Current Update as of July 05, 2004
Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies
Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
Book Digested by Lorrie Kazan
The message of Positive Energy is to be mindful and from mindfulness comes a new kind of freedom, both in knowing one's self fully and in being completely present in one's life.
Dr. Judith Orloff is a practicing psychiatrist, author, lecturer and empath. The book opens with the idea that we are all rushing about while being inundated with information/energy from faxes, TVs, cell phones, and random vibrations from all over the world. We've numbed ourselves in order to function in an environment that rewards striving and accomplishing.
Dr. Orloff uses the phrase "Energy Psychiatry" to describe her work. Energy Psychiatry differs from other energy medicine because it is not based in a chiropractic understanding of the body, but in a tradition of empathy, mindfulness, intuition and psychiatric knowledge.
Her intent is to help readers become more sensitive to themselves, other people, and the environment. "...There's an energy field, or vibe emanating from everything we encounter, from foods to friends to current events. How we respond to these vibrations can enliven or undermine our senses of vitality. Subtle energy can be described as chi, mana, prana, and has been valued by other cultures for eons. If we are more sensitive to the subtle, ultimately we will have more power in tending and maximizing our life forces."
Dr. Orloff provides ten prescriptions, which lead to enhanced well-being. The first seven prescriptions are about building your energy and the last three detail her methods for "Creating Positive Relationships and combating Energy Vampires." Chapters include exercises and suggestions to help the reader obtain a richer experience. If you are already an intuitive empath, it will remind you to value the depth of your own gifts.
First Prescription: Be aware of energy.
Intuition is the language of energy, a direct link to the God force and ourselves. To remind us what energy feels like, she asks us to sit beside a person who is lying on the floor. We then cup our hands a few feet above the person's head, bringing the hands in closer or drawing them back as we feel the warmth and texture of the energy field. She advises us to observe the friend as we scan her energy so that we can be aware of visual cues, such as changing colors of an aura.
The idea is that once you know something no one can take it away from you and once you've experienced feeling energy vibration, you can take that out into the world and notice your subtle reactions to people, places and things. Once perception has begun, it's quite likely to increase.
A first step is to determine your sensitivity level. Are you an empath? "...Empaths process all stress in their bodies, are more prone to take in personal or global trauma's energetic residue. Vulnerable to negativity, whether miniscule or horrendous, many empaths have chronically low energy...." Empaths experience "intuitive overload" which causes depression, psychosomatic symptoms and addictive behavior. A questionnaire is included to help the reader determine whether this is an issue.
If you are an empath, you absorb everything and you may have learned to practice maladaptive patterns, such as overeating to shut things out. Her counter technique to armoring is centering.
Centering Meditation: Sit in a quiet and relaxed space, maintaining consciousness of the flow of breath. Breathing is the lifeline stressed throughout this book, and is certainly the basis of mindfulness from which she draws much of her information. Extend the breath downward, picturing it going deeply into the earth's core. Imagine a root from your spine going deep within the earth and drawing its nourishment.
"When we do too much multi-tasking, we end up energetically floating above our body rather than fully inhabiting it, a limbo that promotes chronic drain."
Second Prescription: Find a Nourishing Spiritual Path
Meditate, pray, incorporate silence, let go, and breathe. Awakening the heart is the key to our survival, personally and globally. Giving yourself the gift of spirituality is a radical act of self-love.
Third Prescription: Design An Energy-Aware Approach to Diet, Fitness and Health
By and large, eating disorders are energy-based. This is something Dr. Orloff claims to have discovered but I believe it's an idea that's been accepted for some time. People, especially highly sensitive people, will often eat to ground themselves or block out unsettling energies.
"Extraordinary times require extraordinary health. To actualize the best in ourselves and humanity, our immune system must be robust." This may ring true for many people; for empaths it's a necessity.
Pinpoint your stressors, even the smallest ones. Breathe negative vibes out of your system. Pray to release your craving, take a bath, burn sage. (I would add, if you have an eating disorder, seek out a group such as CEA How, which works the 12-Steps on that issue.)
