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Obtaining 'Positive Energy'

If you find yourself always fighting off exhaustion and constantly in a rush, author Judith Orloff has written the perfect book for you: "Positive Energy." It offers advice for increasing vitality and happiness.

Orloff tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, "I believe there is an epidemic of exhaustion going around where so many are tired and tolerating it and don't know what to do. I wrote the book to say we don't have to feel that way."

The author says she believes we all suffer from a lack of positive energy, because we are constantly bombarded with emails, cell phones, pagers and more, which causes people to feverishly work around the clock.

"We need more positive energy," she says. "We need to turn the negative thoughts in our heads, when the fear comes up, when the lack of security comes up, replace those with positive thoughts and positive energy."

She advises people to:

Live in the now
"The reason we get so exhausted is, our minds are way ahead of ourselves. Tune into the now," she says. "Most people walk around in their head all the time but it's about sensing things in your body, looking out at the beautiful flowers, looking up in the sky. Not rushing around so much that you forget to look at life."

Observe masters of the moment
She explains, "Masters of the moment are people like Michelangelo or Yo-Yo Ma - people totally present in their bodies, with their music, with their passion. You want to emulate these people or watch babies and children. They're in the moment. They've got this precious energy."

Follow your breath
"It means don't hold your breath," she says. "Stop for a moment and breathe in and breathe out the tension. Breathe in clarity and light and gain to feel that centering. Throughout the day, you can do that many, many times."

Check your pulse
She says, "You put your hand on your pulse. That's your life force. That's your pulse. As a physician, I learn to take the pulse all the time to see if someone is dead or alive. We can do that, too, to be in the moment, take our pulse, take a breath, and come back to the body. That replenishes our positive energy."

Adopt a mantra
She explains a mantra is "a protective word, a sacred word. It could be anything like peace, Shalom, let it be."

The two enemies of living in the now, she says are workaholism and energy vampires – "people who suck our energy dry to be around them. Their negative energy sucks us dry."

The book is divided into 10 chapters. Each chapter represents a prescription to get your body and mind on a healthy track.

The 10 prescriptions are:

  • Awaken Your Intuition And Rejuvenate Yourself
  • Find A Nurturing Spiritual Path
  • Design An Energy-Aware Approach To Diet, Fitness, And Health
  • Generate Positive Emotional Energy To Counter Negativity
  • Develop A Heart-Centered Sexuality
  • Open Yourself To The Flow Of Inspiration And Creativity
  • Celebrate The Sacredness Of Laughter, Pampering, And The Replenishment Of Retreat
  • Attract Positive People And Situations
  • Protect Yourself From Energy Vampires
  • Create Abundance
Read an excerpt from "Positive Energy":

The First Prescription:
Awaken Intuition And Rejuvenate Yourself

Let me tell you a secret that will change your life.
It's about energy, creativity, the rhythms of existence—how their compelling interconnection gives birth to an inner voice so sophisticated it'll teach you to harness the positive and dispel negativity. Intuition brings magic to traditional wellness approaches, but also opens you to the intriguing realm of energy fields—vibes that radiate from people, places, plants, the night sky. Think of the contagious electric buzz of Tokyo or Rome; the mellow, cool groove of Coltrane's sax; or the orgasmic surge of applause at Yankee Stadium when the home team wins. Each day you'll encounter a wonderfully diverse but often unacknowledged range of energies. In this prescription you'll see how intuition registers them and sharpens your sensitivity to your life force's fire, showing ways to metabolize and protect it. By awakening your intuition, you can access your full energy. This is the true secret of secrets: I won't be satisfied with anything less and hope you won't either.

As a specialist in Energy Psychiatry, and personally, I worship my high-octane intuitions: I owe the blessing of becoming a physician to one. However, at twenty, when an unwavering inner voice told me I was going to medical school, it was the last thing I thought I wanted. Yes, I was the only child of two physician parents with twenty-five physicians in my family, from cancer researchers to gynecologists, a lineage I seemed ordained to join. But I'd never liked science, would get bored around my parents' doctor friends. At the time I was a hippie living in an old converted brick Laundromat with my muralist boyfriend in Venice Beach. I worked in the May Company's towel department. Still, as my intuition sank in, it gave me tremendous energy. So, dubiously, I enrolled in one course in a junior college just to see. One course became two, became . . . fourteen years of medical training—a trek that would've pushed Indiana Jones to the edge. But my intuition had staying power, provided all the oomph needed to propel me to my calling.

