These are turbulent times and unsettling for us all. Our
world seems a more dangerous place than it did before
and itís not remotely surprising that many of us are
feeling increased anxiety and stress. There is little we
can do individually about war and terrorism Ė and that
in its own way makes us feel impotent and vulnerable.
However the one thing we CAN affect is our own attitude:
we can all work on establishing a level of inner peace.
I think itís important work, vital work. If we are
calm we, in turn, spread a feeling of calm around us.
Children, in particular, benefit hugely. Iím concerned
that so many children are becoming profoundly anxious
about war and terrorism. Inevitably they pick up on our
moods Ė children are small psychic sponges! So, letís
look at how we can cultivate our own sense of inner
peace. If youíre familiar with my work, youíll
probably know before we start that it wonít
necessarily be an easy process. I donít think that itís
possible to achieve lasting inner peace with the psychic
equivalent of a sticking plaster. You need to sift back
and heal yourself on a deep inner level. Is it worth it?
Definitely. Is it all hard toil and misery? Not at all.
Many of the exercises are great fun.
SHIFTING EMOTIONAL ENERGY
Itís easy to feel we arenít in control of our
feelings, our lives. Itís far easier to blame other
people, events, world situations than look within for
answers. Yet truly we hold the key to how we react to
the world Ė we can react with panic or calm, inner
conflict or inner peace. Think about it. You wake up and
itís Monday morning, you have a meeting you are
dreading with a person you hate. So how do you feel? Now
imagine you wake up and itís Saturday morning: ahead
of you lies a day at the beach with your family or a
group of great friends. Does that feel different? You
bet it does! Learning how to shift your emotional energy
can be a huge boon in modern life. It wonít take the
traumas and unpleasantness out of everyday life but it
will enable you to deal with it in the best possible
Emotional energy manifests itself in our moods, our
feelings and attitudes. If you have vital energy freely
moving through you, you will tend to have a sunny
disposition, an optimistic outlook, a frank, open and
honest approach to the world Ė you will radiate inner
peace. If your energy is blocked you will probably show
some of the classic symptoms which we tend to think of
as vices or psychological problems: for example anger,
fear, jealousy, resentment, shame.
But what causes this blockage in the first place?
Many therapists now think that our emotional energy can
become blocked, warped or repressed at a very early age.
Some go as far as suggesting that even our time in the
womb can be formative.
Take a few moments to consider the following
questions. You may like to sit down quietly when you
know you wonít be disturbed. Perhaps light a candle to
focus your mind.
- If your parents are alive, ask them about your
earliest beginnings. Were you planned or a
"surprise"? How were you conceived? What
emotions surrounded the news of your existence? If your
parents are no longer alive, is there anyone else you
can ask? Siblings, aunts, uncles, your parentsí
- How was your motherís pregnancy? Did she have any
physical problems? How were her emotions? Was there any
stress? Any financial worries?
- What kind of birth did you have? Were you early, on
time or late? Did your mother have to have any drugs,
any surgical intervention? Was she frightened? Was the
birth easy or difficult, short or very long?
- How was your babyhood and early childhood? What is
your earliest memory?
- What do you remember most about your childhood? What
emotions did you express most freely? Which emotions
were you not allowed, or not encouraged to express? For
eg, were you told off for being too loud or too
- Did you suffer any traumas as a child? Did you lose
a parent or watch your parents divorce? Was there
illness in the family, or poverty, or severe stress?
Itís worth making the effort to dig out this
information. You might find out some surprising facts.
As babies and children we are incredibly open to
suggestion - we are like little psychic sponges. The
actions, words and emotions of the people who surround
us will literally make up how we experience the world.
And how we experience the world, our world view, will
affect our own sense of inner peace. If we were
over-protected as children, not allowed to run free, the
world can appear a dangerous place - our own emotional
energy shrinks back in fear. If we were not given enough
warmth and cuddling, the world can appear cold and
unwelcoming - our energy surrounds us in a cocoon to
keep us warm (but which keeps out other people). If we
were hurt, ignored, pushed aside, our energy will try to
protect us by building a wall around our feelings -
which, of course, keeps out the good as well as the bad.
Parents have the trickiest of jobs - itís a
perilously difficult dance to give a child the emotional
grounding he or she needs: sensing that there are times
to be warm and enclosing, protective in your love and at
other times allowing the child the freedom and space to
go out and explore, to push back the frontiers. Of
course you wonít get it right all the time - and of
course our own parents didnít. Itís important to say
that this exercise of looking back should never become a
source of recrimination. Whatís done is done and
cannot be changed - except by taking charge of your own
Self here and now, in the present. Itís useful to know
the earliest roots of your emotional blockages but itís
fruitless to waste time in blame.
