I’m currently reading My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. I’m finding it truly fascinating and highlighting, Post-it® tabbing it, rereading and using all of the strategies I teach my students to use in Reading class. Writing for the general public, she communicates clearly the basic chemistry of neuroscience and neuroanatomy, such that I’m not overwhelmed with the medical terminology. As I read her account of the morning of her hemorrhagic stroke, the following sentence struck me.
“It was clear to me that this body functioned like a portal through which the energy of who I am can be beamed into a three-dimensional external space.”
She goes on to describe the energies she perceived when different people entered her hospital room, along with the effects of those energies upon her. Aha!
We tend to throw the word “energy” around like a feather, nonchalantly, as if it’s weightless (in the figurative sense). The law of conservation of energy states that it an isolated system energy can change form, but never be created or destroyed. What Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor seems to want us to know is that although we appear to be separate individual beings, we’re not isolated systems and that our energy is constantly being beamed out to others.
I began to think of all of the “energyisms” I’ve heard.
- The air was thick with positive/negative energy.
- I sensed a positivity/negativity in the air.
- You could cut the tension (negative energy) in that room with a knife.
- I got some good/bad vibes from him/her.
- The energy of the crowd was palpable, pulsing.
- A feeling of darkness (negative energy) filled the sunlit room when he/she entered.
- I felt drained of all energy the minute I saw him/her.
- I felt reenergized by his/her presence.
- Just knowing he/she was there made me feel hopeful/more alive/energetic and connected.
- We are /aren’t on the same page. My energy feels in sync/out of sync with his/hers.
Then I thought, what about the energy sensing ability of blind, deaf, or blind and deaf people? Research reveals that many people with sensory impairments report their remaining senses are heightened. And, although there is much validity in the science of body language, and intonation can make all the difference in how a statement is perceived, the point is that we don’t have to see a person’s face or hear the tone of their voice to “feel” the energy that they are beaming out.
Not a day goes by that I don’t, and I presume you do also, have the experience of sensing someone else’s energy. However, the “textbook example” that I always find myself returning to is of my visit 25 years ago to the parish house of an Episcopalian priest named Faulton Hodge in Glendale Springs, NC. My then-husband was the new minister of a Presbyterian church just down the road and Father Hodge extended the hand of brotherhood and hospitality to our family and invited the two of us to join a host of others for lunch. Try as I might, I could not even tell you what we ate that day, but what I have never forgotten is the almost surreal sense of peace, love and “oneness with all” that I felt upon entering that kitchen/dining room. Imagine an ethereal experience in which there are trumpets heralding, rainbows illuminating, and angels singing, and you have an idea of the extraordinary energy that bathed me as I entered that room. I do solemnly swear that there was no Kool-Aid involved, no Ecstasy, no-one had spiked the punch, or passed the wine.
Although I’ve traveled far and experienced much, I had never before and have never since experienced the depth, or breadth of what I felt in that parish house. I can only describe it as a conglomeration of recognition, love, and acceptance that felt like each of us were valence electrons dancing to the same symphony of life, being welcomed in and released by other electrons. I frequented the house many times after that and the phenonmenon was never altered. Reading Taylor’s book, I was reminded of that long ago parish house experience and felt akin to her in an albeit minute way, with her experience inevitably being bigger, brighter, and involving many more joules than mine.
Oh, to go forward and live out my days with that knowledge, to embrace and utilize it and never file it away. But I didn’t. I do remember talking with my then husband about it, but for whatever reason, life happened, and although I didn’t consciously let it slip away, I didn’t make it a point to investigate the concept further or greet every sunrise with self- reflection on the energy that I brought to every waking moment of my journey. However, unconsciously, that experience shaped the rest of my life as a measure of what it means to truly commune with others and what acceptance and love for our fellow brothers and sisters looks and feels like.
My good news is that because I picked up Jill’s book, here I am, not at a happy ending, but at the next happy chapter, being conscious and cognizant once again, relating all of this to you, the rest of the world, and pledging to make every effort to remain aware, of the energy that I emit and also of the energy being beamed to me.
It’s my hope that you will too.
Peace and Love