AND REJUVENATE YOURSELF
During this exercise you may receive surprisingly specific flashes about energy. If so act, on them. These are some my patients had. Jack, a physician in his forties who’s on the go running a hospital cancer unit saw a startling inner vision of a beaming being in white who warned: “If you don’t slow down, it’s time for your heart attack.” No wiggle room there! Jack took the message seriously, has modified his pace. Sue, a young fashion buyer, adored her quick-paced job, but often felt jangled despite enough sleep and down time. When tuning in, Sue’s stomach knotted. Then, in a burst, she saw a re-run of her evenings: “I’m in bed with my husband watching a late night talk show. He leaves for a while. There I am stuck with Jay Leno!” This exercise identified a conflict Sue hadn’t told me or her sweet husband: that she despised having “that unhealthy TV” in the bedroom. Once she expressed this to him, and he understood, the TV got a new home in the den. Now, every evening Sue reads quietly in bed, which relieved her jangled feeling.
Book excerpt from Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength & Love by Judith Orloff, M.D.
The First Prescription:
Awaken Intuition And Rejuvenate Yourself
Buiding Your Energy
Let me tell you a secret that will change your life.It’s about energy, creativity, the rhythms of existence—how their compelling interconnection gives birth to an inner voice so sophisticated it’ll teach you to harness the positive and dispel negativity. Intuition brings magic to traditional wellness approaches, but also opens you to the intriguing realm of energy fields—vibes that radiate from people, places, plants, the night sky. Think of the contagious electric buzz of Tokyo or Rome; the mellow, cool groove of Coltrane’s sax; or the orgasmic surge of applause at Yankee Stadium when the home team wins. Each day you’ll encounter a wonderfully diverse but often unacknowledged range of energies. In this prescription you’ll see how intuition registers them and sharpens your sensitivity to your life force’s fire, showing ways to metabolize and protect it. By awakening your intuition, you can access your full energy. This is the true secret of secrets: I won’t be satisfied with anything less and hope you won’t either.
As a specialist in Energy Psychiatry, and personally, I worship my high-octane intuitions: I owe the blessing of becoming a physician to one. However, at twenty, when an unwavering inner voice told me I was going to medical school, it was the last thing I thought I wanted. Yes, I was the only child of two physician parents with twenty-five physicians in my family, from cancer researchers to gynecologists, a lineage I seemed ordained to join. But I’d never liked science, would get bored around my parents’ doctor friends. At the time I was a hippie living in an old converted brick Laundromat with my muralist boyfriend in Venice Beach. I worked in the May Company’s towel department. Still, as my intuition sank in, it gave me tremendous energy. So, dubiously, I enrolled in one course in a junior college just to see. One course became two, became . . . fourteen years of medical training—a trek that would’ve pushed Indiana Jones to the edge. But my intuition had staying power, provided all the oomph needed to propel me to my calling.
Similarly blessed, my patient Laura literally owes her life to an intuition about energy. A math teacher with moxie, at forty-five she began experiencing a terrible pounding in her ear, diagnosed by a top neurologist as a routine recurring migraine. Despite his reassurance, she kept feeling “an energy like a train roaring through my body screaming something was wrong.” As I heard the dire immediacy of this intuitive warning, I convulsed with chills. I was very afraid for Laura; she had to act. At my urging, Laura sought a second opinion.
I’m all for protesting when something doesn’t feel right. It’s foolish, even reckless to ignore such energy signals. An angiogram was ordered; dangerous blockages in her cerebral arteries were found. This new doctor told her: “The good news is you didn’t have a stroke or die. The bad news is you have fibromuscular dysplasia. You’ll need surgery to keep your arteries from collapsing.” Arteries collapsing? Of course, Laura was terrified, but also relieved to have a possible solution. Then, the medical machine kicked into high gear. Laura’s emergency brain surgery both cured her symptoms and saved her life. For a year, her angiograms have been fine. Now, Laura listens to her intuition like a fiend. She and her doctor agree: doubting it would have proven lethal.