Similarly blessed, my patient Laura literally owes her life to an intuition about energy. A math teacher with moxie, at forty-five she began experiencing a terrible pounding in her ear, diagnosed by a top neurologist as a routine recurring migraine. Despite his reassurance, she kept feeling "an energy like a train roaring through my body screaming something was wrong." As I heard the dire immediacy of this intuitive warning, I convulsed with chills. I was very afraid for Laura; she had to act. At my urging, Laura sought a second opinion.

I'm all for protesting when something doesn't feel right. It's foolish, even reckless to ignore such energy signals. An angiogram was ordered; dangerous blockages in her cerebral arteries were found. This new doctor told her: "The good news is you didn't have a stroke or die. The bad news is you have fibromuscular dysplasia. You'll need surgery to keep your arteries from collapsing." Arteries collapsing? Of course, Laura was terrified, but also relieved to have a possible solution. Then, the medical machine kicked into high gear. Laura's emergency brain surgery both cured her symptoms and saved her life. For a year, her angiograms have been fine. Now, Laura listens to her intuition like a fiend. She and her doctor agree: doubting it would have proven lethal.

In my Energy Psychiatry practice I advocate a "take no prisoners" style of intuition. This gut-centered voice is committed to your happiness, health, and survival. With practice, you can learn to tune into it. I want you to start listening. Really listening. I guarantee: your positive energy will grow. Why? You'll be operating from a spot inside that's juicy, core-felt, authentic—not from an impulse to conform or disown your strength. You won't be seduced by what may look good but betrays your gut. Intuition is a truth detector. When you deviate even a nanofraction from your inner voice, your energy will wane, whether a subtle seepage or radical bottoming out. The more ferociously faithful you are to this truth, the more energized you'll be.

Intuition offers a direct line to your life force and also, as I experience it, to a divine intelligence. It's the language of energy. You need to speak it to thrive, though our techno-crazed society doesn't recognize this essential fact. At best it equates intuition with a woman's trait (try telling that to Native American male shamans!). At worst, it's considered a magic trick or fluff. No surprise there's an epidemic of worn-down, confused people out there.

Our energy issues are solvable, but we can't afford to remain deaf to intuition's messages. Its expertise is energy; its job is to know every nuance of what makes you tick. A master at reading vibes, intuition is constantly tallying: what gives you positive energy, what dissipates it. Your intuition evaluates who you meet, where you go, your job, your family, current events—all crucial data this program will show you how to interpret and apply.

As an Energy Psychiatrist, I train patients and workshop participants to tune into vibes, a skill you'll learn. I've watched thousands of people do it. Consider Gloria, who's driven a sixteen-wheeler for thirty years: "I can sense the bad vibes of someone's road rage and maneuver around the aggravation." Or Janet, a homicide detective: "By shielding my energy, I'm not emotionally destroyed by gruesome crimes." My friend serving in an elite naval team in Afghanistan told me, "An effective point man catfooting behind enemy lines has to use 'Spidy Sense,' like Spider-Man does. It means reading energy, attending to internal alarms beyond the five senses." Whatever your field, you'll benefit from intuiting energy too. Get ready to put the Positive Energy Program's First Prescription into action.

Get in Sync with Your Life
Think of yourself as a spy whose mission is to detect how much in tune you really are with your life—the big picture and the details. Unlike more cerebral methods, intuition offers you the edge of having X-ray vision into all energy matters. Whether revealing the hard truth about toxic relationships, your exhaustion level, or a thankless job, intuition is always trying to communicate, though you may not hear. It resides in a quiet place obscured by the chatter of everyday thoughts. I will take you there.

Prepare to raise your antennae. You're constantly having intuitions about energy, but may not realize it. Suddenly, bam! A gut feeling, goose bumps, or a flash affirm what fuels or depletes you. Intuitions can be positive. For instance, you'll feel a burst of aliveness, clarity, or tension lifting about a new project. Or negative—your skin crawls or you wilt at the prospect of a sleazy business deal. In the Positive Energy Program, you'll get in the habit of intuitively tracking your energy response. (Mine soars around full moons, puppies, and during uninterrupted days of writing alone, but shrinks at the thought of black-tie events, greasy food, and fast talkers.) As I do and teach my patients, you'll identify information that zings and feels right. By noticing your energy's fluctuations, you'll get a jump on where you're off-center—in relationships, health, and career—so you can change.

