From Unconditional Forgiveness
Notes on the Subtle Energy System
One of the things that distinguishes the Eight Steps to Freedom from other methods of forgiveness is the acknowledgement and utilization of the subtle energy system for healing an emotional wound and its residue in the body. The physical refreshment that comes with the experience of forgiveness is due to the release of a formation of old, “stuck” energy in the body, and the restoration of a flow of healthy new energy. The relative health of the “flow” of life force in the subtle energy body may well be the key to the physical body being able to remain vital and free of disease. Although Western medicine has been slow to acknowledge this idea, or even the very existence of the subtle energy body, it has long been acknowledged by other ancient systems of medicine—Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic—and the model of the chakra system is widely acknowledged today in the alternative/complementary therapies that have grown up independently of standard Western medicine. There are a number of sophisticated works on the subtle body (see “Further Reading Resources” below), but for our purposes in the Eight Steps, I present here a simple synthesis that highlights the features you need to know for a successful forgiveness experience.
The keys to understanding how to recognize and use the resource of your subtle body for healing are found in the concepts of:
- Our sources of vital energy,
- The healthy circulation of energy throughout the body in the chakra system
- The healthy energy boundary, or aura, in our environment and with people.
Our Sources of Vital Energy
We receive energy from above, below, and all around us. Life-giving energy comes from below us, from the green vitality of the planet earth, which supports the health of every creature in every ecosystem of the biosphere. Human beings are mammals, and so, like every other animal, we have our “grounding”—the foundation of our physical nature. Our subtle energy systems have “roots” that extend into the ground a foot or so to an energy formation that is underground, our grounding center. This center is connected to the source of being and consciousness in the very heart of the earth itself. Our roots draw energy from under the ground into our feet, legs, and up into the lower half of our torsos to feed into the main energy system. Like sap rising in a trunk of a tree, energy flows upward into our beings, continually bringing biological renewal. You also receive energy from above, from your soul, or Higher Self, which exists as a distinct energy entity within the vast oceanof Self—which you might think of as God or the Universe, depending on your framework. This eternal spark of conscious Universal Light is your personal connection, your gateway to the healing love/light/energy and creativity of that great Self. Your soul “plugs in” to your personality and its subtle energy body at a center twelve to eighteen inches over your head, which is known as the “transpersonal chakra.” This large chakra is like a “stepdown capacitor” between the unimaginable energy of the Creator and your own limited capacity as a human being to relate to that energy. For our purposes in conducting a successful forgiveness experience, it does not actually matter whether you believe that there is, in fact, an invisible sphere of light and healing energy hovering above your head, or whether you think of it as a creative visualization, a symbolic device of the mind that you use to call upon its healing resources. What matters is that, with some amount of faith and trust, you can reach to a source of healing above you that is beyond the limitations of your personality. You can clearly sense or imagine that you are able to open up a window of sorts at the very top of your head, and bring the love/light/energy from that source above you, down into your subtle and physical bodies—thus dissolving the energy block that has been troubling you.
The Healthy Circulation of Energy in the Chakra System
A chakra, a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel,” is a swirling vortex that spins energy from the Universe into our personal beings. In the same way that the heart pumps blood through the veins and arteries of our physical bodies, the chakras move energy through the various channels of our subtle energy bodies. These channels have been called meridians in Chinese medicine and nadis in Indian philosophy. Like the in breath and the out breath, the inward-and-outward spiraling motion of the chakras draws energy in to nourish our beings, and it also expresses our personal energy outward into our personal spaces, our auric fields. The health of each chakra center in the subtle energy system influences the glandular health of that area of the body, and the vibrancy of the body overall. The seven main chakras are located in a line extending from the base of the torso to the top of the head, and they open to both the front and the back of the body. They are fed with energy from the transpersonal chakra above the head (where the eternal soul joins the personal self) and the transpersonal chakra below the ground (where the mortal personal self puts roots into the planet and participates in earthly life). There are many more minor chakras in the energy system, but we don’t need to study those to accomplish forgiveness. The spinning motion of each chakra is part of the “distribution system” that delivers energy throughout our subtle bodies and into our physical bodies. Alternative/complementary healing practitioners agree that unhealed wounds are held as blocks in the chakras, and these blocks eventually may cause physical health difficulties. Certain emotional issues also express themselves in specific chakras. Therefore, your awareness of your wound in your subtle body may have symptoms like heaviness, ache, blockage, or cold emptiness at the corresponding area of your physical body. Everyday examples of this abound: the “heavy heart,” the “knife in your back,” the “lump in your throat,” and the sick feeling in your solar plexus when you feel shame or are being overpowered by another person’s will. If you went to your family doctor and said, “Doctor, my heart is very heavy, something’s wrong,” he would not be able to see your problem with an x-ray, CAT scan, or MRI. It’s in the subtle energy body, and we don’t yet have the medical equipment to show these things. (Although a lab at UCLA has successfully recorded the sound of the chakras spinning at their classical locations on the body.)
