Energywork: Attunement

The third in a series of articles on the basics of energywork.  This article will cover the act of Attunement.  This is somewhat of a departure from what is normally considered basic material, but if you’ll bear with me I think I can demonstrate why it belongs here.

What is Attunement?

Attunement is an act of energywork that allows you to connect to and attract specific types or “frequencies” of subtle energy.  In many ways, it’s similar to how your radio can “tune in” to specific radio stations.  Just as tuning into 101.7 on your radio may bring you classic rock to listen to, attuning yourself to fire or water is a way of bringing out those elemental energies to work with.

Attunements are sometimes also referred to as “energy initiations” or “empowerments”, because they are often used by people experienced in working with a certain type of energy to introduce new people to that energy.  This is frequently confused, as in the popular attunements of Western Reiki, with bestowing an ability to work with that energy,.  However, the ability was always there… you simply hadn’t learned to tune into that “frequency” of energy yet.  Time and experimentation have shown self-attunement to be equally effective,,.

How Do You Attune?

Close your eyes.  Imagine yourself surrounded by a vast ocean of the energy you would like to attune yourself to. Imagine this ocean as your whole world, your whole universe.  Slowly breathe in and out, imagining the energy flowing into you with each breath, breathing it in through your mouth and lungs, letting it fill you, swirl around inside you, and permeate your entire being, imprinting itself within you.  Imagine the concentration of energy inside you increasing with each breath, until you are a beacon of the energy, radiating it back out into the ocean of energy from which it came in a blinding flare.  Then, slowly, bring your awareness back to your physical surroundings, holding onto the feeling of the energy filling you until you’re ready to let it go.  That’s all that’s really necessary for a basic attunement to any energy form.

It may also help, while visualizing the energy entering you and imprinting itself within you, to visualize symbols or even words connected with the energy imprinting themselves on you as well.  This could be anything from the alchemical symbol of fire (an upright triangle) to the mantra Cho-Ku-Rei, depending on what energies you are trying to connect with.  Just choose something appropriate to the energy you are working with.

Once you’ve been attuned to an energy, it’s much easier to access and work with it even without going through all the steps of attunement.  Having been in that state once, it’s familiar and easy for you to return to without needing visualization to guide you, though going through the process of visualization prior to working with any energy may help deepen your connection.  If you used symbols or mantras during your attunement process these may also help in reconnecting with the energies outside the context of attunement.

What Comes Next?

Attuning to Your Tools

As you continue to work with energy, you may start to collect tools.  Perhaps a wand or athame, if you go the ceremonial route.  Perhaps a piece of jewelry that you wear only during ritual.  Maybe even just a stone that carries a certain feel.  You can attune yourself to the energies of these specific objects, just as you would to more abstract energy forms.  Just close your eyes, hold the object in your hands, and let its energy fill you… each breath deepening your connection to the tool, deepening the resonance between you.  Let it imprint itself within you, as you have imprinted on it already through your use of it.  This connection, this intentional link, will help you call upon the energies of the tool even when it’s not physically present, should you need them.

Attuning Objects

Attunement isn’t a one way street, either.  Just as you can attune yourself to your ritual tools, you can attune ritual tools to various energies as well. For example, to attune a crystal to the energy of elemental fire: hold the crystal in your hands.  Close your eyes, and imagine an ocean of fire surrounding you and filling up the entire universe, as far as you can possibly imagine.  Slowly, raise the crystal up to eye level and imagine a swirling vortex of fire pouring down into it, filling it with flame, the crystal glowing brighter and brighter as the energy concentrates within it, the fire imprinting itself deep inside the crystal, becoming part of its very essence.  It may help to imagine symbols accompanying the fire… perhaps the upright triangle that symbolizes fire in alchemy, perhaps Kenaz rune of the Elder Futhark, perhaps something more personal… and inscribing themselves into the crystal.  Finally, imagine a flare of fiery energy flashing out from the crystal, a sign that the imprint has taken and the attunement is sealed.  As it fades, allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings again, still feeling the new fiery energy of the crystal in your hands.

