Monday, January 11, 2010

What's the Difference between Different Types of Energy Work?

[Note: See my YouTube channel for many examples of these techniques in action.]

As a healer in the field of energy medicine, people sometimes ask me what the differences are between all the types of energy work that are available. For example, people often ask if energy medicine is the same as Reiki. I usually explain that Reiki is one type of energy work, but it isn’t the only one. There are many kinds of energy work available. They can all be helpful.

Since I use several different energy methods (including Reiki) in my practice, I prefer to use the global term of “energy medicine” to describe what I do, rather than limiting myself to a specific technique. Since people often have questions about different energy work, I decided to write a post with my thoughts on this. Perhaps this may help people better understand the different approaches in energy work, when they are looking for a practitioner.

In organizing my thoughts around this topic, I took a look into my energetic toolbox and thought about all the modalities that I use in my work. I noticed that I can divide these techniques into roughly two groups: chi-based methods of energy work and non-chi based methods of energy work. The following are my notes about the similarities/differences between these two groups.

Chi-based Energy Healing
Some forms of energy work are what I call “chi-based energy healing,” meaning they work directly with the body’s bio-energetic field. Everybody has an aura which surrounds their body, which extends out about 4 feet around them. When there is an illness or an issue in the body, there is usually a distortion or disturbance in the body’s energy field. Chronic pain, for example, always appears to me as a blue-ish grey, dense or mottled looking blob in the aura. Chi-based healing methods strive to clear those imbalances so that the body can heal itself more easily. Chi-based approaches seem to fall into two subcategories: chakra based approaches and meridian-based approaches. Both are ways of working with the body's energy fields to restore balance.

Chakra Based Chi Healing Methods
Chakra based healing methods work with the chakras, or the 7 main power centers in the body. I won't go too much into a description of chakras here, as there is plenty of information available on them already. Suffice to say that the energy of the body's chakras is something that scientists are just now beginning to be able to measure, and I think that is really exciting. When chakras are blocked or not in alignment, people can experience feelings of discomfort. For example, one chakra may be overcompensating for another less developed one. Chakra based methods are ways chi energy can be channeled to release blockages or clear stagnant energies in the chakras. Sometimes this can bring about a deep release of energies and emotions which have been held in the body for a long time.

Examples of chakra-based healing methods include: Reiki, qi-gong, therapeutic touch, healing touch, quantum touch, energetic unwinding, Emotrance, cranio sacral therapy, and others. Each of these modalities has its unique ways of working, to help balance the body’s energetic field. They may have some similarities, but each may be experienced differently. Reiki is one form of chakra based energy work that has become popular lately. Reiki is a way of working with energy that involves no specific intent. (In Reiki, the practitioner channels universal energy through the hands into the client.) The energy is non-directed. In contrast, energetic unwinding, another way of working with chi energy, is a more directed approach. It is an excellent way to relieve blockages from places like the back, and the healer must follow the body's natural energetic movement with a lot of gentle focus. Qi gong involves gentle physical movement and mindful breath work, while crystal healing involves the use of specific stones with the chakras. The practitioner does not expend any energy themselves. Some forms of yoga incorporate chakra consciousness into pose movements, which can be beneficial. Meditations that include chakra awareness can be very helpful, and are a good way to work with chakras for healing.

Chakra based systems are often very helpful when people are unable to express what they are feeling in their body or their heart. Since the body never lies, by having a silent conversation and engagement with the client’s chakras, shifting can happen without the client needing to consciously revisit a trauma. After a session, people often report feeling clearer, more comfortable in their bodies, and better able to deal with life’s challenges. “Brain fog” often lifts, pain is reduced, and concentration improves.

Chi-based healing is often profoundly relaxing and calming for the body. Many of my clients fall asleep during this process. Sometimes they feel warmth, other times tingling, and some report having vivid dreams on the table. Chi-based healing is very helpful for people healing from injuries and/or recovering from surgeries.

