I first felt energy as warm tingling. It was 1991, I was 11, and a friend who loved fantasy novels told me that he felt energy from trees. I tried it. I have no idea if those sensations on that day were energy or imagination, but when I relax and just feel energy, that’s still how it feels.

Over the decades, I’ve developed techniques to observe the details of energy: The pathways that energy follows through the mind and body, the signature of each tissue involved in a healing technique, and more. And those techniques changed the way I perceive energy.

At first, I’d connect to people and trees just to feel their energy, to see what I would notice. And I found that, like holding your breath to listen for quiet sounds, I could hold my energy steady and unchanging and feel the details. Instead of just tingling, I began to feel tinglings that were gentle, sharp, soft, firm, intense, relaxed, and so much else.

In high school, spirits occasionally drained my energy. I learned to feel their connection to me, grab ahold of it with my own connection, and follow it back to them. It was like walking in the dark, running my hand along the wall, following a path I could feel but not see.

When I began healing work in my 20s, I learned to map out the energy signatures of the body. When a friend had knee pain, I would make dozens of connections throughout their knee and feel the energy at each location. A bit like if, blindfolded, someone handed me a sculpture, and I felt each curve and edge, the areas that were smooth or rough, gentle or jagged, and built up a picture in my mind of the sculpture without ever seeing it. I learned to feel around the energy of the knee, feel the rough energy of inflammation and the smooth energy of healthy tissue, and the differences between the energies of bone, cartilage, tendon, and so on that all feel different, but that I don’t have easy words for.

That’s how energy felt for years, like touching a sculpture blindfolded. It worked well. Then last year, I added a new ethereal muscle. It takes the signatures that I’d been feeling and turns them into an image. When I receive that image, it’s less like seeing it, and more like recalling a diagram I once saw. It’s less detailed than feeling the sculpture, but better for taking in the big picture. Then I find the tissue I’m interested in, zoom in, and continue feeling it like a sculpture as I figure out the right energy signature for the healing technique.

And that’s how I expect energy will feel to me for a long time: Like feeling a sculpture in the dark for the smooth, rough, gentle, sharp, and unnameable sensations of the energy of each tissue, with an occasional image to orient my search.

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