TRACKING UNWANTED EMOTIONAL ENERGY
Another way of uncovering the underlying negative
emotions that stand in the way of inner peace is to work
with your body. Choose a time when you wonít be
disturbed, ideally somewhere where you can make a noise
if you want. You might choose to have some cushions or
pillows around you. Note: if you feel overly anxious
about doing this exercise, you might want to have
someone you totally trust with you. If it feels very
scary, maybe you need to explore this area with some
- Lie down on the floor, on a comfortable mat or rug.
- Spend some time centering yourself, breathing slowly
- Become aware of your body. Where are you holding
tension? Where do you feel discomfort? Pinpoint the
place and the feeling.
- Now exaggerate the feeling. So, if you are clenching
your jaw, clench it harder. And harder.
- What does your body want to do or say? Donít
think, just let your body follow its need. You might
find yourself spitting out words or phrases; you might
curl up in a ball; you might lash out at a cushionÖyou
might do nothing.
- Give your body permission to do whatever it needs to
express its repressed emotional energy - within safe
- When you feel your body has had enough for this
session, lie quietly once more and return to your
- Stand up and stamp your feet to return to normal
awareness. You may wish to write down what happened.
The issues may not be clear the first time you try
this. But persevere. You may be interested to know that
where we hold tension is often directly related to our
emotional blockages. As a brief guideline:
- the eye area tends to be about what we are allowed
- the mouth/jaw/throat area tends to be about
communication, about being heard, about nourishment
- the chest and heart area tends to be about anger,
sadness, rejection, longing
- the abdominal area tends to be about fear and
digestion (what we take in)
- the pelvic/sacral area tends to be about sexuality,
survival, support, vitality
Our bodies really do know the answers. Bodyworkers
have found that repressed thoughts, feelings, old hurts
and memories are all stored in the body. If you feel you
have a lot of old psychological "baggage" but
are nervous of trying psychotherapy, I would heartily
recommend you go to a good bodyworker. Many people find
that, under the skilled hands of a therapist, they can
release old patterns, allowing their emotional energy to
run free once more. Sometimes you recall the old hurts -
sometimes you donít have to relive the experience,
just let it go.
KEEP A JOURNAL - RECORD YOUR DREAMS
While you are doing this work it really is worthwhile
keeping a log of your experiences and feelings. Use it
for writing down what you discover during these
exercises, and others that you do. Use it to record your
dreams, stray thoughts, meditations and visualizations.
I would also heartily recommend you start recording
your dreams. Dreams offer incredible pointers to our
psyches. But it can take some time to figure out their
language. Dreams speak in riddles, in symbols and images
rather than straightforward messages. So write down your
dream and then spend some time thinking about it,
however silly it might appear.
- If some particular object or animal appears in your
dream think about what it means to you. What
significance does that thing have for you? What does it
remind you of? Allow your mind to work laterally.
- Other people who appear in dreams are often aspects
of ourselves - perhaps those which are repressed or not
allowed to express themselves freely. Animals can
represent our "animal" side too. A great
technique for understanding this form of energy is to
hold a "conversation" with a character or
animal in a dream. Imagine it is sitting opposite you
(behind a solid glass wall, if itís scary) - ask it
what it wants, what it needs. You might just be
- Another technique for working with dreams is to
"dream the dream on". Lie or sit down and
breathe deeply so you become calm and centered. Imagine
yourself back in your dream. Run through the dream as
you remember it but, instead of it ending, allow it to
continue. Imagine what would happen next. You can also
choose this way of conversing with figures and animals.
- Painting is a wonderful way of moving dream work
too. You donít need to be an artist - far from it.
Simply put out a large piece of paper and use whatever
materials you desire. You can either draw your dream
figuratively or just let the paint express how you felt
in the dream. Whichever, donít censor yourself - just
let the paint talk. After you have finished, sit back
and look. What can you see? Does anything become
clearer? Did any emotions come up as you were painting?
Maybe write to your painting - or dance the feelings it
brings up in you.
These are all very powerful techniques and weíre
rushing through them at a rate of knots! So please donít
feel you have to do everything at once. Take it slowly,
in your own time and at your own pace. Many of us spent
our childhoods being told to either "hurry up"
or "slow down" - time is one of the dimensions
into which our energy was molded from a very tender age.