In my Energy Psychiatry practice I advocate a “take no prisoners” style of intuition. This gut-centered voice is committed to your happiness, health, and survival. With practice, you can learn to tune into it. I want you to start listening. Really listening. I guarantee: your positive energy will grow. Why? You’ll be operating from a spot inside that’s juicy, core-felt, authentic—not from an impulse to conform or disown your strength. You won’t be seduced by what may look good but betrays your gut. Intuition is a truth detector. When you deviate even a nanofraction from your inner voice, your energy will wane, whether a subtle seepage or radical bottoming out. The more ferociously faithful you are to this truth, the more energized you’ll be.
Intuition offers a direct line to your life force and also, as I experience it, to a divine intelligence. It’s the language of energy. You need to speak it to thrive, though our techno-crazed society doesn’t recognize this essential fact. At best it equates intuition with a woman’s trait (try telling that to Native American male shamans!). At worst, it’s considered a magic trick or fluff. No surprise there’s an epidemic of worn-down, confused people out there.
Our energy issues are solvable, but we can’t afford to remain deaf to intuition’s messages. Its expertise is energy; its job is to know every nuance of what makes you tick. A master at reading vibes, intuition is constantly tallying: what gives you positive energy, what dissipates it. Your intuition evaluates who you meet, where you go, your job, your family, current events—all crucial data this program will show you how to interpret and apply.
As an Energy Psychiatrist, I train patients and workshop participants to tune into vibes, a skill you’ll learn. I’ve watched thousands of people do it. Consider Gloria, who’s driven a sixteen-wheeler for thirty years: “I can sense the bad vibes of someone’s road rage and maneuver around the aggravation.” Or Janet, a homicide detective: “By shielding my energy, I’m not emotionally destroyed by gruesome crimes.” My friend serving in an elite naval team in Afghanistan told me, “An effective point man catfooting behind enemy lines has to use ‘Spidy Sense,’ like Spider-Man does. It means reading energy, attending to internal alarms beyond the five senses.” Whatever your field, you’ll benefit from intuiting energy too. Get ready to put the Positive Energy Program’s First Prescription into action.
Get in Sync with Your Life
Think of yourself as a spy whose mission is to detect how much in tune you really are with your life—the big picture and the details. Unlike more cerebral methods, intuition offers you the edge of having X-ray vision into all energy matters. Whether revealing the hard truth about toxic relationships, your exhaustion level, or a thankless job, intuition is always trying to communicate, though you may not hear. It resides in a quiet place obscured by the chatter of everyday thoughts. I will take you there.
Prepare to raise your antennae. You’re constantly having intuitions about energy, but may not realize it. Suddenly, bam! A gut feeling, goose bumps, or a flash affirm what fuels or depletes you. Intuitions can be positive. For instance, you’ll feel a burst of aliveness, clarity, or tension lifting about a new project. Or negative—your skin crawls or you wilt at the prospect of a sleazy business deal. In the Positive Energy Program, you’ll get in the habit of intuitively tracking your energy response. (Mine soars around full moons, puppies, and during uninterrupted days of writing alone, but shrinks at the thought of black-tie events, greasy food, and fast talkers.) As I do and teach my patients, you’ll identify information that zings and feels right. By noticing your energy’s fluctuations, you’ll get a jump on where you’re off-center—in relationships, health, and career—so you can change.
Intuition also involves picking up vibes. People and situations can give off welcoming positive energy that invigorates, or oppressive negative energy that repels. Our colloquial language reflects these intuitions. One patient affectionately calls his gangly, six-foot-five brother a “tall drink of water”; another says, “My boss shoots daggers with his eyes.” Sensing vibes provides instinctual gauges of your comfort level.
Techniques for Sensing Positive and Negative Energy
In the mid-eighties when I’d just begun to expand my traditional psychiatric practice to include intuition and energy, I did plenty of experimenting. My good buddy for the first few years of this exploration was Michael Crichton, filmmaker, author, and Harvard M.D. A towering six foot nine, Michael has a wicked mix of intellect and humor with a cynical edge. For me, he was the perfect companion to investigate a dimension of health I’d never heard of in medical school: our body’s subtle energy system.
