What Is Energy Healing, Anyway? Experts Explain
If you're clued in to the ever-changing world of wellness, you might have noticed energy healing steadily gaining popularity. Maybe you've seen the clip of Julianne Hough receiving a treatment, listened to your sister-in-law rave about reiki, or heard about your coworker's extensive collection of crystals. No matter what sparked your interest, there's a chance you're still wondering what energy healing is.
Energy healing (also called energy work) is a broad wellness genre filled with many different modalities and opinions. As such, it can be a confusing subject to dissect. To help make sense of it, we talked to some energy healers and did some research to answer at least a few of your burning questions. Here, learn what energy healing is, the different types of energy-healing tools and treatments, and why you might want to consider trying it for yourself.
What Is Energy Healing?
Energy healing has its roots in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. It comes in many forms, including reiki, acupuncture, and crystal healing; you can expect different experiences from different teachers, Millana Snow, an energy healer and founder of Wellness Official, says. Essentially, it's the act of channeling and changing the energy that runs through your body as a way of healing.
Energy healing "utilizes subtle energies — like wavelengths of color or sound frequencies — to restore a sense of relaxation and well-being," says Alexis Alvarez, an intuitive energy worker at Modrn Sanctuary who practices different forms of energy healing, including crystal healing and reiki. "The theory is that energy work can benefit mental, emotional, and physical concerns or ailments, because these issues always start as an energetic imbalance first." The goal is to regulate the energy center and treat the imbalance, returning the body to a "harmonious state," or homeostasis.
The Different Energy-Healing Tools and Treatments
Energy healing doesn't refer to a single process; it encompasses many different healing modalities that "diagnose or heal by manipulating the energy that pulses through every cell in our bodies," says Jill Blakeway, DACM, LAc, doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine and author of "Energy Medicine: The Science and Mystery of Healing."
One of the most talked-about methods — and the one backed by the most scientific research — is acupuncture, which is used to treat a plethora of issues, including menstrual problems, fertility, pain, allergies, and stress. Interestingly enough, Blakeway says it's the only energy-healing technique that is licensed in the United States.
Research shows that acupuncture "increases circulation, thermal imaging shows it reduces inflammation, and blood tests confirm that it prompts the body to produce its own painkillers, called endorphins," Blakeway says. "It's also more mechanical than other forms of energy medicine."
Snow has developed her own style of practice, which she calls integrative energy healing — and which she likens to "being the opposite of acupuncture." Her method works from the inside (think: your emotional, mental, and spiritual states) to affect your physical body.
Another common energy-healing technique is reiki, which is sometimes used to reduce stress and pain. Johns Hopkins Medicine describes it as a practice of energy healing where "hands are placed just off the body or lightly touching the body, as in 'laying on of hands.'" Reiki practitioners will "use their hands to deliver energy to your body, improving the flow and balance of your energy to support healing," according to the Cleveland Clinic.
"Crystals have applications in science that are related to their ability to transform energy," Blakeway explains. "The technical term for this is piezoelectric, which means they can transform energy from one form to another. Crystals vibrate at their own frequency, and the frequency emitted by specific types of crystal can be measured. This makes them an excellent conduit for energy, which is why they are used in energy healing."
Different crystals are said to have different energy components. For example, amber reportedly promotes emotional and physical healing, while moonstone has calming qualities.
Alvarez says that utilizing crystals is one of the many ways you can practice energy healing in your daily life without having to book time with a practitioner. "Some people listen to Aum chanting and specific sound frequencies for stress relief," she adds. "Using a colored light bulb can quickly adjust your mood. Essential oils are also a great and practical energy tool we can use to feel better. The chemicals in the scents we smell can have immediate effects on our psyche."
Energy healing can also incorporate other common wellness practices, such as meditation, breathwork, and mind-body movement.
In short, the field is overflowing with different treatments — but not all are backed by a significant amount of scientific research. So, if you want to give energy healing a shot, consider seeking guidance from a licensed professional or a medical professional.
What's a Session With an Energy Healer Like?
What is energy healing like? With Snow, it starts with meditation and breathwork, where you'll consciously change your breathing pattern to alter your mental and physical states. From there, "I start to work on your chakra system, the seven main chakras," Snow says. This helps unblock your energy channels and return you to "your natural state of well-being," she says.
The goal of this practice is to "move deeper into the unconscious mind, looking at how your mental stories and ideas are trapped in that energy, in that emotion, in that physical ailment," Snow says.
With that said, since there are so many different types of energy healing, your experience will vary depending on the practitioner and the modality they're using.
Can You Do Remote Energy Work?
If you are thinking about trying energy healing but can't make it to an IRL appointment, or if it's tough to find a practitioner in your area, we have good news: you don't have to do it in person. Snow has led online energy-healing sessions for two years through Wellness Official and says you can still get the benefits without leaving your home. She's even led sessions through Instagram Live.
"You put your headphones in, you lie down, and I start to guide you into a meditation to help you go deeper into your subconscious," Snow says. She then leads clients into breathwork before sending energy their way. "It's working off the premise that space and time are illusions," she explains. "Energy doesn't need the containers of physical space. It goes wherever it needs to go." Snow's remote clients have said that it actually feels like she's in the room with them — like they can feel the touch of her hands. "It might sound a little scary," Snow laughs. "I promise you, it's not scary. It's all positive, loving energy."
What Can You Get Out of Energy Healing?
In Snow's experience, most people don't try energy healing until they're going through a challenging time, whether it's with their job, their health, or their relationships. "They've kind of hit a wall," she says.
However, energy healing can actually benefit anyone, no matter where they are in life. "What I hope for most people is that it doesn't have to get really hard before they come to me," Snow says. If energy healing — or even other aspects of it, such as breathwork or meditation — are part of your normal routine, you'll be more in tune with your body and mind. If something's going wrong in life, being in touch with yourself will help you pick up on it sooner and have the strength to make a change. "That's what I ultimately wish for all of my clients," Snow says. "That they get into that practice, and they can just have that strength and clarity on their own."
— Additional reporting by Maggie Ryan