When you perform the Eight Steps to Freedom, the subtle energy system is apparent and important.
In Step Two: Express Your Feelings, you accelerate your process of emotional release when you attempt to contact your emotions and speak their truth from the part of your body that feels heavy or blocked. In Step Four: Restore Your Boundaries, you restore the integrity of your personal space and visualize your aura as strong and whole. In Step Five: Open Up to the Universe to Get Your Needs Met in a Different Way, you open your seventh chakra like a big window and receive love/light/energy from the transpersonal chakra above your head into your subtle and physical bodies. You consciously move that energy down through you from head to toe, especially bringing concentrations of cleansing energy to the specific chakra(s) that were blocked with the old pain. When you send your love/light/energy from this transpersonal chakra through you and out to the person you’ve forgiven, you establish yourself in “right relationship” to him or her, whether the person is near or far, alive or passed away. It is during the journey of Steps Four, Five, and Six that your aura is truly “repaired” and you establish stronger energetic boundaries with the person you’ve forgiven, and similar people, from then on. At the end of the Eight Steps, you can consciously identify the nature of the healing that occurred, in part, by the discernable sense of lightness in one or more of your chakra centers.
The Subtle Energy System
The chakras distribute the light and energy of Spirit and the nourishing vitality of the Earth throughout the subtle energy body. The energy body nourishes the health and vitality of your physical body.
First: “The root chakra”
- Tailbone, the base of the spine
- Grounding, physical comforts, physical and financial survival, security, ancestral heritage, and relationship to the Earth
Second: “The sacral chakra”
- Between pubis and navel; includes generative and elimination organs
- Gender identification, sexuality, bonding with a mate, fertility, and creativity
Third: “The solar plexus”
- Stomach region
- Power, safety, personal space, will, common sense, reality, individuation, and self esteem
Fourth: “The heart center”
- Heart, chest cavity.
- Love, connectivity, joy, hope, devotion, sharing, compassion, belonging, and community.
- This chakra is considered the most important, the “bridge” between the earthly personality and the soulful self.
Fifth: “The seat of expression”
- Truth, knowledge, discrimination, service, humility, and self-expression
Sixth: “The third eye”
- Center of the forehead
- Purpose, vision, planning, synthesis, integration, self-realization, and unity consciousness
Seventh: “The crown center”
- Top of the head
- God-realization, relationship to God and the Universe, Divine guidance and inspiration, and the doorway to universal energy and healing
The Healthy Energy Boundary, or Aura, in Our Environment and with People
The aura, your personal energetic space, is visible to some people with sensitive sight as a field of light around the body, especially visible around the head. It is both an expression of the energy within you shining out into the space around you, as well as a protective sheath that enables you to filter out worldly and personality energies that might otherwise overwhelm your will or your senses. On a psychological level, the strength of the aura is determined by the strength and integrity of the healthy ego—the sense of an intact, whole self that walks through life with attitudes of trust, good will, high self-esteem, and innate self worth. All of these attitudes function together as a protection of sorts in social situations. If you grew up with a lack of support for your healthy individuality, or were hurt by your caregivers instead of being nurtured and helped by them, you may have a weak, partial, or permeable auric field, which is a true health problem in your subtle energy body. It can cause you to be easily intimidated or overwhelmed by personalities with more will and energy, and quickly tired out in high-energy situations like parties or the shopping mall. Your aura can be consciously strengthened and brought to full health with energy healing, assertiveness training, visualization, and especially forgiveness work with the Eight Steps to weakened you, or took advantage of your weakness in the past, you reclaim your personal space and rebuild it with new energy that increases your serenity and confidence.
Further Reading Resources
Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing through the Human Energy Field (New York: Bantam Books, 1988).
Caroline Myss, The Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996).
Bruce Burger, Esoteric Anatomy: The Body as Consciousness (New York: North Atlantic Books, 1998).
Betsy Rippentrop and Eve Adamson, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Chakras (New York: Alpha, 2009). (Author note: despite the title, this book is excellent—simple but comprehensive.)
Judith Anodea, Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System (St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2010).
Cindy Dale, The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energy Anatomy (Boulder: Sounds True, 2009).