Attuning People

Before we get into this section, a word of caution: attuning people can be complicated.  Not in terms of the actual attunement process, but in terms of the human interactions it creates.  It’s very easy for a person receiving an attunement to come to the conclusion that the person attuning them is somehow more spiritually advanced than they are.  Such hero worship should generally be gently discouraged.  On the other hand, it’s equally possible for the person receiving an attunement to decide that they don’t like the person giving the attunement, and that the attunement is really an attempt to work harmful magic on them.  And those are just two possibilities, without going into the various ways in which people can react to the energy of the attunement itself (which of course vary depending on the types of energy involved).  My best advice is: tread carefully, and good luck.  And if anyone does become obsessively attached to you, either as a hero or an enemy, try to be a good sport about it.  They may grow out of that stage later, and feel awfully embarrassed.

The easiest way I know of attuning someone is adapted slightly from the process used in Imara Reiki.  Have the person sit in a comfortable chair.  Stand behind them, placing your hands on their head with their ears between your middle fingers and ring fingers and your thumbs meeting at the top of their head.  Close your eyes, and imagine again the ocean of energy surrounding you, of whatever type you intend to attune them to.  If you are including symbols or mantras, imagine them appearing as writing over top of the person’s head, written in glowing letters of concentrated energy, of the same type you are attuning them to.  Now, imagine a spinning vortex of energy coming down and going into the person, filling them until their entire being is glowing with energy.  Imagine the vortex carrying any symbols or mantras that you have imagined down into the person.  Imagine these symbols, and the energy itself, imprinting themselves deeply onto that person… as if they are becoming a part of them.  In reality they already were, but this attunement will help awaken them to that fact.  Finally, imagine a flare of energy spilling from them, sealing the attunement.  The connection has been made, and the energy now issues from them.  Slowly, bring your awareness back to your surroundings, and check on the person being attuned.  They may need some food and water to help ground them, and it’s often a good idea to have them practice “running” whatever energy they’ve been attuned to… connecting with it on their own (you can use the self-attunement visualizations to help with this, or any symbols or mantras used during the attunement) and projecting it into various things.  If the energy is a healing energy like Reiki, this may include doing basic healing sessions for others.  If it’s an elemental energy, I’d recommend sticking with inanimate objects to start.

Wrapping Up

If it hasn’t become obvious by now, I’ve placed attunement here as the third technique of basic energywork for a simple reason: attunement, at its core, is the process by which we build connections with the various energies we work with.  Without such connections, one isn’t going to get very far manipulating energy.

Many systems of metaphysical study lead people through the experience of a connection with energy without discussing the actual processes that are taking place until the student is more advanced.  For instance, in Western Usui Reiki as popularized by Hawayo Takata, the student receives attunements in levels 1 and 2, but only in level 3 (or 3b, depending on the school) are they generally given information about attuning others or what attunement really involves in an energetic level.  Likewise, in other esoteric traditions, neophytes are initiated and in the process symbols are placed within the candidates aura to help connect them with certain energies but information about performing initiations is reserved for higher grades,.  I’ve chosen instead to make these connections explicit, in the hopes that consciously working with them will allow the seeker both a deeper understanding of the processes involved, and a deeper connection to the energies with which they are working.

I’ve also provided this information as an aide to anyone who may find that they already have a built-in connection to a certain type of energy.  Not all attunements or initiations are the work of human hands; some are worked by entities seen variously as gods, angels, or spirits and some are spontaneous developments that can occur in the heart and mind of any seeker when they’ve reached a certain point in their development all on their own.

As always, if you find more ways to attune yourself (or objects, or other people) or more techniques for taking the process of attunement further, please feel free to share your findings in the comments section.  The next article in this series will be on Thoughtforms.

Energywork: Grounding

The second in a continuing series of articles covering the basics of energywork.  This article will cover the act of Grounding.

What is Grounding?

Next to centering, grounding is one of the most fundamental acts of energywork.  It’s used to discharge excess or negative energies safely, and also to replenish your energy if you’re feeling a little low.  Staying grounded also helps one to be fully present in their body, and aware of what is going on around them in the present moment.  If your mind is wandering and you’re metaphorically “off in the clouds somewhere” or otherwise off-kilter, that’s a strong sign that you may need to ground. Grounding, in most cases, is exactly what it sounds like: connecting to the Earth, and sending any excess or negative energy down into the ground to be absorbed by the planet, then taking in fresh energy to replenish yourself, repeating the cycle until you feel pleasantly energized but not “bursting” with energy.

How do you Ground?

