We don’t often think of energy work as wellness. I suspect most of us think of wellness as what we eat and how we move, but that’s only part of the picture. Our emotions and feelings are also part of wellness, and they have a large impact on how we feel on a day to day basis. The one thing that connects our mind and body is energy. It’s the electrical impulses that travel along the vagus nerve, through our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and activate our muscles which cause us to move, breathe, digest our food, or even have a muscle cramp.

Energy work can be a part of your wellness work because it especially works to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. When we focus on our breath, when we turn inward and focus on our body, we are telling our parasympathetic nervous system to activate. We are alerting our internal systems that it’s safe–we don’t have to run away from a man-eating tiger or jump out of the way of a speeding car. And if you find yourself in that kind of situation, then I hope you take action, not pause to breathe!

Energy work is a supplement to movement and wellness initiatives; it does not replace them. However for me, I find whether it’s meditating or aligning my chakras, reiki or the Epona Energy healing modality I’m developing, it all helps to reduce my anxiety and help me relax. Tuning into my body through energy work affects my mental health in a positive way, and for my chronic pain conditions, it helps me to manage, and sometimes reduce my pain levels. It also helps me to accept the pain, so that I don’t dwell on it, which is the power of mindfulness based approaches.

It’s easy to give a knee-jerk reaction to energy work, especially when one starts talking about charkas, energy pathways, reiki, or energy healing. If you are used to thinking of those things as “new age”, in a way which is packaged and sold by many in the new age industry, then there will be an offhand dismissal of them. However, by realizing that these things are tied into centuries old beliefs from India, China, Japan, Korea, and other parts of the world, and the science underlying the mechanisms by which they work, then it’s easier to see them as part of a buffet of tools for wellness, tools from which you can choose if you like.

I hope to introduce you to more energy work if you’re not familiar with it, and look at it from a scientific standpoint as well as a personal and experiential one.

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