What Katy Did: Finding lost energy
To counteract my week or so of madness - drinking, dancing and partying - I decided to do an energy workshop at the Ipswich Buddhist Centre. With plenty of reasons flying around in my head such as 'I should be doing my allotment' etc, I almost bottled out but I had heard great things of the workshop and how it taught people to 'see' energy, so I wanted to find out if I too could be taught such a skill.
To counteract my week or so of madness - drinking, dancing and partying - I decided to do an energy workshop at the Ipswich Buddhist Centre.
With plenty of reasons flying around in my head such as 'I should be doing my allotment' etc, I almost bottled out but I had heard great things of the workshop and how it taught people to 'see' energy, so I wanted to find out if I too could be taught such a skill.
Advayamati - one of the most experienced Buddhists at the Ipswich centre - was leading the day-long course and I was pleased to see around 10 other people had signed up, one of which was a girl I'd met on the East Anglian Women's Retreat back in March.
After an introduction, we started by doing stretching exercises and what they call 'do in' - getting the energy flowing by tapping yourself at various points over your body and head.
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Then we sat for 20 minutes doing the anapanasati practice - a more in-depth, 16-part version of the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation. I found it easier to concentrate than when doing the normal Mindfulness meditation, as this one involved more teacher guidance so my mind did not wander as much.
Once we were all in a relaxed state, Advayamati asked for a volunteer to lie down on the floor so we could all try and observe their energy. We all agreed the guy in question had a lot of energy up around his shoulders, which seemed quite tense, and quite 'dead' energy around his lower legs, which looked very limp. It turned out he had recently had an accident on a bike which injured his legs, so this was hardly surprising.
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Advayamati then kneeled down next to him and placed his hand gently on his stomach (the solar plexus). What he was trying to do was not to channel energy or anything, but just to stay present with the volunteer and see what effects it had on him.
I was highly sceptical and thought what could possibly happen? Then it was time to pair up. I went with the girl I already knew and was first to lie down. Observing my body, she noticed that one foot flopped out to the side more than the other, which apparently is something to do with low kidney energy (I'm still not convinced about that as I reckon it's just to do with the way my hips formed when I was a child). When she placed her hand on my stomach though, it felt so light and although I wasn't overcome with any sudden surges of energy, I did feel my belly rumble at times and a few slight pains (which may have been down to the time of the month). Towards the end I started to feel tingling in my right arm, which was out to the side. Perhaps this was the energy flowing?
Then we swapped and I was finding it hard to 'see' where there was excess or a lack of energy in my partner. Despite Advayamati's persistence that I just go with my first feeling or intuition, I just could not settle on a certain point, but in the end plumped for her shoulders as I thought that was bound to be right! When I kneeled down and placed my hand on her stomach, I suddenly felt like we were breathing in tandem, though as soon as I noticed it we got out of sync. We were told to raise our hands slowly off the other person's body and when I did, my palm very extremely cold and as if the air below it and above her stomach was frozen! I found this odd as surely if you have been touching someone your hand would be hot? My partner then reported that when I'd raised my hand she felt like her body was being lifted up off the floor, very slightly, as if being elevated by my hand! Maybe I did have special energy powers after all?
Then it was time to change partners and this time I was with a very gentle Japanese lady. We took it in turns to lie on our fronts while the other 'intuited' where to place their hands, this time two, rather than one, so as to create an energy circuit. Not so much massaging but rather using my body weight to lean onto her, I slowing moved my palms up and down her spine, from shoulders to the base, and back. I was sure I would be doing it 'wrong' and that it would have no effect but afterwards, the lady sat up with a huge smile on her face and said it had been most relaxing! And I reported the same sense of calm after she had 'worked' on me. In fact, I could have fallen asleep.
After a vegetarian lunch, we did a walking meditation around the shrine room and then more partner work.
I still would not claim I can 'see' energy, but I definitely experienced the feeling of energy during the workshop and it was most enjoyable. I'd like to try it again but I'll have to make sure I don't party too many nights in a row or I'll have no energy to work with in the first place.
For more information about meditation and workshops at the Ipswich Buddhist Centre, call 01473 211516 or visit www.ipswichbuddhistcentre.co.uk. There is also a Buddhist Centre in Colchester (01206 576330).