Wednesday, May 4, 2011
There might be something to this whole “energy” thing
It seems as if every person living in Haad Thien fits into one of four categories: yoga teacher, massage therapist, energy worker, or a student of one of these three disciplines. Of course, given that Koh Phangan is one of the top destinations in Thailand for yoga and eastern medicine studies, aimed at foreigners, this is not too surprising. I've been practicing yoga off and on for years and have noticed the positive effects on numerous aspects of my life. With regular practice, I found I had more energy, ate less, and in general felt happier, added to the expected increase in flexibility, strength, and svelteness. Despite this, I never really bought much of the philosophy surrounding it, merely practicing the assanas as a physical exercise; this is a common practice in the West, where as many from the East buy into the philosophy, but look at the west's obsession with assanas as quite silly. I never really found chakaras to be total b/s, though merely ways of visualizing the flow of blood through the body and the different centers blood flow seems to effect.
Meditation for me as an activity typically bored me. If I found myself stressed or finding difficulty sleeping, I'd use breathing exercises and meditation techniques to relax myself. For the most part, I considered myself as one who didn't really like meditation. After taking a few yoga classes in India and actually doing some meditation, I realized that I meditate all the time! The type of relaxed state of mind and focus I feel with my eyes closed, focusing on my third eye is same feeling I get from hiking alone in the woods or cooking a complicated dinner. Meditation is not an activity, it's a just a state. Of course, this was no new lesson for me, just merely a change in vocabulary.
So, once I accepted that I've been in fact meditating for a long time, I actually opened my mind to the practice of sitting in half lotus or savasina for fifteen minutes after my yoga practice to see what happened. Sometime, I'd try to focus on the energy of the jungle, attempt to block out everything but the insects and birds or I'd focus on the energy of ocean, only hearing the sound of the waves. This was typically before work and I found that putting myself in that relaxed state paradoxically gave me a burst of energy for the night, as if the forces of nature were entering into me. Again, I attributed this to an increase in blood flow, since both meditative poses keep the body more or less lined up. Surely, it had nothing to do with the fact that the world is comprised of particles, and at a microscopic level, air, trees, people are all made of the same things and in this mindset, there is a transfer of atoms between it all. Definitely not.
But then, suddenly, when I opened myself up to these ideas that energy can be shared, pushed around between people, that negativity can swirl and envelop others in the same ways as positivity, I noticed that it was there. When visiting Guy's Bar, first thing in the morning every Saturday, dancing among the crowds, under the beating rays of the sun, everybody happy, sharing a single feeling, happiness. I knew that there was something there. By this point, the drug heads from the night had left, leaving only the long-termers, the yogis, the hippies, all getting high on togetherness, smiles. I know it sounds cheesy, like a bunch of flower-power BS, but we share energy and we can harness it. Taoists, Hindus, Buddhist, they don't see this as hokey new-age thinking; this is just the world.
Living on Haad Thien, a person needs to be careful differentiating the real world from delusion. One drawback or positive, depending on your open-mindedness, of the place is that many new-age hippie types are actually insane. And in a loving, open place such as this, insanity begins to seem quite normal. People just let themselves out with no worry of judgment. A friend of mine on the island was a veteran of the Iraq War, disabling underwater IED's for many years. Simply put, this damaged him immensly, and he went deep into the rave scene and all that come with it; this may or may not have caused delusions, it's not my business. He was an extremely gifted massage therapist and energy worker who was getting rave reviews from everyone. I've always believed in the therapeutic powers of massage, but energy work always seemed a bit hokey; a closed-eyed person with hands hovering two inches above somebody's body for half an hour hardly seems worth the money.
Well, the day before he planned to leave, I decided to hire him for a massage. At first it started as a pretty normal, better than average massage. It then changed tone, less to muscle work, to more light touch and stretches. Apparently, I wasn't surrendering though; I didn't realize that I had to surrender to anything; he seemed not to be doing much. So, I just stopped thinking about what he was doing and let him do his work. Next thing I knew, I...well, I can't really explain it, but I entered into the deepest meditative state I've ever experienced in my life. Images, dreams, memories from the past, maybe things from the future all flashed before me rapid succession; all of it so fast, I couldn't even grasp it. I knew I wasn't asleep; I could still hear him occasionally convulse from a surge of energy he felt. I know not how much time had passed, it seemed forever and instantaneous at the same time, but I came out of space, lying in savasana, feeling quite dazed. I've gotten into relaxed, meditative feelings during massages before, but I've never completely left my body before, especially when I was barely even being touched.
I told him what happened and he wasn't surprised, apparently this is common when he does energy work. I asked him exactly what he was doing; he explained that he was realigning my chakaras and making the energy in my body flow freely; certain points in the body are connected to memories and emotions by removing energy blockages, streams of visions will come. Whatever went on, it was crazy and changed the way I thought about energy work!
Many of my fears involving a budding romance with my good friend Michelle evaporated that night and went into it with no fears. Since the massage, I have felt as if there was some major blockage in myself that was lifted. It's quite hard to explain.
I'm still not a complete believing in raiki and many other forms of energy work, but as I get older, I begin to see that is some sort of energies that we maybe could once grasp, but somehow over time, we've lost our ability to see it...or believe it. Whatever it is, be it just blood flow or a real, mystical seeming power, many Eastern traditions of thought provide pretty easy to grasp models of what's going on. I know I'll definitely look at these models with a more open mind in the future. Besides, I'd rather listen and believe some robed people right here on Earth than some white-robed thing that lives in the sky.