My world has never been the same; this was my initiation into Energy Psychiatry. I want to share with you our discoveries, and what I’ve been learning since. Being able to sense and direct our life force gets positive energy going: we exude it, attract it, and can read it in others. Our subtle system is the engine that drives well-being. Acupuncture activates energy by placing tiny needles in meridian points in the body. So does exchanging good vibes with people. First, I’ll teach you what energy feels like, a sublime experience that intuition conveys. You may perceive it as colors, light, or positive and negative vibes. This program makes real for you what Energy Psychiatry is based on: that our bodies and spirits are microsystems of energy, and that health is about balance, which intuition helps us achieve.
Friends can be the best coconspirators in charting the unknown. Michael and I set out to experience energy, a real adventure given our “rational” medical backgrounds. We were the blind leading the blind, but so curious. Here’s what we did, an exercise you’ll try later: I’d lie on my back on the floor as Michael placed his palm about two feet from my head. Slowly he’d edge closer until he described feeling “a distinct contour of warmth” inches above me—the halo depicted in sacred art. We all have halos, not just angels. Michael used the same sensing technique to outline my energy field from head to toe. Starting a few feet away, he’d move his palm nearer until he definitely felt warmth, tingling, quivering or pressure, marking an invisible energy border inches to a foot from my body. Then we’d switch places, and I’d practice with him. Michael describes this process in his autobiography, Travels: “I was terrifically excited like a kid with a new toy, a new discovery I didn’t think about, I just kept doing it. I could feel this warm contour just as distinctly as you can feel hot bath water when you put your hand into it.”
As part of the First Prescription, I’d like you to try sensing energy too. This is important because the energy that people exude can profoundly influence your health and mood. Once you know how to read it, you’ll better determine who nurtures or saps you. Practice with a friend: be playful. See how his or her energy feels.
Make Changes NowExperience Energy Through Body Scanning at Home
Sit beside your friend as she lies on her back on the floor or a bed. Together, take a few deep, calming breaths. Once relaxed, observe your friend’s eyes, hair, clothes, then look further. Picture a capsule of light surrounding her body, what Carlos Castaneda calls “a luminous egg.” This is the energy you’re going to intuitively sense.
Start by cupping your hand a few feet over her head. Then slowly come closer. With the palm as your sensing device, notice a point at which you hit a subtle border of heat, coolness, pressure, a hum or vibration—the outer rim of her energy field. Raise your hand, then lower it against the rim until you’re sure. It’s all about feel. You also may see colors. Similarly, continue to map the subtle energy around her entire body, without touching the skin.
When you’re finished, it’s your friend’s turn. Then compare notes.
What a hoot to realize we are more than our physical selves! Each of us radiates a palpable energy. In practical terms: Have you ever sat next to someone at a luncheon and were drawn to her immediately? It wasn’t so much what she said or did, but how refreshing she felt to be around. Or how about that coworker who seemed congenial, but you always left a conversation feeling run down? We are medicine for each other, sometimes good, sometimes bad. An exchange occurs whenever you interact with someone.
Certain people give off positive energy, others negative. It’s the quality of someone’s being, a measure of the love with which they’ve led their lives. It also reflects the inner work they’ve done, their efforts to heal anger, hatred, or self-loathing, which poison us like toxic fumes. Energetically these linger, precluding joy from shining through. It’s important to grasp, however, that once you undertake the process of healing, it changes the quality of even the negativity that remains. Don’t be too hard on yourself—we’re all works in progress.
Signs of Positive Energy in People
- They exude an inviting sense of heart, compassion, and support.
- You intuitively feel safe, relaxed, wanting to get closer.
- They emanate a peaceful glow.
- You feel better around them. Your energy and optimism increase.
Signs of Negative Energy in People
- You experience a sense of being demeaned, constricted, or attacked.
