“Energy follows intent.” If energy healing had a meme, that would be it. It sounds insightful and intuitive.

Here’s the problem: It’s (often) wrong. Energy often doesn’t follow intent.

Think about throwing a baseball. You look where you want the ball to go (your intent). You throw. If the target is a few paces away, you’ll probably succeed.

But to throw a 90 mile per hour fastball? A curve ball? To hit a tin can a full city block away? You need more than intent. You need technique.

Same with energy: Energy follows simple intents. But complex goals require something more.

Energy follows simple intents

Here are some intents that energy will usually follow:

Intending to build energy in your body, move it to your hand, and send it to a friend.

Intending to open to an energy source and channeling healing energy to a client. (Whether you call that energy source “The Universe,” a “matrix,” an “egregore,” or “ethereal software.”)

Intending to remove a distraction from your thoughts and return your focus to your body.

Note that the third example is about attention and cognition, not chi. For the rest of this post, I’ll only be discussing chi. If this is distinction is new to you, please see Energy healing: The scientific evidence.

Complex intents require technique

Here are some intents that usually won’t work, no matter how hard you intend and believe:

Instantly cut a person’s pain in half.

Stop a migraine.

Reverse arthritis.

In essence, intent is like asking the energy to do something, but in these situations the energy doesn’t know how to accomplish that intent.

When Tiffany was unable to help her mother’s stomach ache, the problem wasn’t a weakness of her intent. The problem was, the energy she was channeling wasn’t effective for stomach aches.

But for years, she’d been told “energy follows intent.” So she assumed there was something wrong with her, which took her away from her healing path for years. (That’s why I’m writing this post.)

Making complex intents work

For years, I avoided situations where my energy could fail. Or rather, where I would know my energy had failed. I only tried to feel energy with my eyes open, knowing what I should feel. I did healing work with no expectation of reliability or concrete results. I kept myself safe, in a way that seems very common.

Then in 2016 I started Energy Dojo, where we play blindfolded energy games. I started looking for reliable, obvious results in my healing work. In short, I found places where my intent wasn’t enough, then developed techniques to solve those problems.

Here are a few examples:

Feeling Energy

Yes, even for something as fundamental as feeling energy, intent isn’t enough.

Every class I teach includes this game: Blindfold your partner and send energy to one of their hands. Don’t tell them which one, and don’t touch them. Using only your energy, get them to feel it.

It turns out, most people get 50% accuracy when they start. Even people experienced with energy. That’s the same accuracy as random guessing, meaning they’re not really feeling energy.

Intent doesn’t help. Repeatedly trying and intending harder doesn’t help.

Here’s what does help: A technique. Once people start engaging their energy in a new way, focusing on making it quiet, their results improve. With practice, students often get 90% accuracy or better across a good number of trials.

Quieting your energy is about as simple as moving your energy. Intent is enough to quiet your energy.

But that’s the point: We need to understand how to achieve our complex goal (perceiving energy) as a series of simple intents. In this case, that series is (1) engage your energy, (2) quiet your energy, and (3) bring your attention to the places in your body you might receive energy. Once we have that series of simple intents, we can start getting results, focus our practice, and improve our skills.

(More on engaging and quieting your energy.)

Calming Nerves

Feeling energy was a beginner example. The complex goal broke down into three simple intents that you can learn in an afternoon.

For an advanced complex intent, let’s look at a new technique I developed this year: How to calm nerves signaling chronic pain.

I specialize in arthritis. Most of my clients have chronic pain, often severe, 7/10 or higher. When nerves send a pain signal constantly, they can become hyper-sensitized, like a hair trigger. This healing technique is designed to calm those nerves and get them to stop signaling pain so easily.

Today, now that I’ve worked out the technique, many clients have their pain drop by 4 points in a couple of minutes.

It took months to develop. I want to share a few highlights, to illustrate what I mean by complex technique:

I start by reading the energy of the client’s nerves. This technique is itself made of complex techniques that I’ve practiced hundreds of times until they became simple:

1. Extend a sensory connection to read the body’s energy. This is the apex of my Level 1 year-long training.

2. Make a network of sensory connections, and find the energy of nerves. This is taught in Level 2.

3. Rather than feel the overall energy signature of the nerves, feel the building blocks of that signature. I teach this in Level 4.

4. Identify the parts of the signature that are different than a non-chronic-pain nerve. (Levels 4-8.)

So that’s just how to read the energy of a nerve. It’s a series of complex steps that I’ve done hundreds of times. At this point, doing all that is easy. All of that is step one of this new technique.

Second, I planned out all the parts of the signature to adjust: The parts that are different from a non-chronic-pain nerve, along with the parts of the signature related to those parts. This was the new detail, specific to nerves, that took time to test and understand.

When first developing the technique, I missed some of those related parts of the signature, and a few clients had their pain increase. I mention this because it’s a case where intent absolutely wasn’t enough: I intended their pain to decrease, but because I applied the wrong energy adjustment, my intent didn’t count for anything. That energy signature causes pain to increase, whether I intend it to or not.

(I was able to reverse that in seconds by removing the energy. Then I adjusted the energy, applied it, and their pain dropped as expected.)

Third, I program that energy into the ethereal software (the energy source I use), connected it to the nerve, and turned the energy on. This keeps the healing energy flowing to the client for several weeks, and is a key reason my clients only need one session a month.

Again, each of those steps itself a complex technique.

Complex techniques build on one another. I develop a technique, practice it until it’s easy, then use it as a step in an even more complex technique. In the end, we get a technique that is bringing pain down by 4 points in a couple of minutes for many clients.

Today, my work is in automating the adjustments I make and programming those adjustments into the ethereal software. Once that’s done, my students will be able to simply connect to a person’s nerves, intend to calm the chronic pain, and the ethereal software will send the energy to the nerves.

Which brings us to a more accurate understanding of what intent can do:

A better understanding of intent

Two types of intents are simple:

1. Moving, quieting, and other basic intents with your own energy.

2. Intents your energy source knows how to fulfill. For example, most energy sources seem to have energy designed for inflammation.

With those, energy will follow intent, and all you need to do is open yourself to the energy and let it flow through you.

But for anything more — for feeling energy blindfolded, for working with medical conditions, for making healing energy last weeks instead of days — it requires a technique.

For practitioners: Understanding intent will help you understand your tools. Knowing what your energy source can and can’t do will help guide you in knowing who you can help.

And for advanced practitioners, by shifting our focus away from intent and toward new ways to read and adjust energy, we can develop the next generation of energy healing and help far more people.

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