Intuition also involves picking up vibes. People and situations can give off welcoming positive energy that invigorates, or oppressive negative energy that repels. Our colloquial language reflects these intuitions. One patient affectionately calls his gangly, six-foot-five brother a "tall drink of water"; another says, "My boss shoots daggers with his eyes." Sensing vibes provides instinctual gauges of your comfort level.

Techniques for Sensing Positive and Negative Energy

In the mid-eighties when I'd just begun to expand my traditional psychiatric practice to include intuition and energy, I did plenty of experimenting. My good buddy for the first few years of this exploration was Michael Crichton, filmmaker, author, and Harvard M.D. A towering six foot nine, Michael has a wicked mix of intellect and humor with a cynical edge. For me, he was the perfect companion to investigate a dimension of health I'd never heard of in medical school: our body's subtle energy system.

My world has never been the same; this was my initiation into Energy Psychiatry. I want to share with you our discoveries, and what I've been learning since. Being able to sense and direct our life force gets positive energy going: we exude it, attract it, and can read it in others. Our subtle system is the engine that drives well-being. Acupuncture activates energy by placing tiny needles in meridian points in the body. So does exchanging good vibes with people. First, I'll teach you what energy feels like, a sublime experience that intuition conveys. You may perceive it as colors, light, or positive and negative vibes. This program makes real for you what Energy Psychiatry is based on: that our bodies and spirits are microsystems of energy, and that health is about balance, which intuition helps us achieve.

Friends can be the best coconspirators in charting the unknown. Michael and I set out to experience energy, a real adventure given our "rational" medical backgrounds. We were the blind leading the blind, but so curious. Here's what we did, an exercise you'll try later: I'd lie on my back on the floor as Michael placed his palm about two feet from my head. Slowly he'd edge closer until he described feeling "a distinct contour of warmth" inches above me—the halo depicted in sacred art. We all have halos, not just angels. Michael used the same sensing technique to outline my energy field from head to toe. Starting a few feet away, he'd move his palm nearer until he definitely felt warmth, tingling, quivering or pressure, marking an invisible energy border inches to a foot from my body. Then we'd switch places, and I'd practice with him. Michael describes this process in his autobiography, Travels: "I was terrifically excited like a kid with a new toy, a new discovery I didn't think about, I just kept doing it. I could feel this warm contour just as distinctly as you can feel hot bath water when you put your hand into it."

As part of the First Prescription, I'd like you to try sensing energy too. This is important because the energy that people exude can profoundly influence your health and mood. Once you know how to read it, you'll better determine who nurtures or saps you. Practice with a friend: be playful. See how his or her energy feels.

Make Changes Now
Experience Energy Through Body Scanning at Home

Sit beside your friend as she lies on her back on the floor or a bed. Together, take a few deep, calming breaths. Once relaxed, observe your friend's eyes, hair, clothes, then look further. Picture a capsule of light surrounding her body, what Carlos Castaneda calls "a luminous egg." This is the energy you're going to intuitively sense.

Start by cupping your hand a few feet over her head. Then slowly come closer. With the palm as your sensing device, notice a point at which you hit a subtle border of heat, coolness, pressure, a hum or vibration—the outer rim of her energy field. Raise your hand, then lower it against the rim until you're sure. It's all about feel. You also may see colors. Similarly, continue to map the subtle energy around her entire body, without touching the skin.

When you're finished, it's your friend's turn. Then compare notes.

What a hoot to realize we are more than our physical selves! Each of us radiates a palpable energy. In practical terms: Have you ever sat next to someone at a luncheon and were drawn to her immediately? It wasn't so much what she said or did, but how refreshing she felt to be around. Or how about that coworker who seemed congenial, but you always left a conversation feeling run down? We are medicine for each other, sometimes good, sometimes bad. An exchange occurs whenever you interact with someone.

Certain people give off positive energy, others negative. It's the quality of someone's being, a measure of the love with which they've led their lives. It also reflects the inner work they've done, their efforts to heal anger, hatred, or self-loathing, which poison us like toxic fumes. Energetically these linger, precluding joy from shining through. It's important to grasp, however, that once you undertake the process of healing, it changes the quality of even the negativity that remains. Don't be too hard on yourself—we're all works in progress.