Meridian Based Chi Healing Methods
Meridian-based approaches focus on energy meridians of the body, rather than chakras. Meridian methods focus on balancing the energy meridians of the body so that healing expedited. (One can think of energy meridians as rivers of energy running in the body. An illness in the body might be seen as a rock in the river that needs to be removed.) Since many of these methods are based on the ancient science of acupuncture, they tend to be a bit more technical than chakra-based methods. The directional flow of meridian energy becomes an important consideration.

Examples of meridian-based methods include EFT, Touch For Health kinesiology and, of course, acupuncture. All are helpful for helping the body reset its natural patterns. Sometimes it is as if one meridian gets overtaxed while other meridians are weak or stagnant. For example, stress can cause causes people to have a hyper active Liver or Triple Warmer meridians (fight or flight response), and a correspondingly stagnant Kidney meridian. As a result, people experience adrenal fatigue and feeling of being exhausted and "wired" at the same time. It’s as if the body has trouble resetting itself back to its optimal state, and is in a feedback loop. By doing some balancing work, the body is put back in its natural state, and fatigue is diminished.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is one of my favorite tools in this group of methods because it often goes the extra step to address the emotional distress of why issues occurred to begin with. I have found EFT to be very helpful in supporting peoples’ true healing. (For more information, see my previous blogs EFT is a Great Option for Treating Anxietyand "EFT for Reducing Chronic Pain") Through this process, people seem to evolve and grow, in terms of better understanding themselves. It’s more than just providing temporary relief to a stress. The results of EFT tend to “stick”. Other forms of meridian-based work include acupressure, shin jin jitsu, and energy medicine, as coined by Donna Eden. Meridian work is painfree, fairly quick, and often works when chakra work has reached its limit. (And vice versa as well – the two are complementary approaches). People often report feeling a big sense of relief, and the body relaxes and reduces its stress hormone levels. I have found meridian work very helpful for people healing from OCD, trauma, and anxiety. It is also helpful for creating new belief systems so that people can move ahead in their lives to create something new.

Regardless of whether a practitioner uses a chakra-based or a meridian-based system, the goal is the same: to restore balance to the energy systems of the body. In doing so, the body is better able to heal itself. Often emotional stress and pain are greatly is reduced, and as a result, the body is able to optimize its natural healing ability. A common thing I’ve noticed is that people are often able to get better sleep after their sessions. Good sleep is so important to good health. Many of my clients come to me with chronic issues with sleep, on top of other issues. Thus, their bodies are always chronically deprived, in addition to dealing with whatever else is going on. In many cases it has become rather “normal” for them to not get a good night's rest. After some solid EFT work, along with other energy work, I notice that their sleep is often greatly improved, and along with that, theiroverall health.

Non-Chi Based Energy Healing
The other important group of energy approaches are what I call “non-chi based”. These modalities do not focus on the meridian or chakra system of the body directly. They are often less well-known, but quite powerful in affecting change. Some of them are focused on consciousness, while others are more generally vibrational in nature. Examples of non-chi based methods include shamanic work, Matrix Energetics, flower essences, angelic healing, dream work, and spiritual inquiry.

This body of work often draws upon the assistance from unseen realms, and focuses on opening up possibilities for personal transformation. This involves consciousness development on the soul level, as well as support for the physical issues that are up for healing, since the two are often related. Issues that I’ve worked on with this type of work include depression, anxiety and peoples’ sense of feeling cut off from the flow of life.

This is the realm of the angels and the Divine. Some methods, such as Matrix Energetics, are specific ways of finding, inviting and connecting new possibilities into the current reality. This type of work approaches what has been described in the quantum physics literature, as it involves the accessing of unseen states and possibilities, to help manifest a change from what is currently showing itself.

It is also why healing can often occur much faster than expected by conventional medicine. In quantum time, there is no concept of how long healing from an illness “should” take. By opening up the possibilities of what can happen through an energetic bridge, often some very pleasing results can occur. It is not always predictable, but it is possible.

