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Understanding Energy: What ‘Energy’ Is, and is Not

by Elena Francesca Barbiero(more info)

listed in energy medicine, originally published in issue 199 - October 2012

It may seem difficult to grasp the concept of an ‘energy’ emanating from us as human beings, and this energy having also ‘healing’ properties, or ‘physical’ attributes, able to affect the environment or other beings: after all, most of us cannot see this energy. This energy though, is an integral part of our being and of all living beings, and, aware or unaware, we use it, gain or lose it, replenish it or deplete it, cherish it or abuse it every single day of our lives: it’s simply not possible to divorce our being from such ‘energy’. So, why is it so difficult to grasp this concept?

Understanding energy

The reasons are varied and complex: summing it up, one may say that Western culture has evolved in such a way to favour left-brain activities over right-brain activities. Why this has happened, has even more complex reasons: let’s just say that Western culture has had a major impact in developing medical science and technology. The mind has been a wonderful servant to the many who creatively explored the nature and the workings of the universe in which we live: make no mistake, any form of ‘exploration’ is the creative response to a challenge or a problem or a mystery, so the right brain is never really excluded from the works. ‘Progress’ is to be praised in many ways, as quality life is nowadays much better for many more people. If we can integrate our left-brain ‘training’ with expanding our (generally) undeveloped right-brain side, we can expect that the quality of our lives will be better, not only on the material level, but also on the emotional, mental and spiritual levels too.

‘Energy’ falls into the category of activities that originate from the right-brain. The fact that one cannot see energy, or has lost through conditioning the ability to experience it, doesn’t mean that energy is not there: human ‘energy’ is generally invisible to the spectrum available to the human eye. Such energy has a ‘physical’ quality. It can be described as ‘physical’ in the same way electricity or the energy used to transmit the radio or a mobile phone conversation is: you cannot see these waves because of the limitations of human vision. The fact is that such ‘waves’ can be used to produce an effect and above all something that may serve humans: the same can be said about the human energy field. How can we experience our energy field? And, above all, how can we learn to use our energy field to benefit us?

The funny thing is that you may already be using your energy field in an intuitive way, and perhaps you are not aware of it. I’ll give you a few simple examples:

  • Mary and Jo are good friends, yet, after spending time with Jo, Mary feels very tired and often develops a headache;
  • Strangely enough, Alex knew something had happened to Mark, when Mark had a car accident: she was very worried, she knew something had happened;
  • Kate felt very comfortable with Jake, even they had never met: she knew very little about him, but there was something about him that inspired trust. His presence felt peaceful and calming, and that was exactly what Kate needed that day;
  • Jill was thinking about her sister, when her phone rang: it was her sister!
  • Simon could not explain why, but he had a bad feeling about that place. The house was very clean and in good state, there was simply something about it;
  • Joanna always felt exhausted after her tube journey, which was a real problem, because she had to travel by tube at least two hours a day. She also found that nature was missing from the office: too many computers, too much noise: there wasn’t a single plant in sight, and she really missed a bit of green;
  • Dogs and animals seemed to always really like Simon: Simon had a magic way with them!
  • He has aged ten years, since his wife left him;
  • She is a different person, since they split up;
  • After her usual walk in the nearby park, Lyn felt refreshed and happy: it seemed that walking was really healthy after all!
  • Candles and crystals give a room a gentle and dreamy atmosphere.
  • …. (you add your experience here!)

I am sure one or more of the points above may apply to you! And I am sure you can add something to that list! As you can see, people are often not aware of tuning into the energy field of the external environment and living beings, and ‘reading’ it; yet, it’s exactly what we do. Our life is constituted by a continuous series of interactions between our ‘energy field’ and the environment/other living beings: the simple fact of coming into contact with a certain person or place, will generate an interaction between your energy field and the energy field of the place / person / being. It’s simply unavoidable. Such interactions can also happen if there is a distance between you and a person: like mobile phone waves, energy can travel across. The fact that we cannot see this energy at work, doesn’t mean it isn’t working; yet I do understand when faced with scepticism! After all, the above goes against everything we have learnt from our material reality, through culture, years of left-brained schooling and sometimes denial. It is much easier to not take responsibility for the ‘wave’ one emits, on the grounds that it’s immaterial! The fact is, our energy field does have an effect on other people and the environment; and equally they affect us.