A Basic Technique for Grounding

As with centering, there are many techniques available for grounding.  One of the simplest, and the most commonly used, is to visualize oneself as a tree.  Even kids can do this one.  Just close your eyes, perhaps take a moment to center yourself, and imagine yourself becoming a tree. Feel your roots extending deep into the earth, connecting and anchoring you to the planet itself.  Feel the strength of the earth, the stability as it supports you, nourishes you.  Feel yourself releasing any negative energy to sink down and be absorbed by the earth, while taking in fresh new energy through your roots.  Continue the visualization for as long as you like, cycling energy back and forth, until you feel stable… energized, but not overflowing with energy, fully present in your body in the here-and-now.  Other visualizations are also possible… you could visualize yourself as a mountain, for instance, rather than a tree.

Physical Grounding

Visualizations aren’t the only way to ground.  There are a whole host of techniques for grounding excess energy that don’t require any conscious manipulation of your mental state.   These range from activities like physical exercise to simply eating something.  I’m a big fan of walking, myself, though make sure to stay hydrated.  Some people also find working with certain minerals aids in grounding,.  Iron is one of the most traditional for this, though it isn’t exactly gentle about it.  Personally, I prefer copper if I’m going with a pure metal, unless I can get my hands on Bog Iron from New Jersey.  I’m also a big fan of a combination of iron pyrite and magnetite known in metaphysical circles as “Healer’s Gold”.  Other good stones for grounding include Moss Agate, Black Obsidian, Smokey Quartz, Staurolite, and Black Tourmaline.

What Comes Next?

Grounding in Other Elements

So far, this article has focused on grounding in the element of Earth.  But it’s equally possible to “ground” in any of the elements.  All of them have a physical component capable of anchoring one in the here-and-now, all of them have the capacity to receive and transform unwanted energies, and all of them have the capacity to help refill one’s energetic reserves.

The basic procedure for doing this is very similar to the exercises for grounding in Earth.  If you care to ground in Fire, you can visualize yourself as the heart of a flame, continually releasing energy and taking in new fuel, at once stable and yet always engaged in the act of transformation.  Equally, you could visualize yourself as a phoenix or a star, whatever imagery speaks to you.  If Water is more your style, you might imagine slowly sinking into the ocean and letting yourself dissolve into the foam, merging with the waters, letting them carry any unwanted energy away while at the same time replenishing you, the boundaries between yourself and the larger ocean murky and unclear until it is time to return again to a more tangible form.  For aficionados of Air, you might imagine simply letting a wind blow “through” you, carrying away what is unwanted and filling you up with its own energy.  All of these are equally valid, as are any other methods of reaching a stable “grounded” energetic state.  Nor are you limited to grounding yourself in classical Western elements… wood and metal from the eastern elemental system are just as valid, as are light and shadow.  If in doubt, experiment.  Try grounding in something and see if it works.  If it does, great.  If it doesn’t, try something else.

Wrapping Up

Grounding may seem fairly basic but without it it’s far too easy for someone working with subtle energies to become disconnected from physical reality, overloaded by more energy than their system can metabolize on its own, be impaired by negative energies, and overall simply become a less effective channel for energy.  I strongly recommend grounding both before and after any act of energywork.  During the working itself, it may be more appropriate to center without grounding.

As always, if you find any more ways to ground yourself, or any more techniques for taking grounding further, please feel free to share them in the comments section.  The next article in this series will be on Attunement.

Energywork: Centering

Many of the articles already on, as well as others I’m planning to post here in the future, require a basic understanding of energywork.   Because of this, I’ve decided to start a series covering the fundamentals of the subject in an attempt to make this site more friendly to newcomers.  I’m not sure how long it will take me to write these, nor am I sure if they will be entirely consecutive or if they will be interspersed among writings on other subjects.  This first one, at any rate, will cover the act of Centering.

What is Centering?

Centering is the single most fundamental act of energywork.  Grounding may be a close second, and the two are often talked about and even performed together as a single act, but I thought it might be useful to consider them separately.  There may well be times you will want to center yourself without grounding, though I admittedly can’t think of any times the reverse would be true.

Centering is literally a return to one’s center… a place of calm, balance, and focus within us.  It allows us to set aside stray thoughts and external influences, to still our minds, to marshal our energy and concentration, and to prepare a place to begin our Work.  This is the first step in almost any occult procedure, and one it’s helpful to return to during the course of most workings to keep the subtle energies you are manipulating focused for the task at hand.  If your thoughts get scattered, your energy gets scattered too.

How Do You Center?