- You intuitively feel unsafe, tense, or on guard.
- You sense prickly, off-putting vibes. You can’t wait to get away from them.
- Your energy starts to fizzle. You may feel beleaguered or ill.
Beginning to differentiate these energies, I was able to name something I’d always intuited: why as a child, within seconds of meeting someone, I knew whether or not I liked them. This knowing wasn’t about looks or how nice a person seemed. Rather, I could sense invisible tendrils reaching out to me from a person that transmitted information about them. It would happen before we exchanged a word. The confusing part for us is that people aren’t always as they appear. Sensing energy reveals a fuller picture. I don’t care how intelligent or attractive someone is on paper, if he zaps your energy, he isn’t for you. True chemistry is more than intellectual compatibility. Beyond surfaces, you must be intuitively at ease.
Make Changes Now
Experience Energy Through Body Scanning In The World
You can practice sensing positive and negative energy everywhere. Have fun. See what you find. The secret is to stand within two feet of someone—whether a coworker or shopper in the mall—and notice how he or she feels. Ask yourself: Am I attracted? Repelled? Unsettled or at ease? Honestly assess: Do I feel more robust or worn out?Establish a baseline for each person. You’ll quickly know who nurtures you. If a loved one is in an arduous phase, try to cut him some slack. But also pinpoint those who consistently drag you down. Then, with a more realistic understanding, you can take better care of yourself.
I’m a big fan of being proactive in generating positive energy. The First Prescription’s formula for success: Do whatever makes your inner light brighter. In other words, try to treat yourself and everyone else with love. It’s a constant process of tuning in: finding people who support your spirit, trusting your gut-centered decisions to guide you. Then you won’t end up in a relationship that looks right but feels wrong. Or miss the chance to meet a loving man or woman because he or she doesn’t fit some preconception. When you’re with trying people, aim for the high road; find common ground rather than inflame negativity (more to come in Chapter 4). The care with which you approach life is intuitively evident in your energy field. We can feel each other’s love: that’s the great attraction. Spread openheartedness around. Stay true to your intuition. Your positive energy will blossom.
Intuitive Empathy: How to Stay Open and not Absorb Negativity
In Energy Psychiatry, my patients use intuition to understand their energetic health, and also to scrutinize their reactions to positive and negative vibes. So much happens to us that remains subliminal—the smile of a coworker; witnessing a devastating three-car pile-up while driving to work; the sight of children skating on Christmas Eve in Rockefeller Plaza—all pass through our consciousness so fast we may miss how each registers. Intuition is a master at bringing our attention to interactions, large and subtle, that modulate our energy.
For many patients and myself, staying receptive to positive energy has been the easy part. This openness I adore lets me live with more gratitude—for intimates, but also for Rick, my wisecracking Bronx-born plumber, and Khalsa, the white-turbaned mail carrier who, rain or shine, delivers packages to my door. The energetic quality of all our connections matter. Every moment seems wildly extravagant. Sipping morning coffee or gazing at the galaxies above, appreciation of positive energy instills wonder in the days we so casually inhabit.
For me, negative energy has taken more getting used to. An intuitive empath as a child, I was so attuned to people’s feelings, positive and negative, that I unknowingly absorbed them. Normally, when you have empathy, your heart goes out to someone in distress. When you’re an intuitive empath, you take on their tribulations. If a friend was upset or physically hurting, in a flash her discomfort would lodge in my body. As I’ve explained, crowded places intensified my empathy. Whereas shopping malls are havens for some, for me they were war zones: I was bombarded by the swarms of people, but couldn’t explain why. An angst-sucking sponge, I coped by shutting down. A teenager in the sixties, I numbed myself for a few years by taking drugs. Finally a wise therapist referred me to a UCLA lab that studied intuition, where I could meet other empaths. What a relief not to feel so out of control or alone. With their support, I developed ways to handle my empathy, to see it as a potent type of intuition, an asset.