Find foods that energize your body. Take the time to taste, sense, smell and notice your reaction to each substance. The body and spirit crave high energy foods. For example, would your body prefer an organically grown salad, made with tomatoes harvested from non-hybrid seeds or something processed? What if that salad were made with love, the energy further intensified by the preparer praying over it?
Choosing Foods: Observe the outer appearance, smell the food, sense the vibes, notice how your energy responds to the presence of this food.
Add physical exercise: Find an atmosphere that nourishes you and a form of exercise that feels good to your body. Make it a moving meditation. "Frame exercise time as a holy moment." Endorphins will boost you and new habits will enliven you. We are meant to move, flow and breathe.
Sleep: Find out how much your body needs. Take time to allow for extra sleep; notice whether extra sleep stimulates or decreases your energy. Create a nourishing, relaxing sleep area that induces a sense of peace.
Fourth Prescription: Generate Positive Emotional Energy to Counter Negativity
Write down your fears. Answer them. Tune into deeper truths, pray, make a gratitude list. Visit an energetically uplifting place. Old traumas lodge in our energy fields. Seek out energy work, such as healing massage, or acupuncture.
Avoid absorbing other people's fears. Ask yourself whose fear you're feeling? Physically distance yourself by 10 feet from the person. Use the centering breath described earlier to ground, and inhale calm. Place your palms on your solar plexus and breathe into it, pumping love from your heart.
Release anger, self-loathing and other negative states. Forgiveness frees your energy and enhances your life force. Make amends. Tell the truth.
Fifth Prescription: Heart Centered Sexuality
Find your soul and the rest follows. Heart-centered sexually emerges from the connection with our true selves.
Dr. Orloff stresses that there is no need to surrender sensuality if you're not in a relationship. "When you're sensually in love with all of life (this azalea, that Siamese cat, the foam on a cresting wave), you'll feel more passion, individually and with a partner."
Included in this chapter are a number of exercises for awakening the senses. There is also guidance on such topics as "Repelling Unwanted Sexual Energy." The advice: "Eliminate clear-cut predators, speak up, set boundaries, recruit outside help, don't give negative behavior your emotions, and trust your intuition."
To connect in a deeper way we must release old wounds, strengthen our own health, explore greater self-expression and open the heart. Energetic ties establish between people and with our higher source. This chapter focuses on ways to experience and express this. Sometimes ties between people need to be symbolically cut.
Sixth Prescription: Open Yourself to the Flow of Inspiration and Creativity
Energy and creativity are master motivators. Writing, expressing, creating, being inspired are natural antidotes to depression. To be truly authentic, one should be inwardly moved before executing an action. If one is inwardly connected, the outward expression will simply flow and not require struggle. Dr. Orloff reminds us that "no creative act is insignificant."
Longings are energy. Notice your longings and mindfully investigate and experience rather than suppress them. You can use dream work: for instance, ask a question of your unconscious mind before you go to sleep, and upon awakening, write the dream down. Notice if there is an answer in that dream. Of course, we can even take our dream explorations further but that is not in the scope of this book.
Find your inspiration. Inspiration will catalyze your life in such a way that you become a beacon of light. To find this inspiration, Dr. Orloff combines techniques often used in 12-Step Programs. For example, she suggests taking "an Inspiration Inventory." The intent is to recognize your passions and begin living them.
She breaks the inventory into action steps. The goal is to relish the miraculous, even in the smallest moments. She encourages the cultivation of Zen consciousness so that even the experience of going to the supermarket can become a sacred ritual rather than a burden. "There's no way to be creative and bored," she wisely reminds us.
Spend time in power spots, wherever those are for you, i.e., places in nature, bookstores, museums, etc. Interestingly, we're reminded that observation needn't be a passive act. "You can glean energy from observing art...get ready to receive. Breathe deep." We are always in relationship. The more conscious we are the more we recognize and resonate with subtle energies. Consciousness breeds consciousness. "All art has the power to heal because it helps us see who we are, and we exist."
A sample exercise:
"Make Changes Now: Set out on a Creative Search
Pick a person or place that creatively intrigues you; spend time basking in that energy. Don't intellectualize-feel it. Then see what's stimulated in you. Fresh ideas. Flashes. Dreams. Record them in your journal so they don't evaporate. Next, try an insight out. This is how creativity is born."