A Basic Technique for Centering

Luckily, there are lots of techniques you can use to center yourself.  One of the easiest is simply to visualize yourself surrounded by a giant sphere of energy.  Imagine that energy contracting, pulling in until it is a thin shell around your body.  Then, imagine it contracting further, becoming a dense little ball inside of you at a point just below your belly button.  That’s one place you can center yourself, known as the low Dantian.   Hold it there as long as you want, just breathing in and out slowly, until you feel calm and focused.

Standing at the Crossroads

Another technique is to visualize two roads crossing in front of you.  At the center of the crossroads there is a large tree.  Imagine yourself going to sit at the base of the tree, your back against its trunk, the roads stretched out around you.  Cast your mind down each of the roads… one before you, one behind you, one to your left and one to your right.  Imagine what might be down each of them, then slowly allow your mind to return to the crossroads, to the center.  As time passes, allow yourself to become aware of a fourth road… the road formed by the tree… and allow your mind to follow its branches up into the sky, and its roots down into the earth.  Each time, slowly allow your mind to return to the crossroads, to the center.  Finally, become aware of the final road… the road within you.  Follow it to the heart of the crossroads.  Follow it to your center.

Centering with Breath

Still another technique relies on the breath.  Breathe in and out through the nose.  On each exhalation, exhale all the way out to completely clear the lungs.  Then slowly inhale, allowing your stomach to expand as you breath in and the air to settle in the deepest parts of your lungs. Hold it there for a few moments, then continue… breathing out completely, then slowly breathing in deeply so it feels almost like you’re inflating your belly.  Try to keep your chest relaxed while you’re doing this, it doesn’t need to expand along with your stomach.  When you have the hang of this, try visualizing a golden ball of energy growing in your lower Dantian, just below your belly button.  The ball is like a miniature sun inside you, and with each breath you take it grows brighter and brighter.

What comes next?

Obviously, you can mix and match any of the preceding exercises to create a method of centering which works for you.  You can also learn other methods of centering, whether through a google search for centering techniques or just experimenting and following your own intuition.  As long as you end up in a calm, centered state there really is no wrong way to get there.  But what if you want to take things a little further?  Centering may be basic, but there are some more advanced techniques associated with it.

Centering on Something

So far, we’ve taken a look at finding your center. Now, we’ll consider a method of working with that center, by focusing it on something specific.  One of the more common things to center oneself on is the divine, and this practice is often used to facilitate a direct connection with divinity.  To do this, follow the same steps as before to arrive at your center.  Once there, hold an image of the divine in your mind… even if that image is just a clear, pure light.  If other thoughts arise, acknowledge them and then set them aside if they are not relevant, and return your attention to the image.  If it helps, you can also mentally repeat a specific word over and over… perhaps simply “<insert your deity’s name here>”.  Do this as long as you like, and just listen and see what happens.

Centering on the Go

Centering oneself when you’re all by yourself and still and seated and comfortable is fairly easy.  But what about when you’re on the go?  Think you can center yourself while walking around, or in the middle of a traumatic situation?  You may not think you can, yet, but this is generally when you most need to.  Here’s a technique to get you started.  Whenever you become aware of not feeling centered in your daily life, it may be useful to take a few minutes to consciously do this, to create a habit of bringing oneself back to center that will then carry over even into extraordinary or traumatic situations.

Begin walking, at whatever speed is comfortable with you.  As you walk, slowly breath in and out, taking two or three steps as you inhale and then two or three steps as you exhale.  Allow the breath to go all the way down to your belly and push it out, just like the last exercise.  Then exhale completely, emptying your lungs, before starting the process over again.  Become aware of the sphere of light brightening in your Dantian as you walk and breathe.  Each step, each breath, makes it brighter.  Now, center your thoughts on an image of calm and peace held within that sphere of light.  Perhaps a simple scene from nature, perhaps the image you use to connect with divinity, perhaps just the word Peace and the feeling that goes with it.  Feel that image suffusing your center, till the combined energy overflows and runs down your body to your feet, still growing with each step, each breath, an endless inner fountain.  Imagine yourself leaving little puddles of this energy behind you with each step, little seeds of peace planted in the world.

Wrapping Up

Obviously there are many more ways to center, and many more things one can do with centering.  I strongly encourage anyone interested to look into it further.  Sources dealing with meditation may be a great deal of help, as centering lies as the heart of most forms of meditative practice.  If you find any more ways to center yourself, or any more techniques for working with your center, please feel free to share them in the comments section.

That’s about it for centering, and I hope you’ve found it useful.  The next article planned for this series will deal with Grounding.