So give yourself the time you need. Do remember also
that these are the kind of techniques which are often
used in a therapeutic setting - with trained therapists
on hand. I tend to follow the great spiritual workshop
leader Denise Linnís belief that we will go no further
than we are ready to - that our psyches have a way of
protecting us from going too far, too quickly. So, if
you feel happy about these exercises, then you should be
perfectly OK to do them. If you feel the slightest
doubt, proceed with caution or not at all.
PAST LIFE ENERGY
Some people, after doing all this, still canít find
any vestige of inner peace. So thereís a theory that
our energy blocks go back even further than conception.
Rebirthers (who use a form of breathwork to take people
back to their birth and even to the moment of their
conception) found that some people went back further
still - to past lives. Some even go as far as saying
that our emotional hang-ups and our physical ailments
can be blamed on unresolved past lives. Does it really
work? Iím keeping an open mind. I have tried past life
therapy and come up with some interesting "past
lives" but then Iím very suggestible and suffer
from an over-active imagination. I have to say that
discovering and resolving my past as an impoverished
peasant didnít make me win the lottery and lose the
pounds! However, itís an interesting thought and,
whether we actually go back to the past or itís our
subconscious finding a way of speaking to us, it does
often seem to have intriguing (and often quite
therapeutic) results. If you couldnít find anything in
your early life that could cause your stuck energy, then
it may be worth trying this.
You will need someone to help you - reading out the
instructions slowly and clearly. Make sure you will not
- Lie down somewhere comfortable and warm.
- Start by tensing your toes, your ankles, calves,
knees. Pull in your thigh muscles and tense your
buttocks. Draw in your stomach, pull in your abdomen.
Make a fist, tense your arms, shrug your shoulders.
Screw up your face. Take a deep breathe. And relax.
- Repeat step 2.
- Now relax. Let your feet fall apart, let your hands
uncurl. Relax your shoulders. Turn your head to the
right, to the left. Push your head back into the floor
to release the neck muscles.
- Start to pay attention to your breath. Breathe
slowly, quietly and deeply.
- Now imagine you are in a beautiful place. Itís
somewhere in which you feel totally safe, totally
secure. It might be outside or inside, an actual place
or somewhere in your mind. Know that you are totally
safe here and can return here at any time.
- Somewhere in this place you notice a door. You stand
before it, noticing the colour of the door, the material
from which itís made, its size, shape and texture.
This door leads to the past.
- When you are ready, open the door. In front of you
is a staircase, lightly swathed in mist. There are ten
steps and with each step down you will be doing deeper
and deeper, down into the past.
- Ten, going down. Down into the past. Nine, going
deeper, deeper down into the past. Eight. Seven, deeper
still. Six, slowly and surely, down and down. Five,
deeper. Four, down one step further. Three, almost
there. The mist is deeper now, you canít quite see the
bottom. Two, down further still. And one, youíre
- Stand for a moment as the mist gently swirls around
you. Now look down at your feet which you can barely see
through the mist.
- The mist is clearing and you can see your feet. What
are they like? Are they a manís or womanís feet? An
adult or child? What color? Are they bare or shod?
- This should give you a good clue to your whereabouts
and time. Now look at the rest of yourself. Look around
you - where are you standing.
- If you like, you can explore your environment,
describing what you see. Ask the "past-lifer"
about their life: where do they live; are they married;
whatís their job; are they happy; what life events
have affected them?
- If you are still happy and relaxed you can take the
person to their death. They donít need to experience
it - itís quite OK to float outside and watch! Ask
them what they feel and what they learned from this
life. Are there any unresolved emotions? How do they
feel they can best deal with these in this life? Often
surprising answers will emerge.
- Now itís time to return. Once again you see the
mist and in front of you is the staircase. Youíre
going up, ten, nine, eight, coming up, back to waking
reality. Seven, coming up. Six, five, four, becoming
aware of your body, aware of the room around you, back
to normal time. Three, almost up now. When you open your
eyes you will be feeling refreshed and relaxed. Two,
hearing the sounds around you, feeling your body on the
floor. One, totally awake, totally aware.
- Open your eyes. Lie still for a while. Then get
slowly up, stamp your feet. You may want a cup of tea
and a biscuit.
- Talk over your experiences with your helper.
Remember to write everything down in your journal.
LIBERATING EMOTIONAL ENERGY
The first step to achieving inner peace is to know
where your blockages are and how they got there. Then
you have to shift them. First and foremost, remember
that these blocks are there for good reason. Your psyche
hasnít done this for no reason - it is trying to
protect you. So, before all else, thank your body and
psyche for being so protective and clever in thinking up
ways of holding back painful memories and old hurts.
