Do you walk around drained and exhausted because your so-called friends talk your ear off or dump their problems on you? Are you affected by those snide, little comments that your parents or siblings make at the dinner table? Have you ever experienced a sob sister spilling her guts and leaving you feeling drained while she went right along with her day as if nothing happened? Has traffic drained your energy or caused you to go into a tizzy? Well, if you have any interaction with humans I’m sure you’ve had a little experience with some, if not all of these scenarios. Thankfully, Dr. Judith Orloff has a solution! Her book Positive Energy eloquently and precisely teaches us how to recognize and combat “energy vampires” and live a free, autonomous life.
“There is an epidemic of exhaustion around. People are burned out, tired and depressed and they consider these states normal,” she explains. “In the book I wanted to offer techniques based on what I know traditionally as a physician and also what I know as an intuitive with an awareness of energy, spirituality and the body,” she adds. Dr. Orloff has years of medical training and she is also an intuitive, “I combine intuition, images, sights, smells, sounds, senses of energy and dreams in with my linear mind,” she explains.
Positive energy, she says, “is all the forces within us that are compassionate, loving, joyful, uplifting, connecting and heart centered.” Negative energy, she continues, “is anything that keeps us from our hearts such as fear, jealously, greed, malice, resentment and anger.” The first step in creating a constant flow of positive energy in our lives is to begin to recognize how we feel around certain people, in certain places or in specific situations. “In my practice and workshops, I’ve seen that people’s energy is drained the most in relationships and not just in romantic relationships, but in all kinds of relationships from obnoxious neighbors, to mother-in-laws, to traffic,” she explains. Her book lays out specific strategies to deal with these, “energy vampires without spinning out or becoming totally exhausted.”
She recommends everyone take an inventory of the people in their life and determine who gives off positive energy and who gives off negative energy. She says, “Begin to sense people not in terms of what they say or how they are on the surface, but how your energy feels around their energy.” She encourages us to make decisions based on energy and not conversations we have with people, what we think about a person or what society says we should think. “A patient of mine married a man who looked good on paper. He was funny, intelligent, etc., but she was an intuitive empath and got drained around his energy. When you sleep next to somebody everyday your energy fields overlap. She became quite exhausted and the marriage didn’t work out. She didn’t take energy into consideration when making her choice,” she explains. For brides to be and grooms to be, she recommends using energy as a criterion in a relationship. “You’ve got to use intuition to sense what’s invisible because there is so much information,” she says.
People resonate at a certain frequency; they give off an energy that is sometimes positive and sometimes negative. The body doesn’t end with just the physical. There is an energetic field that expands beyond the body, sometimes many feet beyond. An intuitive empath, according to Dr. Orloff, “is someone who can sense energy and someone who also absorbs it in their body.” Positive Energy is a tool kit for those sensitive people to take with them into the world so they are not overwhelmed by all the different energies. First, we must tap into a power greater than ourselves. “A spiritual energy is anything that connects you to a higher power or compassionate force or love or the great unknown,” she illuminates.
Once we recognize that there is energy coming from people and situations around us, we then choose how to handle that situation or person. After all, it’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s how we respond to what happens that matters. Two people can suffer the exact same circumstances and react or respond two completely different ways. Dr. Orloff says, “You’ve got to set the rational mind aside and trust that there is something else that operates.” That something else is intuition. It is like a muscle that needs to be developed. “It is not in your head,” she says. “It has nothing to do with your head and everything to do with your body and your intuition.”
Yoga ignites spiritual energy. “Yoga tremendously helps to tune into the energies of the body and align them. Thank god it’s being integrated into Western culture,” she says. When we open the physical energies, we open the spiritual energies and our feeling sense gets sharper and sharper. We begin to trust our intuition. Orloff gives examples such as the drama queen or the sob sister who constantly complains or the constant talker or the blamer. “All these types can drain your energy, their words can be like bullets that wound you,” she says.
“You have to learn how to be the Zen Master walking through the crowd, sensing it and noticing it, but not absorbing it in your body and that is the premise of the book,” she explains. The first thing she recommends is speaking up and setting boundaries. We must stop the phone conversation that takes too much of our time. And we have to keep doing it over and over again because the energy vampires will try to create the old patterns. We teach people how to treat us, but we can change the way we teach them by standing in our power. “We have to choose how to lead our life and do it firmly, sensitively and lovingly. The tone we use is very important,” she explains. “Then they will say, ‘Oh!’ And they will have to change.”
Other ways to set boundaries and ward off energy vampires include building an energetic force field around ourself while we are sitting with that person. She recommends taking baths as a great way to purify negative energy. Burning sage, meditation, walking, any kind of movement or stretching and breathing are all recommended ways of cleansing negative energy and creating a positive energy flow in our life. “We can never hold our breath around an energy vampire,” Dr. Orloff explains. “Our breath purifies. It’s like our natural pump or purifier, we must continue to breathe it out.”
It brings us back to living from the heart. “It is the new wave of medicine,” says Dr. Orloff. “This is how people want to work with their body, their intuitions and their spirituality. They want to bring this deeper heart-centered level into therapy.” It encourages us to come from our heart. “The essence of Positive Energy is the development of the heart,” she says. “How you treat yourself foremost and how you treat other people and how you treat your community and the world. You must strive to come from this place and of course, you’ll fail and you have to pick yourself up and come back to it again. But, that’s the whole dance of it.”
In the last chapter, Creating Abundance, Dr. Orloff describes that abundance is coming from the heart. “It’s about assimilating every bit of energy that I talk about in each chapter and balancing physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual energy and embodying that in relationships,” she adds. “We deserve that and we can attract that consciously.”