This is a very important point: which brings me to the next. Experiencing ‘energy’ is very much a personal journey: I am a person with certain abilities and character, so I will experience ‘energy’ in my own way. You may experience being aware of energy in a totally different way; you may for example become more aware of beautiful sounds and music, and be able to create such sounds; or you may take your artistic talents to the next level; or you may become more intuitive when managing your company and people; and so on. There is though something that is universal to all: when working with energy, your energy needs to be as clean as possible. I want to stress how important this is: ‘energy’ is real, and through energy you can affect people, positively or negatively, often subconsciously. You need to cleanse energetically on a regular basis. You wouldn’t go to the office wearing dirty clothes, unshaven and if you had your last shower three days ago! Holding on to negativity is the equivalent of the above. You want to go around with a clean, shiny energy field! There are many reasons for that: I’ll just list a few. Like attracts like. Positivity attracts positivity. You will have more disposable energy. You will be happier. You will be able to manifest abundance and blessings in your life. You will be surrounded by people who are on the same wave-length i.e.. happy, positive, balanced. There are many simple and quick exercises that will help you cleanse your energy field: you will find a list at the end of this tutorial. You can pick and choose the ones that are more suited to your personality and lifestyle! As a rule of thumb, the more you relax, balance work with leisure, embrace positive feelings / attitudes, look after your physical health, associate with positive people, work doing something you love, the more your energy field will reflect strength and vibrancy.

Once you make a conscious effort to keep you energy field clean and vibrant, you can start exploring the various types of ‘energy’. Let’s start with the two you will encounter on a regular basis: people and places.

Environmental Energy

Unless we are faced with a totally natural environment, chances are that places are also imbued with the energetic imprint left by the people who occupy those places. So, unless you live in a forest, the city or village or house or office you are in, are influenced by the ‘energy’ imprint people leave behind, day in day out. That’s right! Objects such as furniture, clothing, walls, can and will absorb the vibration we emit when we occupy that space: how strongly depends on exposure basically. Your bed, where you spend at least eight hours a night hopefully, will be ‘soaked’ in your energy; so will objects that are used by you on a daily basis; so will your home and belongings. That imprint will last a long, long time. There are people who are able to read that energy, and who will intuitively describe the state of mind and emotion of the person an object belongs to; or they may be able to describe the external surroundings, the environment the object was placed in.

Sometimes the ‘energy’ of a place is so strong that it will influence the people living there; sometimes the opposite may be true, a person’s energy is so strong that it may ‘turn a place around’.

I was referring to a natural environments and forests for a reason, a few lines above: nature and plants have the wonderful effect of rebalancing auric imbalances, always and without fail.


Spend an hour in a forest or a very natural environment: write down your impressions, and how you feel; notice how your body responds to the environment. Do the same thing in a shopping mall, a market or an office! Notice the difference, notice also what thoughts come into your mind. It might surprise you!

Energy and People

We are so used to interacting with people on a verbal / logical level, that we often fail to notice any subtle energetic interaction that go on while talking / spending time together. It’s not as difficult as it may seem, to look at a person from the energetic point of view: imagine looking at a beautiful painting, or at an amazing sculpture, or a beautiful sunset. Picturing this, can you feel that imagery touching your feelings, giving you inspiration, filling you with awe? That  sense, that senses the beauty and savours it, is the sense that opens your body / mind system to increased awareness of ‘energy’. You may understand now why ‘energy’ is a right brain ‘issue’. It goes beyond what you merely see, it helps you feel with your eyes, if that makes sense: so there is an added dimension to the purely physical. The painting may be an object, but it’s imbued with the artist’s spirit, that talks to you through the imagery, the colour, the ‘story’ of the painting. The sculpture seems to have always been in the stone, only to be discovered and be brought to life by the spirit of the artist: it seems to have a ‘soul’ to itself! A natural scenery such as a sunset, or the full moon, or the view from a mountain is much more than a visual pleasure: there is an ‘energy’, an indecipherable beauty in it that makes you stop and watch, and fill you with wonder.