To take charge of your energetic health, you must know if you’re an intuitive empath. Ordinary stress is a bear to deal with, but compounded with the angst of our times, it can be treacherous. Like it or not, empaths process all stress in their bodies, are more prone to take in a personal or global trauma’s energetic residue. Vulnerable to negativity, whether miniscule or horrendous, many empaths have chronically low energy, a common complaint that baffles traditional physicians, but is understood by Energy Psychiatry. It’s symptoms include depression, psychosomatic complaints, and overeating. Negative energy arises from people, especially energy vampires (discussed in Chapter 9), places, and situations. Densely populated areas are also negative hot spots. My friend, a magazine editor in Manhattan, can barely inch from train station to office without feeling assaulted by the mobs. Let me be clear: life doesn’t have to be like this. Despite the indisputable negative energy around us, we can learn ways not to assimilate it. I regularly give workshops to hundreds of people who’re courageously healing wrenching emotions from self-hatred to rage, and I rarely absorb any of it. I want to teach you the life-saving skills I depend on daily.
To determine if you’re an intuitive empath, take the following quiz. First, identify the signs. If you answer “yes” to one of these questions, it’s likely you’re being enervated by empathy. Responding “yes” to every question suggests empathy is compromising your energy.
AM I AN INTUITIVE EMPATH?
- Have I been labeled as overly-sensitive?
- Am I easily stimulated and overwhelmed?
- If a friend is distraught or in physical pain do I start feeling it too?
- Am I drained in crowds, going out of my way to avoid them?
- Do I get anxious in packed elevators, airplanes, or subways?
- Am I hyper-sensitive to noise, light, scents, or excessive talking?
- When I see gruesome newscasts does my energy plummet?
- Do I get burned out by groups, require lots of time alone to revive?
Discovering you’re an empath can be a revelation. Putting a name to a very real intuitive experience legitimizes your perceptions. It also pinpoints where you’re losing energy so you can regain it. The beauty of Energy Psychiatry is that it recognizes and treats this phenomenon. I can’t count how many patients have said, “Judith, I thought there was something wrong with me! I felt like such a weakling.” Not so. The problem is that traditional physicians lack the facts to correctly diagnose empathy. Instead of seeing you as an intuitively gifted person who needs proper coping skills, you were labeled “hysterical,” “hypochondriac,” or “complainer.” Because no one knew what to make of your low energy, you suffered.
Throughout this program, you’ll see how intuitive empathy enters into the energetics of relationships, health, and career. You’ll gain methods for staying open and still sustaining energy in a tumultuous world. I’ll offer techniques including centering to on-the-spot shielding. I know well how tempting it is to shut down around unbearable people or events. The danger is that defending yourself becomes habitual. Armor turns into a straight-jacket, restricting spontaneity and love. You don’t want to risk this. Here’s an option: instead of armoring, try centering yourself so negativity can’t weaken you. This strategy will help you enjoy your own energy while remaining receptive. Consider it warrior training. When you cultivate a solid internal core, nothing external can usurp your power.
As a starting point, I’ll share a centering meditation based on the breath which I teach my patients and use myself. I suggest you practice it. Then when negative energy strikes you’ll know what to do.
MAKE CHANGES NOW
BREATHING AND CENTERING MEDITATION
TO BUILD POSITIVE ENERGY
Wearing comfortable clothing, settle into a quiet place with no interruptions--turn off your cell phone, shut the door. Think of it as erecting the cone of silence. Start with a few minutes; gradually increase the duration.
Sitting in a relaxed position, eyes closed, begin to focus on your breath to center yourself. As thoughts intrude, notice but don’t judge them--an ongoing part of the meditation process. Each time, continue to refocus on inhaling, then exhaling.
Breathing activates positive energy. It’s a lifeline to your center, to the earth. With each breath, extend your awareness downward to strata, bedrock, minerals, and soil. Mentally plant a root from your body into the earth’s core. Picture having a long tail which roots in that nurturing center. Allow the earth’s positive energy to infuse and stabilize you.