Then ask it if it is willing to leave. Tell it that you
are ready to move on, to become more open, more
vulnerable, yes - more unprotected. You may find you
feel a sense of something lifting, shifting, moving away
from you. Bless it and imagine it dispersed in a flash
of pure white shimmering light, transmuted into
something pure, able to return to the source.
Of course, negative energy which has been lodged
often for years, may not be so easy to shift. Like a
stubborn stain, it might take weeks, months, even years
to resolve. Donít be in a hurry over this. Let it
evolve naturally. If you have read any of my books, you
will be familiar with the techniques I use for
liberating stagnating energy and working towards peace.
To recap, try these:
- Breathe. Try practicing breathing exercises on a
regular basis. If you have an area which feels stuck,
try breathing into it, visualizing healing energy
clearing away the blocks.
- Dance. Allowing your body to move as it wants can be
hugely effective. Look at forms of dance therapy such as
biodanza, Gabrielle Rothís Five Rhythms, Eurythmy or
just freeform movement.
- Paint. Continue painting in a completely free
fashion. If you find this hard, you could try painting
with your non-dominant hand (ie if youíre left-handed,
paint with your right, and vice versa). Or paint with
your eyes shut. Or paint to music. Or use clay.
- Dream. Continue with a dream diary and work with the
images and symbols you discover.
- Find a good bodyworker or psychotherapist. My ideal
is someone trained in both therapeutic talking and
touching - biodynamic therapy, SHEN and Kairos merge
this well and many bodyworkers are now training in
- Affirm. Choose an affirmation that digs to the heart
of your block. I.e. "I am totally loveable."
"Itís safe to express my feelings." "I
can be as loud as I like." Write it twenty times,
adding responses. Do this every day for twenty-eight
days and you may well find a lot of stuck energy
emerging. Some responses may be a word; some might
consist of pages of thoughts or memories. To reinforce
the message, try saying your affirmation to yourself in
a mirror. Note: the best affirmations are the ones which
initially make your skin crawl!
DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLEíS NEGATIVITY
Once we have an understanding of our own nature, we
are immediately in a much stronger position. When we are
functioning from our true nature, rather from behind the
walls, screens and other defenses of repressed energy,
we gain a wonderful sense of peace and clarity. Often we
automatically find that our relationships - with
friends, family, workmates, complete strangers - are
much clearer, more honest, more straightforward. When we
no longer have to keep up the effort of pretending to be
someone we are not, we can use all our energy to enjoy
However, just because we have sorted out ourselves
does not mean that everyone else will have sorted out
their own stuck energy. So, until the world becomes full
of enlightened energyworkers, we have to learn how to
deal with other peopleís stuck stuff.
It can be very unpleasant. You know the kind of
people Iím talking about. You feel your spirits dip
when they walk up to you. You find youíre exhausted
after just a few moments talking to them. They seem like
psychic vampires, sucking out all your energy, all your
vitality. Or they are just sheer unpleasant - nasty
bullies, emotional blackmailers, manipulative, sly and
Before you do anything else, you should feel pity for
them. You know just how unpleasant it feels to walk
around loaded down with heavy stuck energy. So how do
you think they feel? In fact one of the strongest
techniques you can use is also the most simple. It
simply entails sending pure loving energy to the person
causing you grief. Hereís how:
- Center yourself and focus on your breathing. Note:
you can do this anywhere without the person even
- Now direct your awareness to your heart chakra -
feel the chakra spinning steadily.
- Imagine a pure golden-white stream of divine
universal energy come shooting through your crown chakra
and down into your heart. The whole chakra becomes full
to bursting with this wonderful, loving, pure energy.
- Send it out to the difficult person. Imagine it
hitting them in the heart chakra and infusing their body
with love and light. Be careful not to play games with
this. Just send the loving energy - donít try to be
clever and send wishes (i.e. Let them be nice or
anything like that!).
Thatís it. I used to use this on a very difficult
boss I once had. She would come in like an avenging fury
and the whole office would beg me to do something about
her. I used to quietly sit and direct this energy at
her, repeating, "I love you. I love you. I love
you." Which was very hard work! But it did work.
She could tell something was happening as well because
she would look suspicious and say "What are you
doing to me?" But thatís the great thing about
energywork - you leave no clues!
Whilst the technique above is very useful for people
you know and have to deal with on a day to day basis
(because, eventually, it just might nudge them into a
new way of being), there are other methods which are
more effective for dealing with strangers, enabling you
to keep your inner peace intact.