Signs of Positive Energy in People

  • They exude an inviting sense of heart, compassion, and support.
  • You intuitively feel safe, relaxed, wanting to get closer.
  • They emanate a peaceful glow.
  • You feel better around them. Your energy and optimism increase.

    Signs of Negative Energy in People

  • You experience a sense of being demeaned, constricted, or attacked.
  • You intuitively feel unsafe, tense, or on guard.
  • You sense prickly, off-putting vibes. You can't wait to get away from them.
  • Your energy starts to fizzle. You may feel beleaguered or ill.

    Beginning to differentiate these energies, I was able to name something I'd always intuited: why as a child, within seconds of meeting someone, I knew whether or not I liked them. This knowing wasn't about looks or how nice a person seemed. Rather, I could sense invisible tendrils reaching out to me from a person that transmitted information about them. It would happen before we exchanged a word. The confusing part for us is that people aren't always as they appear. Sensing energy reveals a fuller picture. I don't care how intelligent or attractive someone is on paper, if he zaps your energy, he isn't for you. True chemistry is more than intellectual compatibility. Beyond surfaces, you must be intuitively at ease.

    Make Changes Now
    Experience Energy Through Body Scanning In The World

    You can practice sensing positive and negative energy everywhere. Have fun. See what you find. The secret is to stand within two feet of someone—whether a coworker or shopper in the mall—and notice how he or she feels. Ask yourself: Am I attracted? Repelled? Unsettled or at ease? Honestly assess: Do I feel more robust or worn out?
    Establish a baseline for each person. You'll quickly know who nurtures you. If a loved one is in an arduous phase, try to cut him some slack. But also pinpoint those who consistently drag you down. Then, with a more realistic understanding, you can take better care of yourself.

    I'm a big fan of being proactive in generating positive energy. The First Prescription's formula for success: Do whatever makes your inner light brighter. In other words, try to treat yourself and everyone else with love. It's a constant process of tuning in: finding people who support your spirit, trusting your gut-centered decisions to guide you. Then you won't end up in a relationship that looks right but feels wrong. Or miss the chance to meet a loving man or woman because he or she doesn't fit some preconception. When you're with trying people, aim for the high road; find common ground rather than inflame negativity (more to come in Chapter 4). The care with which you approach life is intuitively evident in your energy field. We can feel each other's love: that's the great attraction. Spread openheartedness around. Stay true to your intuition. Your positive energy will blossom.

    Intuitive Empathy: How to Stay Open and not Absorb Negativity

    In Energy Psychiatry, my patients use intuition to understand their energetic health, and also to scrutinize their reactions to positive and negative vibes. So much happens to us that remains subliminal—the smile of a coworker; witnessing a devastating three-car pile-up while driving to work; the sight of children skating on Christmas Eve in Rockefeller Plaza—all pass through our consciousness so fast we may miss how each registers. Intuition is a master at bringing our attention to interactions, large and subtle, that modulate our energy.

    For many patients and myself, staying receptive to positive energy has been the easy part. This openness I adore lets me live with more gratitude—for intimates, but also for Rick, my wisecracking Bronx-born plumber, and Khalsa, the white-turbaned mail carrier who, rain or shine, delivers packages to my door. The energetic quality of all our connections matter. Every moment seems wildly extravagant. Sipping morning coffee or gazing at the galaxies above, appreciation of positive energy instills wonder in the days we so casually inhabit.

    For me, negative energy has taken more getting used to. An intuitive empath as a child, I was so attuned to people's feelings, positive and negative, that I unknowingly absorbed them. Normally, when you have empathy, your heart goes out to someone in distress. When you're an intuitive empath, you take on their tribulations. If a friend was upset or physically hurting, in a flash her discomfort would lodge in my body. As I've explained, crowded places intensified my empathy. Whereas shopping malls are havens for some, for me they were war zones: I was bombarded by the swarms of people, but couldn't explain why. An angst-sucking sponge, I coped by shutting down. A teenager in the sixties, I numbed myself for a few years by taking drugs. Finally a wise therapist referred me to a UCLA lab that studied intuition, where I could meet other empaths. What a relief not to feel so out of control or alone. With their support, I developed ways to handle my empathy, to see it as a potent type of intuition, an asset.

    Excerpted from Positive Energy by Judith Orloff, M.D. Copyright © 2004 by Judith Orloff, M.D.. Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

    For more information and lecture schedule:

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