As a method of discovering and processing where that energy originates, you might turn to the foundational principles of the chakras, “which refer to degrees of consciousness in the form of energy at different points in our body,” says Ayurvedic expert Sahara Rose, author of Discover Your Dharma. Like India’s traditional medical system, Ayurveda, the chakra system is derived from the Vedas, a large body of ancient Indian scriptures, says Sahara. And the chakras are referenced within Ayurveda as an avenue to ascertain energetic imbalances, and help realign both body and mind.
"If a chakra is spinning too fast, that would be considered overactive. If it's spinning too slowly, it's under-active. And the flow of that energy is determined by our thoughts, feelings, memories, and experiences." —Parita Shah, Reiki practitioner
You can picture chakras as wheels of energy in the body, which can either spin in balance or out of balance, says Parita Shah, a Reiki practitioner and energy healer: “If a chakra is spinning too fast, that would be considered overactive. If it's spinning too slowly, it's under-active. And the flow of that energy is determined by our thoughts, feelings, memories, and experiences.”
We tend to notice that energy more keenly when it feels negative—perhaps manifesting as exhaustion, anger, helplessness, and even jealousy—all of which may be rooted in unprocessed traumas, emotional wounds, or limiting beliefs, says Sahara. According to Bridget Ambrose, an energy medicine healer who’s studied Reiki and cranio-sacral therapy, we physically feel that negative energy by way of a lower, denser vibration, as a chakra spins out of balance.
And if that energy is present in a space, it’s possible to feel it, even if it doesn’t stem from your own body. “We all feel and respond to each others’ vibrations, even if we’re not aware of it,” says Ambrose. Part of the reason why may be linked to auras. “Just as we have energy present in our bodies, so, too, each of our bodies is surrounded by a field of constantly changing energy,” says Ambi Kavanagh, Reiki practitioner and author of Chakras & Self-Care. And when negative energy from someone else interacts with that auric field, it can make us feel upset, anxious, or otherwise off-balance, as well.
“We’re much more intuitive than we recognize,” says Shah. “If you pause and ask yourself what it is that you’re picking up from a certain space, you’ll be surprised by how much energy you are deriving from other people.” As such, it’s essential to: identify the types of negative energy we can hold on to; signs that you’re storing negative energy even if you don’t feel like you are; and find ways to make your own energetic field resilient to both internal and external negative forces.
Below, find tips from Sahara, Ambrose, Shah, and Kavanagh on types of negative energy, signs of negative energy, and how to get rid of negative energy whenever (and from wherever) it arises.
Types of negative energy stored in your chakras
1. Negative self-talk and self-stories
According to Shah, the main negative energy she observes in clients while balancing chakras comes from ourselves. "It's very much about the stories that we're telling ourselves and...the cyclical patterns that we're replaying in our mind," she says.
If you find yourself saying something like “Ugh, I’m so stupid,” or “I really shouldn’t have done that,” you’re likely engaging in negative self-stories, which can be stored in your body much easier than you might realize.
2. Negative energy that comes from cultural programming
In her practice, Shah also encounters negative energy that comes from cultural programming, which are parameters for how we “should” behave and converse that we get from the culture surrounding us—which is different for all of us.
“For example, if you were taught that women shouldn't be so expressive, that might be a blockage in your throat chakra,” says Shah. Similarly, if you were taught that men shouldn’t be so emotional, this cultural programming can lead to a blockage.
3. Ancestral programing that stems from family lineage
Depending on what our ancestors and family members have gone through, we could also see negative energy from ancestral programming, says Shah.
Because family members often talk about their thoughts, experiences, and emotions—and because we tend to feed off of the energy of others—the stories we hear from our family members also affect our chakras as well as the energy we hold.
“If [your ancestors have] gone through a world war or famine, they might be passing down stories of scarcity, and that will impact us,” Shah says.
4. Unaddressed emotions
"As we go through life, we have experiences that affect the quality and quantity of energy within the chakras," says Ambrose.
