I first came across the idea of energy protection when I received my first Reiki attunement. Until that point, there were little things I did that accomplished the same ends, such as carrying certain crystals with me, that made me feel empowered or protected. But I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t the only one, or that there are a whole range of protection practices out there. And these things aren’t just for Energy Workers, Mediums or those of us who practice Witchcraft—they can be used by healthcare professionals, highly sensitive people (HSPs), and basically anyone who is feeling shaky, vulnerable, or low on resilience, regardless of belief or spiritual path. To be frank, that sounds like just about everyone I know, these days!
So here are a few of the practices I’ve learned, which have helped me in many different scenarios. Some of these are impromptu “after the fact” quick repairs to help us bounce back and shake off the negativity of others or unforeseen situations. Some are good for preparing in advance, when we know a difficult time is up ahead. And others are for when we spot the signs that we’re feeling stuck, depleted, or need a refresh. I use these myself, and have shared relevant ones with Reiki clients who could benefit from a little energetic self-care.
1. Dry bathing
This is a Japanese form of purification ritual, which is traditionally used by people before going to holy places. It’s also something I use quite a bit if I’m going to give a treatment or start meditating and there’s something I feel I need to let go of, or if I’m bothered by something somebody has said to me. I’ve also used this when working in a small office with a very overwhelming set of characters, who had strong opinions and insistence on talking about subjects which stressed me out would leave me invaded and overpowered. It’s a good reset button for those sorts of things, and can help you to center yourself and move away from stressful busy thoughts, very quickly.
- Find yourself a quiet private space (a stall in public restroom works just fine).
- Take a moment to center yourself and feel present in your own body.
- With your right hand on your left shoulder, briskly sweep your hand diagonally down your torso, to your right hip, exhaling audibly (think yogic breathing, from the stomach).
- Do the same thing with your left hand, in the other direction.
- Repeat 3.
- Now placing your right hand on your left shoulder, sweep your hand down your left arm and hand, briskly, with the same exhale.
- Repeat on the other arm, and then repeat 6.
If you’re a visual person, you might want to imagine dust, or a shadow, or whatever feels right, representing what you want to get rid of, being brushed off your body with this, and exhaling the toxins of stress from the inside of your body, with the breathing. Whatever resonates for you, go with that.
2. Energetic room clearing
If a negative association or stuck feeling is hanging around a room, or just generally in your living space, this is a good way to stir things up and feel energetically refreshed in yourself too.
- Firstly, set your intention to clear the negative energy. You could simply think or say a few words to the effect of “I banish and remove all negative energy and stagnation from this place, and bring in refreshed energy, love and light” or “Out with the old, in with the new” or whatever works for you. Or you could just get started.
- Opening a window is a good way to start, as it blows away the cobwebs, and brings in fresh air. If you like (and if you have any on-hand) you could light an incense stick (carrying an ash catcher underneath it), some palo santo or smudging bundle, and waft the smoke into each of the corners of the room, the four corners of the window, the doorway, and any other rooms you feel inspired to do this in. You might want to draw a heart, a smiley face, star or moon or another positive symbol (or even your initials) in the air with your lit incense, or walk the pattern on the floor. Go with your intuition—this is for you, and it can feel really empowering to create your own ritual like this. It doesn’t have to mean anything in particular or be explainable, it just has to feel right/good to you.
- Get out that duster and your vacuum, and give your room a good old spring clean! Make your ornaments shine, and take the time to make your room sparkly, with gusto! This also gives you a bit of a workout, an achievable goal with instantly noticeable results, and a sense of accomplishment, not to mention the lovely fresh feeling the room’s energy will have, afterwards!
- If you want to super-charge your space’s energy refresh, you could try rearranging the furniture or ornaments—just a tweak or two might be enough for you to end up with a whole new feel to your surroundings (which is no bad thing, when we’re all spending way more time than we’re used to, in the same space).
3. Yin & Yang meditation
(you might want to pre-record an audio of this visualization for yourself, in advance)
For when you’re feeling energetically depleted, low, or out of touch with yourself.
- Take a few moments to center yourself. Find a comfortable, relaxed, upright sitting position, so that your head feels like it’s resting effortlessly on the top of your spine, and your weight goes down through your sitting bones.
- Close your eyes, and send your awareness to your breath. Breathe in to the slow count of 4, and out to the slow count of 6. Repeat this a few times, until you feel your breath is settled. Then return to normal, gentle breathing.
- Imagine strong roots going from your feet, down into the earth, spreading out into the soil, rock and sand, anchoring you to mother earth. Imagine these roots drawing up nourishment, goodness and love from the earth into your body, all the way up to your center, just below your naval.
- Now imagine a golden thread coming out of the very top of your head, going up to the sky, holding you upright, connecting you with the bright wide energy of the sky. The sun sends its warm, golden light down your thread, through the top of your head, gently traveling down your body to that space just below your naval, and meeting and joining with the earth’s energy.
- The two energies support and nourish you—you are part of them, and they are part of you. You are connected with the earth and the sky, and you carry their power and energy with you. You are strong, resilient, and present. You carry the energy passed down to you by your parents, and their parents, and all of your ancestors since the dawn of time. They all stand behind you, supporting you with their energy.
