You may not think about it every day, but your energy is a part of your essence that can make a positive difference in your mental health and emotional well-being. But what exactly is “energy”? It’s a form of human intelligence that we can listen to and have a relationship with, says Hanson Tse, an energy healer whose practice blends Reiki, acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, and other practices to form his own unique fusion of healing. “Just like all systems of the body, which all have their own energetic components, our energy is self-organized, adaptive, and communicative,” Tse says. There are many types of energy work geared toward treating the muscles, joints, mind, or full body — wherever you have ailments, an energy practitioner can work on them. Healing our chakras, or the energy centers in our body, has become a more and more important aspect of self-care in these stressful times. We chatted with energy healers to find out how you can use these wellness practices to work toward balancing your body, mind, and soul.

Reiki

A woman undergoes a Reiki treatment

Though Reiki is not new — it was developed about a century ago by a Japanese man named Mikao Usui) — it has picked up steam alongside other energy work with its focus on restoring energy to the seven chakras. Unlike traditional massage, Reiki doesn’t always involve actual touch with the client, but rather hovering over the different chakras in the body to find where it could use the most positive energy. “I’ve essentially been trained to recognize and remedy energetic imbalances in one’s bio-energy field, and the way to ‘sense’ these imbalances, in Reiki, is with the palms, and then I’ll send Reiki where it needs to go,” says Alexis Alvarez, an intuitive energy worker at Modrn Sanctuary, an alternative wellness hotspot in New York City, and owner of Alektrik Crystals Energy Wellness.

Many energy healers who practice Reiki don’t limit their treatments to Reiki alone. Alvarez incorporates crystals as well as color therapy, where she selects a color frequency for the client to focus on according to what they might want to treat or improve. She places stones and crystals on various chakras of the body and hovers her hands over those areas to clear any blockages or negative energy that could be bothering the client. “Energy work can technically assist all areas of the body, since energetic imbalances can end up manifesting as physical ailments or emotional issues,” says Alvarez, who believes energy work should be a regular part of your health routine and could make a major difference in your overall wellness.

Breathwork

Something we don’t think about for most of the day is breathing, but with mindfulness being something we do on the reg (or should), the way we breathe is a key piece. Breathwork is something that’s now being isolated into classes and treatments on its own, like at The Den or Unplug, both meditation studios in Los Angeles. You can take a private lesson if you want your personal stresses or anxieties to be at the forefront or if you are intimidated by a group setting, which can often end in a cathartic way (the instructor encourages students to release tension through shouts, sighs, tears, or even primal screams in many breathwork classes). Based on the intention of the particular student or the class, an instructor leads them through a series of meditative breathing exercises, and they may alternate between deep/shallow and loud/ soft breathing throughout the session. The goal is similar to Reiki: to clear any blockages in the body’s energy and to bring about a positive, calm state of harmony within the body.

Breathwork in its simplest form, of course, can reduce typical stress, but it can have profound effects on people struggling with anxiety and panic disorders, says Connie Omari, a licensed counselor in Raleigh, North Carolina, and owner of Tech Talk Therapy, an online counseling platform. “Engaging in breathwork is a great way to reduce anxiety, as it helps the person to gain control. By simply breathing in for four counts and breathing out for four counts, one’s mind becomes distracted from their worry, forcing it to be driven away from the precipitating and worrying event,” Omari explains. “This reinforces that the individual is in control of something (even if it’s just their breath), and therefore they become more empowered to control their thoughts.”

Crystals

A bowl of crystals sits on a table

On their own, crystals have been blowing up for calming and soothing energy, but now they also are being incorporated into more and more spa treatments. One trendy crystal-inspired wellness treatment is the healing crystal harvest scrub at The Spa at Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, Massachusetts. It begins with an exfoliating body scrub to recharge your skin for the autumn season, continues with a desert jojoba oil massage, and ends with a soothing guided meditation that incorporates crystals. Chatham Bars Inn’s spa director Majka Kendall recommends the treatment for anyone with muscle tension, anxiety and stress, or difficulty sleeping, specifically because of the meditative crystal aspect at the end. The mystical element of the treatment is the use of selenite crystals — named after the Greek moon goddess Selene, the stones are placed on the hara (the energy center of the body, near your belly button), as well as the heart chakra in the middle of your chest, and the practitioner leads you through a chakra-balancing exercise to eliminate stress and create balance in your life. Because the treatment using the moon-goddess-inspired stone is centered around the harvest moon, “it’s a constant reminder to release, reset, and start again, like the harvest,” says practitioner Olivia Bazzano, the spa trainer and a massage therapist who gives the treatment. The best part? The spa has partnered with Jessica Gomes, designer of local Cape Cod jewelry line The Beaded Wire, to create custom moonstone crystal jewelry that’s available for purchase at the spa after the treatment, so you have a piece to take with you in order to reconnect with the balancing treatment wherever you go.

With calming treatments centered around a guided approach to communicating with yourself, crystals can have a real impact on your mental health. “Crystal energy work is a great tool to use, not as a replacement for antidepressants or antianxiety medications, but as an assistant to finding that piece of happiness,” says Bazzano. “Being massage therapists, we obviously can’t prescribe anything, but we can try to influence that natural well-being with that connection to the earth through crystals.” Kendall hopes to keep incorporating crystals and exploring other forms of alternative medicine to add to the spa menu at Chatham Bars Inn, especially in times where people seem more stressed than ever.

Craniosacral Therapy

One energy practice you may not have heard of is craniosacral therapy. Its main goals are healing ailments by focusing on the bones and muscles in the skull, or cranium, down to the to the sacrum, or tailbone, explains Omar Walrond, a craniosacral and energetic body healer at Modrn Sanctuary in New York City and owner of Metassage. “It’s a bridge between physical, hands-on healing and energy work,” Walrond tells us. Like breathwork, craniosacral work relies on a release of tension — mostly physical — to make an impact on the client. A practitioner uses a series of gentle holds and pressure on certain areas (for example, the base of the skull). During a session, Walrond says, one main technique is holding the client’s head in his hands until the neck muscles trigger the nervous system to fully relax, giving the client’s muscles a sense of relief.

Practitioners believe this type of work can relieve the body of various aches and pains through the neck and back as well as imbalances in the nervous system, all of which play a part in balancing your energy. “Craniosacral work and energy work complement each other, because you must be able to sense and feel subtle energies and shifts in the body to properly adjust the flow of either the craniosacral rhythm or someone’s energetic, emotional, and mental fields,” asserts Walrond. The body and its nerves, bones, and muscles are more interconnected than we might imagine, and healing and balancing our energy can boost our overall well-being.

Tweet us about the energy work you’re interested in exploring @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)