And because our feelings affect the choices we make, the same as our choices influence how energy moves in our bodies, unfelt or unaddressed emotions can build up as stagnant or negative energy, which affects our health and vitality, Ambrose adds.
Signs that you're storing negative energy
1. Affected mood
Shah says that the negative energy we hold on to can affect our mood because we’re holding on to something that’s not serving us for longer than we should (i.e., not at all).
Of course, there’s no way to stop experiencing emotions, but “learning to be present through the difficult themes in our life is the way into healing,” says Ambrose.
2. Physical symptoms
“Anything that doesn't feel really balanced in the mind, you can also manifest physical symptoms,” says Shah, adding that a physical indicator of unbalanced chakras might be having aches and pains that you didn’t have before.
3. Sleep issues and exhaustion
According to Shah, an inability to fall or stay asleep as well as noticing exhaustion—the type that doesn’t get better after a good night’s sleep—are indicators that your chakras could be blocked.
4. Affected relationships
“Negative energy can also affect our relationships and how we show up, and how we express ourselves in different relationships,” says Shah.
Perhaps you’re normally a great and compassionate communicator and have recently noticed that you’re more irritable when talking to your loved ones about a given issue. This could be a signal that you have a chakra blockage.
Methods for getting rid of negative energy, using the chakra system
1. Rethink the "negative" framework
Even if it feels negative, this kind of energy is not exactly “bad,” but instead considered shadowed or imbalanced, says Sahara. “Shadow only means that we have not shined the light on these issues, and these shadows become more noticeable in others when we have not done the work ourselves.”
She suggests reframing your mindset to consider this shadow energy as present for a reason—to help you grow and release unhelpful preconceptions. To do that, Sahara suggests asking yourself questions about the negative emotions you might be feeling, and then journaling about them in order to bring them into awareness. “Doing so will raise the outer layers of your energetic field, as well as help align the chakras,” she says.
Another helpful avenue: breathwork. It’s a great way to feel and process an emotion, rather than just dismissing it as negative, Sahara says: “It helps the emotion move through you and release somatically.”
When you pivot from a negative framework to a learning perspective, introspection becomes easier because you’re not afraid of undesired energy. This can ultimately help you make a plan for how to be in alignment with yourself and your values so that you can release negative energy and prevent it from happening (or at least from getting bad) altogether.
2. Detach yourself from energy that isn't yours
Setting healthy boundaries is a key way to steer clear of situations that could provoke negative feelings internally or put you in the presence of them from other people. It’s okay to say "no" to that person, that event, or that favor if it’s something that doesn’t align with your current energy.
Not to mention, you can set internal energetic boundaries, too, in order to avoid processing other peoples’ negative vibes. "You can ask yourself, ‘What feelings are mine, and what feelings am I taking on, perhaps to help someone else, or just by being human and being a sponge for other people's energy?'" says Shah. Then give yourself permission to let go of everything that isn’t yours to harbor.
For example, if you notice that your energy is off after a friend emotionally dumps on you, it’s helpful to remind yourself that the energy from that friend isn’t yours to begin with. Similarly, if another person in your life—whether that’s a family member or colleague—brings something to your attention and you don’t feel great about it, ask yourself if that energy comes from internal or external factors. If the answer is the latter, it’s a safe bet to release that energy for your well-being.
3. Take a bath
Because it's is a powerful cleansing agent, water is easily incorporated into your restorative self-care practices. Taking a bath, says Ambrose, is a good way of clearing stagnant energy.
"This is a wonderful way to purify the aura of negative energy, and re-nourish your spirit," says Ambrose. "Adding in some essential oils such as eucalyptus, cedar wood, and lavender, along with some Epsom or sea salt works to calm the body, mind, and spirit."
Additionally, being in a body of water allows you to be more present with yourself. As you bathe, think about what energy you need to release and let the worries and negativity wash away as the bath water drains.