You can easily see that it’s difficult to give a logical explanation to ‘why’ we feel like that, if we see the world in a purely material sense. If instead we are conscious of the fact that there are energetic interactions within the environment and between people, it becomes suddenly easier to understand why we feel the way we feel faced with the above.

Every single person has an ‘energetic imprint’. This ‘energetic’ imprint is given by their emotional / mental / spiritual state at that very moment in time. Generally, people who are happy and healthy have a strong energy field. Physical illness can weaken the energy field; but also negative emotions such as anger, envy, hatred. A healthy supportive relationship can strengthen the energy field of the individual.

There are basically three main things that can happen when two energy fields (two people) interact. It’s far more complex than this: as you can imagine there are many scenarios and many types of people and situations, and levels of intimacy in communication. I would like you to focus on the following scenarios so that you can start attuning your energy and awareness, very gently, in everyday situations.  Energetic interactions can be:


Example: the speaker was truly inspirational. She spoke to a small group of people, who seemed to be entrance by her words: she seemed to speak from her heart. Everyone in the small group felt they had gained something invaluable from what they had learnt: spirits were high.

This happens when we interact with a person who has an enhanced spiritual / emotional / mental understanding or development in comparison to ours. People who are truly ‘superior’ never make you feel patronized, they make you feel inspired. They ‘energy’ brings ours up, and showers us with ‘cleaner’ energy; they often do that very consciously.


Example: we talked and talked and it was lovely to catch up with my old friend.


Example: my neighbour seems to be very lonely, and I like her but she always stops me for long chats and I feel so tired afterwards, almost mentally drained! I really don’t know how to avoid this!

The majority of people are totally unaware of depleting others. This happens when one’s energy field is weak: the person will instinctively seek comfort and help through interacting with other human beings.  Have you noticed how some people are incredibly nice, but you feel very tired after spending time with them? This is purely an energetic issue. If after spending time with someone you feel mentally drained, or have a headache for example, it might be that you have unwittingly given them energy.

I hope the above has given you an idea of how to understand and use ‘energy’: please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries or questions on the subject! This was a simplified and brief introduction to the subject, but there is so much more to be said and discovered about this most fascinating (and most neglected) aspect of our being.


Slate Joe PhD. Aura Energy for Health Healing and Balance. Llewllyn Publications. Minnesota. 2000.

Slate Joe PhD. Psychic Vampires. Llewllyn Publications. Minnesota. 2008.

Tolle Eckhart. The Power of Now. Hodder & Stoughton. London. 2005.

Singer Deavid. Becoming who we are, metamorphosis and people with learning disabilities. David Singer. Taunton. 2005.

Brennan Barbara. Hands of light: guide to healing through the energy field. Bantam New Age Books. 1998.



  1. Julie said..

    Brilliant article. I need help in strengthening my energy. I am a physiotherapist. I feel so drained by people and lots want to latch into me and I feel helpless to get away from the situation. I work in a small room with blinds closed I the windows and I feel cramped and annoyed a lot. I live with my parents and I feel my dad has always pushed his energy on me! But now I have depression and find I am too low to move out or change my circumstances. I am working on healing my past emotional wounds with theya healing/Eft! Good diet and exercise. Plus I feel I am a bit draining of others energy possibly. Inherited the needy gene possibly! Anyway I want to change all this and strengthen my aura and get the hell out of that job that does not fit my personality and feels oppressed to the max!!

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About Elena Francesca Barbiero

Elena Francesca Barbiero BSc (Hons) ITEC is an experienced complementary therapist who specializes in Emotional Freedom Technique in combination with a variety of techniques/therapies, such as Reflexology, Reiki Healing, Metamorphic Technique, Holistic Massage and Aromatherapy to mention a few.

Elena has worked as a therapist since 2002 in established London clinics and is also a contributor to Positive Health PH Online. She is a member of AAMET International (Association for the Advancement of Meridian Energy Techniques). Elena may be contacted via

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