For example, I recently had a client who had undergone knee replacement surgery. When she first came in, she could barely walk. Her pain level was very high, and she had to take pain killer medications just to get by. The knee was very hot and swollen. Her physicians had told her to expect a recovery time of several months. I decided to see what could be done to create a different reality for her than what was expected by allopathic medicine. Since quantum physics dictates that all time and reality is rather elastic, this means that the realm of possibilities for her was actually quite wide. In the quantum world of possibilities, there are no hard and fast rules. It is not written in down anywhere in the cosmos how long a recovery from a knee surgery “should” take. So I simply looked to find a route and possibility for healing that was much faster than what was already here. Immediately after we started working together, her recovery rate began to accelerate markedly. I mixed in some chi-based work to address the heat in the knee. Each time, at the end of our sessions, she noticed more improvement. Pain was reduced, and her sleep improved because she needed less drugs. Meanwhile, the physical therapy she was doing started to pay off handsomely, because she had less pain. She’s now doing very well.

Non-chi based methods are also very helpful at clearing what I call psychic clutter from peoples’ fields. As sensitive beings, we are all prone to picking up energetic debris from our environment that does not benefit us. The cumulative affect of this can leave one rather drained and irritable, for no particular reason. Simple shamanic techniques can clean people off so they can feel more themselves again. Because I have a music background, I particularly like the use of sound for this purpose, since sound amplifies intent. It’s fast, and for many people, it is preferable to taking drugs.

I hope this helps explain, at a very high level, the different kinds of energy work that are available. I use a combination of all the methods I’ve mentioned here. They all have value. Even in working with an illness such as cancer, there are different approaches involving energy that can be considered. And to be sure, there is some overlap between the two groups of approaches I've mentioned here. There’s no one approach that is better than all others. It’s just a matter of where each client is, in terms of which approach would work for them. There is also no way to say one way works the same guaranteed way for everyone. This is because each person is so uniquely and amazingly different. For me, it’s about finding what works best with each individual. What is the best way to optimize physical healing and/or help people find a stronger connection to feeling alive? I’ve found that a combination of all of different energetic approaches yields more satisfying results than using only one alone. Since people fascinate me and energy fascinates me also, I'm forever fascinated. And that makes my work so much fun!

What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Before you go ... Would you like a great way to feel better fast when life gets tough and you're stressed?

Adele Wang
Certified energy healer and mentor, helping smart, intuitive, perfectionist women create happiness and success in an imperfect world

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Copyright © 2010-2016. Adele Wang. All Rights Reserved


  1. Thanks for sharing Adele, it has been rather informative. :D

    By the way, although I don't really plan on getting sick, I'll remember you if and when I do. ;)

  2. Thanks Adele. Interesting article. Some food for thought.


  3. Well, I think several things.
    First, I think your blog is the "real deal" kind of content. You're a gifted writer, and I can tell you love both your work and writing about your work. It shows.

    I also think I need to make an appointment to see you. I don't know which of the different types of energy work would be best for me, but I really like that you care enough about your work to have studied different methods.

    I can help with the promotion of your blog if you'd like. I suppose this is where I'm supposed to try to make a deal or leverage my information for your skills, but I have never been good at that. I tend to just give it away because I really do think that's how I'll get more back, so if you'd be open to it, I have a few suggestions to share with you that will make your blog more accessible through the Search Engines. Yours is better than any of my blogs, but I'm read more because I practice prudent SEO practices. But your blog's content is substantially good. It's one of the best of its kind, and I feel qualified to judge.

    Anyway, I'll be in touch about setting up an appointment. I've never been good at asking for help, but I'm honestly in need of it right now. I believe maybe together we can come up with a path that's a good solution for me.