4. Practice a chakra-balancing meditation
Start by visualizing these wheels of energy along the spine, suggests Shah. “The red root chakra is at the base of the spine, the orange sacral chakra is in the pelvic area, the yellow solar plexus chakra is at the stomach (right above the belly button), the green heart chakra is at the center of the heart, the blue throat chakra is at the neck, the indigo third-eye chakra is at the center of your forehead, and the white crown chakra is right above your scalp,” she says.
Bring these different color placements to your mind, and breathe into each one, giving yourself permission to expand the energy with your breath, she says. This will help you develop a relationship with the chakras and determine where any negative energy might be stemming from.
Shah adds that you can incorporate crystals here that are aligned with your chakras. For instance, the root chakra’s color is red, so holding something like red jasper, ruby, vanadinite, garnet, or rubellite during visualization can help amplify the chakra-balancing benefits in terms of releasing negative energy.
5. Incorporate mindfulness moments throughout your day
You don’t have to settle down on your meditation pillow to give your mind a boost—smaller breaks are helpful as well when working with heavy thoughts and feelings. “Throughout the day, take a moment to pause, feel your feet as they connect to the ground, even place your hand on your belly, and take three deep breaths,” Ambrose says.
Mindfulness can help you release negative thoughts by helping you fully engage with the present moment, one in which the anxieties or worries of tomorrow (or maybe even five minutes from the present moment) don’t exist.
6. Spend time in nature
The Earth is one of the most powerful (and free) energy healers that we have, says Shah, and allowing yourself to be supported by it can be deeply restorative. “Most nature spots are full of negative ions, which, contrary to their name, actually help us with creating positive energy,” says Kavanagh. “Forest bathing has become very popular and is a great way to get grounded and centered, and remove yourself from fight-or-flight mode—but you don't need to make it complicated. A simple walk down a quiet tree-lined street can often shift your energy.”
Kavanagh also suggests time spent near or in the ocean if possible. Whether you’re swimming or dipping your toes in the water, or simply breathing in the salty air and listening to the sounds of the waves, you’ll find that it’s a powerful way to bring your energy into equilibrium and feel more centered as a result, she says.
If you find it difficult to take a walk down the block or a drive down to the ocean—whether because you’re busy with work or in a landlocked state—stepping outside to get vitamin D from the sun can also help you center yourself and release negative energy.
7. Practice visualization to channel a more positive energy
Ambrose says that she visualizes the following scenario when she leaves her house and returns back home: “I often imagine myself being surrounded and protected in a beautiful warm light that holds all the wisdom, sweetness, and love from the universe. I visualize my entire body filling up with this light, every cell being bathed in it. I imagine it surrounding me. Once I feel, sense, and know that it is, I then send it out to any situation, person, or place that could use a higher vibration.”
You can also visualize yourself having a healing energy pouring through your body and traveling along your spine, suggests Shah: “You might start to feel certain body parts get warm or you might feel tingling or even pressure. You could also see some colors. All of those things are just indicators that energy is shifting and releasing.”
According to Shah, crystals can also be powerful to include as part of visualization practices. Like you can use red crystals to balance the root chakra, you can also use yellow crystals (for your solar plexus chakra above your belly button), green crystals (for your heart chakra at the center of your heart), blue crystals (for your throat chakra at your neck), indigo (for your third-eye chakra on the center of your forehead), and white crystals (for your crown chakra stop your scalp) to amplify your visualization of the respective release of negative energy in each chakra.
8. Say affirmations to yourself
Shah says that the key here is to say affirmations that are: in the present tense (“I am at ease,” “I am beautiful,” or “I am strong,” for instance); devoid of “negative words”; and in line with each chakra. For instance, if you feel a blockage in your throat chakra, you might say to yourself, “I am able to speak the things that I feel.”
Additionally, Shah notes that these present-tense affirmations are “asserting what you are ready to call in and what you naturally feel.” This practice’s aim isn’t for you to feel uncomfortable—it’s a way of “being okay with what you already know to be true inside of yourself.”
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