This meditation is an everyday survival tool. Try it out with a demanding boss, a needy friend, or new trouble in the Middle East. During the heat of the situation keep breathing and planting roots. Being firmly grounded protects you from getting flattened by negativity. Centering is also stabilizing in crowds. For me, airplanes are the biggest test. When I’m jammed like a sardine in economy class, with stale air and perpetual chatter, centering has saved my energy. Anchored by the rhythm of my breath and my rootedness, I’m cocooned from the chaos. With practice, centering becomes second nature. It’s a victory to remain open yet inwardly strong--a style that’s compelling, unexpected. Doing so takes you off the defensive; empathy becomes a pleasure. Visualize this: being surrounded by negative energy but it doesn’t get to you. I want you to know such liberation.
Not everyone has intuitive empathy. If you’re like my friend Linda it’s not a concern. An avid traveler, she’s visited over seventy-five countries in twenty years. No jet lag; her energy stays high. After returning to Los Angeles from Antarctica (a seventy hour haul), she immediately went to a movie! Marveling, I asked, “How do you do it?” “Eye shades, ear plugs, and a good night’s sleep,” she said. Sounded reasonable--if you’re not an empath. Practical tips do ease wear and tear. But clearly, the negative energy I’m so vulnerable to, ear plugs or not, doesn’t faze her. Though Linda is one of the most intuitive people I know, she just isn’t predisposed to absorbing energy. Our constitutions differ. Define your instinctual style of interacting with the world so you can honor it.
THE ART OF PACING YOURSELF
Over the years, throngs of discombobulated patients have come to my office. Mothers, actors, teachers, dog groomers, each with their own reasons why life is out of whack. In Energy Psychiatry, with everyone I address pacing: a basic energetic rhythm I train my patients to intuitively sense. Just as heart beat and respirations tune our physiological tempo, pacing sets our subtle energy clock’s timing. Often we get caught in extremes. Before this program, my patients typically either tore around like maniacs or were at loose ends when things quieted down. I try to help each one achieve or at least approximate a pace that suits them, whether fast, slow or in between. As a physician, I’ve long ago learned to give up preconceived notions about what rhythm is right for people. No one pace fits all.
Early in my practice, I discovered this the hard way. Izzy, in good health at sixty-eight, came to me weighing retirement. For thirty years, he and his brother, children of Jewish immigrants, had run a successful furniture business. A real character, Izzy was known for his big heart, but also as a rabid complainer. In sessions he’d swear, “I tell you, Doc, the aggravation at work’s gonna do me in.” Naturally, an ernest novice physician, I’d ask, “Why not slow down a little, or retire?” For a moment, he’d be silent, mulling it over. Then, he’d wink at me, eyes strangely radiant, and say, “Nah, honey. I’d have too much time on my hands. I’d miss schmoozing with my customers.” Still, Izzy’s well-meaning wife and brother grew alarmed by “that much stress at his age;” convinced by his complaints, they got Izzy to retire. I supported their decision, though something off about it nagged at me. Three months later, his wife called, weaping: “This morning Izzy dropped dead from a heart attack. I found him slumped over in the yard with a gardening book in his lap.” I was in a shock of remorse. All I could think was, “Oh God. By pushing him to retire, we killed him!”
In retrospect, I believe that Izzy’s job, aggravation and all, fed his life force. I regret not urging he remain at the store at least part-time. Back then, I hadn’t yet incorporated intuition into my practice nor did I read energy. I couldn’t see that the wonderful twinkling in his eyes when he talked about work counted more than his words--or that complaining, for Izzy, was just a tic, not reflecting his true energy needs. I was then easily swayed by conventional wisdom which argued for a universal curtailing of activity for “old age.” Long since, I realized how the best intentions (without the correct information about subtle energy) can cause fiascoes.