    Robert Hughey

  4. Hi Robert, thanks for your kind note! So glad you find this blog of interest. You know, I just sort of started writing this with no end goal in mind, didn't know if it would be of interest to people. I had no idea if anyone would read it at all. And yes, I absolutely do love writing. I have so many blog posts in my head that I just haven't had time to put down out here that it almost hurts to carry it all in my head! Client case studies, research, interviews with more of the greats out there, you name it! I have interviews with some pretty prominent folks that have sat on my digital recorder for over a year that I just haven't had time to transcribe! Maybe one day there will be an app that can connect my brain to a blog autowriter and it will all go so much faster. Meanwhile, feel free to contact me on your questions...thanks! Adele

  5. Thank you so much Adele for this blog! I LOVE LOVE energy work and would love to learn more about actually doing it. I have my Reiki attunements and I started using Reiki on some of my clients (I am a Mind Body Dietician). I just got invited to a quantum touch class - but felt a little heavy about it and was looking for some info to determine if it was right for me - and here is your blog! :0) After reading through the different types I felt the lighter more spiritual techniques may be more appropriate for me. Do you have any recommendations for classes or teachers?

    Thanks again <3

  6. Hi Lynsey,

    Thanks for your note! Glad to hear you are enjoying discovering what calls out to you.

    You know, it's a funny thing about classes and teachers, but the right ones really do show up at the right time when people are ready. Information is becoming so readily available, it's more a function of what in particular you want to learn. It's not really about the information or the data or the technique. It's about how you grow inside, your own awareness and sense of who you are. Rock with THAT and watch the world respond! :)

    Meanwhile, maybe you just put out the "ask" into the field and see what shows up. Whatever catches your interest in that regard may be useful. Classes and learning techniques are fine but the real power comes from your own personal journey.

    Oh, and if you work with a teacher, be sure it's someone you feel good with.

    I'll be offering classes online at some point this year, so if that interests you, just go to sign up for my newsletter...

    Hope this helps! Go for it!


  7. Adele,
    Thank you so much for synthesizing this information in such an easy to understand format. I have been looking for an overview and explanation to weave together the various forms of energy healing that I am already familiar with, and the many more I am not. Much appreciation.

  8. So glad this made sense to you, Ricky! It's like trying to find words for something that doesn't have words. We do the best we can anyway, and hope for the best!

    Kind Regards,


  9. Can I have all chakras balanced but a "weak meridian(s)" ?


  10. Hi Guy,

    Well, here's my perspective -- they are two separate systems and there isn't a one-to-one match. My sense is that chakras are a bit more about a person's consciousness, while meridians are a bit more about systems that are in or out of balance. Not sure that makes sense. For example, Triple Warmer and Spleen need to balanced in the meridian system, but relaxation and balance is more than one chakra. There is some relationship but not direct corelation. Hope this makes sense.

  11. This is a great post for those of us interested in exploring different modalities as well as those interested in receiving energetic healing.

    Thank you!

  12. Bonjour Adele,
    I'm also an energy healer and I appreciate your broad understanding and knowledge on the subject. Well done!

    Do you also do a "resetting" of the energy field, what some people call " balancing" I think in USA?

    And polarity from Doctor Stone?

    I'm in GA right now, let me know if we can go for coffee, for an energy chit chat.

    Cat from Montreal, Canada

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  14. Hi Babacool and Annonymous,

    Thank you for your kind comments. I write stuff and have no idea if it makes sense to others, so it is nice to know that people find it useful and helpful! I hid this content for the longest time because I didn't know if people would find it interesting.

    I need to publish an update, as I've learned more as I continue to work. I have so much content living in my head, but I have not had time to write it all down!

    Kind regards,


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  16. I found your post highly informative and useful. I have been recently "initiated" for bionergy healing but I was confused because although I had been attending energy sessions offered by a woman here -who as far as now i understand was working with meridians- i was initiated by another guy -after a series of remarkable coincidences- who heals people with chakra based method. What i was wondering is that can i still get initiated for meridian based healing method? Or do i need separate initiation for it? Or do i just need to learn the steps/procedure and off i go? Thank you so much!

  17. Thank you for writing this. This is the most helpful article I have found on the whole Internet

  18. Glad you found it helpful!

    Onuncukoyyolcusu, there are so many ways of working with energy. On the whole thing of initiation, I think it depends what your goal is. If it's to learn and for your own experience and confidence, that is great. In general, I think developing awareness of seeing, sensing and feeling the energy is more important than a specific initiation.

    Hope that helps!