- Sit awhile, feeling the energies within you, and sense your connected-ness with everything, and the natural balance of the universe within you.
4. Energy protection visualization
For those times when you feel raw/resilience-depleted, if you know you’re going into a situation which is hostile or overwhelming, or if you have a non-dangerous scenario coming up that you want to get out of (but can’t).
- Sit quietly for a few moments (if you can) with your eyes closed, and focus on calming your breath (you could use step b. from the Yin & Yang meditation).
- Picture yourself sitting inside a transparent bubble of light or a large egg-shaped protective shell. These can be white, blue, purple—any colour that empowers you/calms you or symbolizes something positive to you.
- Your bubble/egg keeps you safe and protected from all external factors. It has tiny holes in the bottom of it, which allow negative energy you want to let go of (including worries, other people’s projections, and any emotions or thoughts you want to release), flow out, down into the earth to be transformed. You can stay safe inside this protection for as long as you like, and envisage it deflecting everything you want to avoid, away from you and back to where it came from. It only allows positive intentions, love and positive vibes in to reach you.
- Once you feel ready, picture the protection dissolving away.
5. Boundary rituals/visualizations
This may be something you’re already doing. For people who work in health & social care, or are in other situations where they have to shift quickly from the very strong emotional dynamics of one conversation to a completely different set of dynamics, this kind of practice can be a very helpful coping tool. It can also be useful for those of us who are currently working from home, to separate working time from “home” time, to help us properly switch off, and avoid burnout.
There are a number of different approaches for this. Some people imagine that when they walk through a doorway, there’s a force-field which keeps the energy of that conversation or scenario within the room they’ve just left, or that they’re walking out of one scene in a film into a different one. You could apply this to the door of your study, or you might imagine an energetic boundary around your desk or sofa, so when you need to change your mindset, you could stand up, and physically step outside of the energy of that space.
Some people also have a ritual which symbolizes to them that the working day is done, as a tool to leave the worries and thoughts of work, at work. This could be something like packing away their items into their desk, or removing their work badge and locking it away—to avoid bringing elements of their work role home with them. If you’re working at home, this could be something like powering off and putting the laptop away, or closing the curtains. Or even taking a shower or changing clothes. My first ever Summer job as a teenager, was working in a factory, and by the time I’d get home, I’d have picked up the horrible smell of the factory, and felt pretty numb and dehumanized. My evening ritual was to have a kelp-scented bubble bath every day after work, to enjoy the ozoney fragrance of the ocean, wash off that work smell, change clothes and then I’d start to feel like myself again.
6. Recharging our energetic batteries with mother nature
Going into nature has always been my refuge. I feel a pull to go and spend time there, deep in my soul, and from being a kid, whenever I’ve had something tough to deal with, get through, or heal from, I’ll go to the woods or the river or the mountain, and commune with nature in that place. It always heals me deeply on every level, and I feel most at peace at home, and truly myself, when I’m there. I suppose in a way I’ve been doing Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing for as long as I can remember!
Scientific studies have shown that exposure to nature (or even representations of nature) has measurable benefits to people’s health and wellbeing. In one study, hospital patients in rooms where there were photographs of beautiful natural scenery recovered more quickly than those staying in rooms with bare walls. Another study by the University of Illinois looked at Chicago inner-city residents whose public housing blocks had green spaces and trees, compared with those whose housing blocks had no green space. In areas with trees, people reported feeling more connected to each other and the community, and there was a marked reduction in crime rates, too! In other studies, fMRI machines showed that looking at pictures of nature activated the “empathy” and “love” areas of people’s brains, whereas pictures of inner-city built-up areas lit up the areas associated with fear and anxiety.
It makes sense—we’re all part of nature, so spending time in natural places that remind us (unconsciously or consciously) of the inter-connectedness of all life, can have profoundly beneficial effects on us. In fact, even the development of sentence structure (or syntax) within human language (previously thought to be a uniquely human trait) has been discovered to have evolved in some bird species. We belong to the natural world much more than we think. So spending time in nature is like coming back to reality, from the fabricated “always on” existence that so many of us live within. No wonder it feels so nourishing! Rumi described this longing to return to connectedness with nature:
“Birdsong brings relief
to my longing.
I am just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!
Please, universal soul, practice
some song, or something, through me!”
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or yard with a lawn, standing barefoot in the grass or hugging a tree can be a lovely way to come home to nature, let go of stress, release those endorphins and boost our energy levels and wellbeing in general. Or if accessing natural spaces isn’t possible for you right now, tending our indoor plants or even just looking at a beautiful natural scene online, on a piece of wall art, or even on our computer’s wallpaper, can be pretty effective too!
Take care of yourselves, Dumplings. We need to be especially kind to ourselves right now. Don’t forget that whatever you’re feeling will pass, and that we are not our thoughts. I’m trying hard to avoid the double-arrow of self-judgement for feeling low, when I’m struggling, and I hope you are too. Stay safe, and please, please, do look after your energy—it’s what we (and everything in the universe) are all made of!!
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Photo: Unsplash; Ema Melanaphy