Today, as an energy psychiatrist, pacing is the first thing I read in patients, an integral aspect of the First Prescription. These are the kinds of intuitions I sense and what they tell me. When Josie, a designer at thirty came in “to learn to analyze dreams” she was comfortable with her pace. My reading of Josie’s energy concurred. Our life force has rhythm: this is what I attune to. Sensing a well-paced energy field like Josie’s is a delight. It feels like the perfect heart beat, inaudible to my ordinary ear, but palpable to intuition. It also transmits a motion that’s neither sluggish or rushed. My body relaxes around it. In contrast, Tracy, a garden designer, at fifty, came in to improve relationships. Her schedule was busy, yet Tracy was ploddingly obsessive, did everything soooo slow. Not surprisingly her energy field had a weak rhythm, felt hypoactive, like being stuck in molasses This told me that Tracy had the breaks on in her life and relationships, issues we’d address. Finally, John, a stockbroker at forty who suffered depression, hadn’t thought to question his manic rushing around. Outwardly he seemed calm, but his energy field felt jarring, antsy. From this I knew that part of John’s recovery from depression would mean slowing down.
Of all the pacing dilemmas, rushing tops the list for draining many of us. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a violent forward motion; to act with haste...in a short time at a high speed.” Energetically speaking, it’s running on more cylinders than you’ve got. It’s so toxic because the negative energy is cumulative. On perpetual overload, your physiology responds: cortisol, the “stress hormone,” surges; seretonin, a chemical protector against depression and anxiety, plummets. That, in combination with an inevitable diminution of subtle energy completes the downward spiral.
We rush for many reasons. To dull emotional pain. To flee from anxiety, depression, or feeling we’re not enough. In response to unrealistic expectations of what we can accomplish in a finite period. Fear of stillness and silence. Whatever the reasons, rushing is different from operating quickly and efficiently when your rhythm’s in sync with a busy balanced life.
These intuitions give rushing away:
Your energy feels scattered You have little or no awareness of your body You experience a subliminal or overt sense of panic Your ability to listen is impaired, as is memory for details.
For me, rushing is a consciousness shrinking altered state. It blurs into a bad hallucination, as if my energy body fragments and races ahead of itself while the material me is trying to catch up--a tinge of vertigo, a nauseating disconnect. Be certain: rushing steals well-being, must never be construed as harmless.
Even so, I understand how addictive rushing can be. As a medical student at USC, my sixteen hour days were packed with life-and-death emergencies. On call every third night. This grueling pace continued when I opened my private practice. The most maddening part was wearing a pager. Strapped to my belt, it’d go off so frequently I’d catch myself fantasizing it would self destruct. One day, at my accountant’s office, it started beeping when I was going to the bathroom. I reached for it--but not quick enough. It’d slipped off. I’d already flushed. I heard a splash. Aghast, I stood and stared as my pager, still maniacally beeping underwater, disappeared. The absurd pace of my life was never more apparent.
After years of whirling like a dervish, it finally sank in: my energy was being stretched way too thin. Wound tight, I’d get terse, snippy, hurrying myself and others along. It’s hard to be nice when you’re frantic. Worse, I’d drive and rush: more than once I got a speeding ticket zipping from the gym to the market so I could get home to unwind in a tub. I was rushing to relax! Ultimately, I rushed my way right into an energy crises. Refusing to slow down, my body intervened. A profound weariness came over me which lasted nearly year. I was forced to cut back on speaking engagements and other commitments. Doing so made me realize how much I craved the nourishing sense of presence that being in the moment brings.
At the onset of this program, I’d like you to intuit if you’re in sync with a pace that supports your energy (It may vary with cycles, age, or shifting priorities.) Subtle energy-wise, pacing sets the tone for everything you do. I know that when I’m in sync, I want to skip, dance, fly. I’m unstoppable. If my pacing is off my stamina obliterates. Your body is an astute intuitive barometer, the first place to look to evaluate pacing. Start with the “big picture” indicators, then we’ll address the subtler ones. Here’s a general checklist to consider:
When you’re in sync you can experience:
When you’re out of sync you can experience:
- Emotional balance
- Physical stamina
Now, moving on to the more subtle energies, you’ll apply the First Prescription to find a pace you’re most in sync with. I suggest you try the following exercise which involves active self-inquiry: posing a question and receiving an intuitive response. The exercise will introduce you to the intuitive center, known by ancient mystery schools as the Third Eye chakra, a small energetic opening located midway between your eyebrows. Mystics see it as a vibrant purple light. In a quiet state, the idea is to lightly bring your awareness to your intuitive center. This increases energy flow in that area, facilitating greater insight into pacing, or any issue.
