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We’ve had some wacky stuff going on over here for about six months now. My husband’s health issue is the most pressing, of course, but there are other little annoyances, too. The capper came on Monday when I found out about something disturbing going on with a professional group I belong to. There was just too much bad energy and bad air in the house, so I decided to do something about it. (Note: I know this sounds crazy, and will probably move me from crunchy-granola into the wacko hippie category.) I needed to smudge the house with sage, an herb that has been known to clear bad energy.

Smudging is a process of burning sage, walking from room to room while either praying or offering up intentions of clearing negative or stagnant energy from a home. You can also smudge a person, gathering the smoke around their body, and moving it from chakra to chakra — the body’s seven major energy centers. I discovered the technique while writing a story for The New York Times. Covering that story — Indian Ritual Taken to a Wider Audience — was my first introduction to the idea of energy work. Sure, growing up Italian, I was well aware of spirits. My grandmother used to talk about the Malocchio, or Evil Eye, that could curse someone so bad luck would befall them. But there was never any discussion about personal energy. I never even thought about the existence of energy. Not until, as a reporter on that story, I actually got to participate in the sweat lodge. It was life-changing. I will freely admit I was terrified in that lodge. It was hot, but, in retrospect, probably about as hot as the rooms where I’ve taken Bikram yoga. It was dark, but not completely. It was jarring to listen to. But it was also incredibly unifying. You could feel the energy of the collective group. It was electric. It made me aware of what is inside every one of us.

Very soon after, I got my first taste of real energy work when my friend Annmarie performed Reiki on me. (You know, the Reiki that Dr. Oz discussed on his program a few weeks ago?) Reiki works under the premise that, in addition to blood, we have energy that moves throughout our bodies through channels. When energy gets stuck or stagnant, our bodies and minds suffer. Reiki practitioners bring energy from the universe through the top of their heads and out of their hands, transferring it to whomever needs it. I’ve had Reiki given to me. As a Reiki practitioner, I’ve given Reiki to many people. As a journalist, however, it took me a while to believe in it. I was originally highly skeptical. I still am, actually. Every time I give it or get it I go into the process thinking, “Wow, this is a bunch of bunk.” Then I feel the energy and it blows me away. Every time. And I believe again.

So back to smudging. If energy is neither created or lost, it makes sense that there is energy inside our home. We live here. We expend energy. We shape its character with the way we interact with our surroundings. I could absolutely see how energy could stagnate and turn negative. So on Monday night, as I have in the past, I lit a bundle of sage (purchased at Whole Foods), and started the process to make it positive again. I started in the kitchen and made my way around the house. I paused in every corner. I moved into the middle of every room making circular movements with the smoke. I spent extra time in my office, smudging my computer, my keyboard, my phone. And yesterday — Tuesday — was a really good day.

Of course, now my house smells like sage, which sort of smells like a Pink Floyd concert. But it’s worth it. Definitely worth it. Could it be a mind-over-matter thing? Sure. Maybe. Could my outlook be more positive so I am able to focus more on the positive things in my life? Maybe? But could this energy stuff, as Dr. Oz so eloquently pointed out, have some true merit? I’d like to think so. I’ll let you know how the rest of the week turns out.

Have you ever heard of energy work? What do you think? Do we have energy, and can we control it? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

One Response to “Energy Works: Getting Smudged to Get Clean”

  1. MarthaandMe says:

    Like you, I am skeptical of things like this, but I do think that sometimes you need to just do SOMETHING to try to change things and simply the act of doing it is what matters. And while reiki sounds hard to believe to me too, I can tell you that there is nothing more healing for me than having my husband touch me and be near me. So I really do believe energy can be transferred and directed.

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