Dialogue with the negative inner voices which tell you it's too late or you're too old. Breathe deeply, nurture and console yourself and allow yourself to take creative actions whether the inner voice critiques or not. "The miracle of the mind relaxing is that your body experiences accelerated subtle energy flow."
Seventh Prescription: Celebrate the Sacredness of Laughter, Pampering, the Replenishment of Retreat
We all need breaks. Laughter frees the spirit and infuses us with positive energy. We need to nurture our hearts and respect our subtle bodies. A regular schedule of pampering allows the mind to relax. Regular massages, warm baths, time in nature, creating sacred space.
Eighth Prescription: Attract Positive People and Situations
First, energetically embody what you want to attract.
1. Know your strengths and focus on them. Use positive self-talk to remind you of who you really are and not the façade you came to accept.
2. "Extend heart energy outward." Picture someone or something for whom you feel tremendous love and feel that connection from within your heart. Inwardly ask, "Let love flow through me," and sense the feeling as it moves through you and overflows out into the world. Loving consciousness uplifts the environment. "The kinder we are to ourselves and others, the more love we communicate."
3. Meditate regularly. Consistent meditation will raise your consciousness and overall quality and level of your moods.
4. Commit to emotional housecleaning. Don't let negativity build up. Instead use the tools of psychotherapy, writing, talking, self- exploration.
Become familiar with who you are and how you are. Notice how your body reacts to different people. Are you energized or fatigued in their presence? Take the time you need to observe. "Seeing the beauty and goodness in people magnetizes them....We are all starving to have the goodness in us acknowledged.
Notice which physical spaces empower or disempower you.
Ninth Prescription: Protect Yourself from Energy Vampires
Vampires suck energy. When in the midst of them, you might feel tired, compulsive, or drained. Vampires are generally unconscious of the damage they inflict. They often suffer from an unquenchable need to be fed due to energy leaks that developed during a neglected or in some way disruptive childhood.
Common Vampire Methods:
1. Sob Sister: Perennial victim and complainer
Antidote: Set clear boundaries, limit your available time. If the person is truly someone you value, "lovingly say, 'I really value our relationship, but when you keep rehashing the same points, it wears me out. I can listen for 10 minutes; that's my limit. However, when you want to talk solutions, I'm here for you.'"
2. The Blamer: Constantly barrages you with negative criticism
Antidote: Shield yourself in a cocoon of light.
3. Drama Queen: Lives in emotional extremes. "Typically, her parents equated trumped up disasters with intimacy."
Antidote: Stay calm and set limits. Don't feed the vampire by getting emotional.
4. Constant talker or Joke-Teller: Compulsively talks and is oblivious to body language.
Antidote: Breath into a space of neutrality. Verbally assert something to the affect of, "I am a very quiet person, so excuse me for not talking a long time."
5. The Fixer-Upper: You're always playing therapist or advisor to them. They have so much potential but no commitment to realize it.
Antidote: Explore your own co-dependent needs.
6. Outwardly nice socializer: You notice an energy drain in this person's space.
Antidote: Make a definitive statement such as, "Excuse me but I really have to go to the bathroom." Step at least 20 feet away from the person and notice if your own energy shifts for the better.
7. The Go-For-the-Jugular Friend: Deflates your energy with hurtful and well-placed caustic insults as a way of venting their own envy or unmet needs.
Antidote: Break eye contact. Use breathing exercises. Exhale negative vibes out the back of your lower spine and breathe in sunlight. Bathe, shower, burn sage.
8. Crowds that drain
Antidote: Keep healthy snacks to balance blood sugar, limit your contact and build your tolerance. Step into a quiet space, or find a room with a door, such as a bathroom.
9. Unintentional Sappers: Families, kids, intrusions.
Antidote: Carve out your personal space.
Tenth Prescription: Create Abundance
Appreciate what you have, give generously, volunteer time, tithe money, let go, do good deeds, often anonymously. Realize that we're all tied together energetically so that what you give out mirrors what you'll get back, and then release that formula and give from the generosity of your heart.
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