- Ongoing fatigue
- Emotional numbness
- Mood swings
- “Psychosomatic symptoms” which may rotate (such as irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, or acid reflux)
- Decreased libido
- Sexual shutdown
MAKE CHANGES NOW
INTUIT YOUR PACING
Part 1: Take Time Out to Tune In
Set aside five minutes or more to be still, an official break from usual thinking. Sit comfortably, eyes closed, and take a few long breaths until you’re relaxed. (Sometimes I’ll do this exercise in the shower, which is like an intuitive phone booth for me; information pours through!) Then begin to inwardly direct your attention on your intuitive center. To help it open, you may also gently place your finger there. (Think of this as revving up an engine). This spot might heat up or form pulsating purple swirls you can inwardly see. Some people feel pressure or a slight headache until the opening is able to accommodate more energy. After a minute or two, ask yourself, “Does my pace feel good?” To find out, stay aware of body sensations or visual flashes. You’ll know if you’re in sync if you get an intuitive “yes.” For me, this feels like a luscious warmth, an excitement and energy in my gut, a wave of goosebumps. Also note any uplifting images or memories, no matter how far-out they seem. Conversely, an intuitive “no” feels cold, my gut tenses. I’m tired, sinking, or rigid like a brick wall. Negative images or memories may also surface. Don’t censor. Just let yourself go. See how you perceive “yes” and “no”--information you’ll use throughout the program. Then get more specific. Ask yourself: How does pacing feel at work? At home? On vacation? With friends? One area may be more balanced than another.
Part 2: Working with Solutions
To realign with an in sync rhythm. Make gradual changes. Focus on one area at a time. Ask yourself: What kind of change would feel good? Focus on small, do-able chunks, not an instant overhaul. Say, your job. Try out ten minutes of a nurturing pace. Savor how that feels. Then build on it. See if your well-being improves. Energy never lies. If you’re a rusher: Let at least a few minutes each day be a meditation on energy focus. Rushing is best reduced in increments. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Attempt to be totally present. Open your senses. Take pleasure in tulips, cascading fountains, the aroma of baking bread. Feel the breeze caress your cheek. Listen well to people. Respond with your full attention. If this exercise feels good, try it daily. Then increase the duration from there. To be really bold, remain timeless for an extended period; remove your watch, and head for destination unknown. What I especially cherish about slowing down is that my sense of humor perks up. There’s room to laugh and get into the hilarious side of people and the world. If you’re on deadline: To survive these potentially oppressive clinches be sure to plan mini-breaks to utilize a quickie subtle energy technique that has saved me. For just a minute, take a few deep breaths while touching your intuitive center--this heightens focus and brings you back to center. If your pace is too slow: Intuitively tune into an activity that brings you joy. It can be anything: ice skating, gardening, volunteering at a soup kitchen. Once that memory is rekindled plan to do it. If the activity makes you happy, begin to incorporate it into your routine. The aim is to jump start positive energy if you’re underperforming or shut down in another arena. Then tune in again to something else that brings you joy. Incorporate that too. One activity sparks others. This will lead to a more vibrant pace.
The key to success is to ease into a new pace. As some of my overzealous patients have discovered, making giant leaps too quickly can sabotage this program. They end up feeling like failures, demoralized, until they emotionally regroup and begin again. Please, no grand gestures. Just start moving in the right direction. This sends a positive message to your life force. Don’t worry if you slip into old habits. We all do. Every minute you’ve succeeded renews vitality and awe.
Excerpted with permission from Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength & Love by Judith Orloff, M.D.
by Judith Orloff, M.D.
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