'my trouble'.  I realized, over time, that this assumption means that there's only energy exchange with people that I treat, rather than it happening all the time. Which it does. There is always exchange, some of me stays with my patient and some of my patient stays with me. The more I keep the idea that 'I' is not important, the more I think that this process helps me move towards letting go of myself. I've moved away from seeing it as 'transference' and more as a trigger, seeing an issue in someone I treat makes it come up in me, I think it would come up eventually in life anyway, so I better deal with it when I see it. 

 

It's hard to explain, but now I have a more fluid idea of the exchanges of energy with people/the environment around me. I realized that they happen all the time, even with strangers, in public places, in the train, in a restaurant, with objects, with the air, with the ground... Most of it just happens unconsciously, and I started to gain awareness of it through shiatsu. I was always 'too empathic',  and I felt frayed by the world, and the weight of everyone's emotions, it's the same type of unconscious exchange. The way the exchange takes place is not about what you 'do', but about what you 'are' in a certain moment.

 

So yes, I agree, we need to be cautious to maintain a healthy psyche so we can help people who come to us in a wholesome way, and at the same time, we can't wait to be perfect before we will connect in empathy to the world. As connecting and empathy IS the path, coming back to what Steve said. Helping others, even just connecting to and observing their suffering, is a way to dissolve those invisible boundaries that keep us separate.

 

On a practical note, I do have practices that I take to make sure I 'digest'  or transform all the emotions that come up in a treatment, for both my patient and for myself. Sometimes I don't manage it, and then I know I should dump the excess energy, it works most of the time. There's been times when I didn't manage and I did have to solve some issues in a more worldly way (through fever, food, walking in nature, or a lot of sleep). Yes, there are risks to undertaking this 'facilitator' role, IMO the risks of remaining 'separate' looking for a false sense safety are higher.  I'll take the risk if it means opening up to the world of wonders, the shared heartspace of love. 

 

 

 

 

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A very meaningful thread. Thanks for sharing. Just a few thoughts/questions —

 

  • Did you notice a qualitative shift in your mind once you started volunteering/helping with the patients?
  • Did it (serving others) change your relationship with the pain/fears you were experiencing?  
     

best,

 

dwaI 

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 Hi Dwai,

 

Thank you for those questions, you've made me think about it in a new way.

 

1 hour ago, dwai said:

Did you notice a qualitative shift in your mind once you started volunteering/helping with the patients?

 

Yes, definitely. There was a specific day when I felt  a definite shift.  It was the day before my doctoral defence, I was very worried and anxious about it. I had to defend my work in front of a committee of 8 professors. I was as prepared as I could be so I went to the hospital the evening before. And it was there, I was working with a cancer patient, and I saw him, I really saw him, his delicate body, and his grayish looking skin, and he told us that the treatments had helped him so much through the chemo, and he smiled,  he smiled in his pain, and he was so grateful. And suddenly my thoughts dropped to my heart, I'd read about that before, but you don't know it until you feel it. My heart expanded, and I started to (discreetly) cry, I felt such a feeling of love for this person, and gratitude for my teacher who made the agreement with the hospital so we could do that. It was love, but not romantic love, more like radiating love, love that doesn't need to possess or to own an object. I had a big shift in perspective, and also a physical shift in my body-mind, my heart 'softened'.  In that moment, I saw how petty my concerns over passing/failing the defence were, I realized what a privilege it was to be in that position, however much it cost me to get there. And that either way it didn't matter anyhow, passing/failing was just trivial compared to the experience of writing my research during the 5 years before that. I knew then that the only thing that matters is having known that kind of love, and that feeling of release in my chest.

 

2 hours ago, dwai said:

Did it (serving others) change your relationship with the pain/fears you were experiencing?

 

Absolutely. If anything I would say that the most important part of my practice is service. The one thing that has made the most difference in my journey to health has been opening up to love and compassion, through that service. 

One lady, 92 years old, terminal stage cancer, metastases, refused palliative care and chose more chemo. She knew she was about to die, and she was radiant, wearing earrings, makeup, and a fashionable cap with a flower to cover her bald head, in her hospital bed. 'Dying is no reason to let oneself go', she said. I was treating her along with another classmate, and she made us laugh the whole time. Her example gave me courage to laugh at the idea of my own death and depth of emotions. 

 

I learned that pain and happiness can co-exist.

 

Everyone I treat is my teacher, every body, every heart. Relating so deeply to people is a privilege, I am honored by everyone who has let me work with them, who has opened up their vulnerability to me. Really, it's the patients who motivate me to keep to my practices, to be healthy, to learn, to go deeper, so I can serve better. I saw them smiling through their pain, and this helped me smile through my pain as well, I connected my heart to my mind and as my perspective changed, and my body followed.

 

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