The classic protection technique is the energy
bubble. Iíve come across this - or forms of it - in
virtually every tradition under the sun. Itís very
simple, very effective and can be used anywhere. This is
- Breathe into your solar plexus and feel that chakra
strong and responsive, centering you. Breathe into your
root chakra and feel that chakra powerful, rooting you
to the earth. Breathe into your third eye chakra,
feeling that chakra respond with clear vision and
foresight. The chakras link up so it feels as though a
rod of pure light is holding up your backbone.
- Now pull in pure energy from the universe through
the crown chakra. Bring it down to the solar plexus and,
from there, let it burst out around you into a bubble of
pure brilliant light which totally surrounds your body
like a balloon.
- Know that no negative energy can come in through
this powerful protective bubble - you are completely
There are variations on this. I find the bubble the
most effective for generally nerve-wracking situations
or with people I find uncomfortable. If, however, you
feel someone is deliberately targeting you with negative
energy you might like to go one step further. Follow the
first steps of the bubble technique - linking in with
the chakras and pulling down the energy. But this time
send it out into the shape of a large box - whose
outward-facing sides are mirrors. This way, the negative
energy which is thrown at you will bounce straight back
to the person who sent it which can be a very
uncomfortable experience for them. Once you have
"disarmed" them this way, it could be the time
to send that loving energy (if you are feeling
GUARDIANS AND ALLIES
Despite the huge cynicism, agnosticism and atheism of
this confused time, many people do have a strong sense
of faith - if not for a particular religion, then for a
deep-rooted spirituality. Many of you may feel you have
a particular guardian or guardians - angels, gods,
goddesses, spirits, ancestors, animal allies. If so, by
all means call on them for help in your energy-shielding
exercises. You could have the four archangels guarding
your bubble - or infuse the bubble with the symbol for
Ohm or an image of the Buddha. Or reverberate a holy
name through the bubble.
I work a lot with the Native American power animals -
simply because they resonate for me and seem to help me
a lot. You could try this simple visualization to call
on their energy. I use this whenever I need an energetic
boost - when I have to go on a long journey, when I have
to give a presentation or have an important meeting. Itís
very comforting and surprisingly energizing.
- Stand upright and breathe into your solar plexus.
- Feel your feet firmly on the ground, connecting with
Mother Earth. Remember your roots, keep steady and true.
You are a child of the Earth.
- Feel your head reaching up, connecting with Father
Sky. Your feet may be rooted to the Earth but your
aspirations reach to the sky, to the universe beyond.
You are also a child of the Heavens.
- Now before you rises up the great animal spirit of
Eagle. A huge powerful eagle turns and looks at you with
his glimmering, all-seeing eye. You nod your head in
acknowledgment and thanks. Eagle turns and spreads his
wings. Now you will see through Eagleís eyes, enjoying
his sharp far-sighted vision.
- Behind you rears up another huge figure - this time
a great grizzly bear. You turn and look up into her
sharp eyes, noticing her huge claws and her vast weight
and strength. She is fiercely protective - who better to
guard your back? Thank Bear and turn back, secure with
her powerful presence behind you.
- You hear a sniff to your right, as if someone is
trying to attract your attention. Itís Coyote, his
bright eyes dancing, his tongue lolling out as if he
were laughing. Coyote is quick-talking, smart and a born
negotiator. He can help you in any tricky situation. Be
wary though - heís also a trickster. Donít let
yourself become too clever for your own good or Coyoteís
strength becomes a weakness.
- Finally you feel a warm, sweet breath on your left
arm. Turn and look into the dark melting eyes of
Buffalo. She stands four-square, solid and dependable.
Buffalo will help off-set tricky Coyote, keeping you
grounded and stable.
- Spend a moment feeling these great guardians all
around you. Now you can walk into any situation feeling
protected and powerful. (Remember at the end of the
meeting or day to thank your guardians - itís
traditional to offer a prayer and a pinch of tobacco or
This is a revised extract from my book, The Energy
Other books to read for help with inner peace include
The Five Minute Healer, The Smudging and
Blessings Book, Live Well, Sacred Rituals
at Home and Mind, Body, Spirit (which is now
out in paperback in the US).
I have two new books Ė Therapies for a Healthy
Body, and Therapies for Emotional Wellbeing (but they
are only on special order in the US from Amazon, I note
Ė so maybe not so helpful!).
Read more of Jane Alexanderís work
on her website: www.janealexander.org
Copyright © 2003 Jane
Alexander. All Rights Reserved.
Jane Alexander is a UK-based writer on natural health, holistic living and
contemporary spirituality. She has written sixteen
books on holistic (and soulful) living, including the
bestselling Spirit of the Home (Thorsons), The
Energy Secret (Element) and The Five Minute
Healer (Simon & Schuster). Her website, www.janealexander.org
is full of tips for living soulfully.