When practicing energy awareness, you are it!
You are the energy and you are the sensing instrument. The beauty of this is there is no way around the fact that in order to practice energy awareness, you simply have to be present in your life and present with your presence. For that very reason, the endlessly fascinating practice of energy awareness is a generous practice of self-care.
The Heart of Self-Care
Energy awareness means becoming familiar with yourself. At the heart of self-care is the ability to know what fuels your best life, and equally important, the ability to know what doesn’t fuel your best life. This makes sense, right? Deeply knowing what fuels your spirit—and what doesn’t—is an effective guide to making life choices.
It really is as simple as that.
And yet, as most of us know, this is not always the easiest thing to do. This is because knowing what fuels your best life is not an intellectual process; it is an intuitive, body-oriented process. This intuitive process means being able to listen to one of the ways intuition speaks, which is through your body’s subtle energetic messages.
Another, maybe not-so-obvious reason energy awareness helps you care for yourself is the stillness and inward focus required to sense the more subtle energetic sensations that are inherently calming and centering. Where your attention goes, your life force energy goes.
Stillness and inward focus help keep your attention, your vital life force energy, at home in your own body, in your own being-ness. And, this is what keeps your proverbial cup full to overflowing. Spiritual life coach Iyanla Vanzant says this beautifully: “What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine. I have to keep my cup full.”
We all need to keep our cups full.
A Way of Being
If you find yourself in the “I wish I was better at self-care” club, you are in good company. The fact that most of us as adults are just now learning to listen to our intuition and practice self-care tells us the teaching of this intuitive practice of subtle body energy awareness is not common in our culture.
Combine that lack of teaching with the fact that most of us have not had very good modeling of meaningful self-care, and it is easy to see why this intuitive practice of listening to your body’s energetic messages can seem unfamiliar.
It’s easy to give self-care a quick glance—to treat yourself to a Starbucks latte, get a mani-pedi, or maybe even make time for a yoga class—yet, while every act of kindness absolutely counts, in your heart of hearts I’ll bet you know that self-care is more fundamental than an occasional act or treat. It is a way of being, a way of living.
If you find your ability to hear your body’s messages is somewhat dormant, that’s OK. Many of us need encouragement to wake up the senses we need to hear those subtle energetic messages. These senses are really a deeper, more finely tuned version of your basic five senses. And, as with any skill, you get better at sensing subtleties with practice.
Here’s a question worth pondering: Wouldn’t you think we would all jump at the chance to practice something that opens endless opportunities to a more meaningful life?
But, we don’t always jump at the chance, because listening to one’s body’s subtle energetic messages requires one to turn awareness inward and get still. So many of us are dodging getting still enough to sense these clues in the same way we would dodge a swarm of bees! If not physically, then metaphorically. Anything but stillness, we seem to say.
Honestly, in my healing-and-coaching practice, getting still is the basic life skill every client seeks. It is in this stillness that your body’s energetic messages for living your best life are found. You can think of sensing these messages like the hot-cold game you may have played as a kid, the one where someone looks for something and the other says, “You’re getting warmer” or “You’re getting colder.” Your body sends out signals that tell you when you are getting warmer or colder. Warmer feels true. Colder does not.
A tricky thing about stillness is it means making friends with not knowing. This can be a little daunting if you like to have your life under control. The beauty of the practice of energy awareness is your attachment to certainty softens while you become more able to not know and to enjoy an open curiosity.
This is always your best starting point when you practice energy awareness. And, remember the energy you are becoming more aware of is your own. What you are practicing is for you, for your life, and for your self-care. You are worth every moment of your attention.
Energy Awareness Practices
Your practice begins with attention to breath. Stillness is found in your ability to take a moment to rest in your own presence. There is a natural still point, a pause, a lingering after your exhale that allows your next inhale to happen in its more natural, more centered and more peaceful way. That more natural inhale informs your nervous system that all is well.
This is the antidote to what is often a habitual gasp-and-hold, shallow breathing pattern that keeps you in high-alert mode. So, after your next slow exhale, pause and let the back of your throat rest. Simply sit in the nothingness of the pause until your inhale wants to happen.
As you practice this, let your pauses lengthen. You are now ready to play with being aware. Let’s start with your eyes.
You can think of your eyes as avenues for your energy because that is exactly how most of us use our eyes. They are a sensing part of our system, and it’s not uncommon to use vision as a way to scan the environment, in an attempt to know how to be. This is a survival mode.
Surviving is a wonderful thing, a fabulous thing, until the habit of it prevents actual thriving. Mostly we use the energy of our eyes to scan in attempts to know how to be safe, how to be acceptable, how to be whatever it is our survival mind believes we need to be. This scanning is an outward projection of awareness and energy. When this takes place, it means there is less life force energy in your own body, less of you in your own life.
Thankfully there is an antidote to this, which is to allow your eyes to rest as you imagine the energy and weight of your eyes settling in your head. While you are resting in the breathing pattern of lingering in the space after your exhale, begin gently bringing awareness to your eyes as you begin noticing the space they occupy.
Sensing your vision softening as it rests very close in, imagine your vision is more welcoming, more receptive, allowing life to meet you rather than you seeking it. With your awareness close in and restful, your life force energy is now more available for you. This is being available for life to meet you. This is you filling your cup.
You can play with moving back and forth between restful eyes and scanning eyes. There is a subtle, and yet significant, energetic difference between being available for life and following the misguided belief that you need to seek it, or go make it happen. This simple practice of allowing your eyes to soften and rest helps soften that belief and softens energetic constrictions that come from living in survival mode.
Now let’s bring your feet into this experience. From a standing position, while you are resting in the breathing pattern of lingering in the pause after your exhale, begin noticing your awareness is shifting into your feet as you are allowing the weight of your body to drop into your feet, into your heels in particular.
You feel your weight in your heels while keeping your whole foot in solid contact with the ground. Your knees go a little soft. When your knees lock, it’s like crimping a hose and stopping energy from flowing freely. Softened knees and shifting your weight just ever so slightly back into your heels allows your energy to move more freely.
You Are Here
This is you taking up space. This is you telling yourself and the world that you are here. Do you notice you are more present in your body?
As you keep playing with paying attention to your experience, you may want to take a few notes. Your ability to sense subtle energy strengthens with acknowledgement.
While you rest in this breathing pattern, and couple this stance with restful eyes, you are tuning yourself to receive clearer hot/cold clues. What do you notice in this stillness?
This is the place where meaningful self-care happens. This is the place where your intuitive body messages get through. This is you in deeper connection with your true nature, the you who gives you the kind of care you would give to anyone you love.
This time, in this restful and aware place, you are the one you love, filling your own cup.
As a dean at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, a certified Martha Beck Life Coach, energy practitioner and hospice volunteer, Ann Dionne helps clients and students find peace from the inside out. She makes her home south of Chicago, Illinois, with her lifelong love, Rex, and his two cats. She wrote “Keep Your Boundaries Clear with Stillness” for massagemag.com.