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Positive Energy: The 8th Prescription


Judith Orloff, M.D.

[Excerpted from Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength and Love, (April, 2004, Harmony Books)]

I learned to honor my energy needs the hard way.
As a psychiatrist who specializes in intuition, I knew how important it was to listen my body.
Yet still I’d vacillate between intense weeks of speaking tours to bouts of utter exhaustion at home.
I couldn’t turn down "irresistible" opportunities.
Here was my dilemma--I trusted my intuition, and was committed to living by it.
But I had a blind spot: as successful as I was at helping others at trusting intuition and leading high energy lives, I was ignoring my own energy crises.
Finally, my fatigue was so profound I had to change.

It's vital that we cherish our precious energy so we don't do violence to our capacity for passion.
I now believe that the most profound transformations can only take place on an energetic level.
I’ve met many patients who’ve spent much time and money on talk therapy, hoping that intellectual insights will bring emotional freedom, but they’re disappointed.
As much as I love the linear mind, my approach, which I call Energy Psychiatry, goes further to also facilitate a conscious rebuilding of subtle energies, the most basic life force in each of us.

Do You Get Drained By Other People’s Energy?

Our bodies are made of flesh and blood, but they’re also composed of energy fields--though, sadly, I wasn’t taught this in medical school.
Each day we encounter a wide range of energies, both positive and negative. Positive energy includes compassion, courage, forgiveness, and faith.
Negative energy includes fear, anger, hopelessness, and shame.
We need to be experts at dealing with energy so we don’t get demolished by draining situations or people who’re energy vampires.

Like me, you may be an intuitive empath, someone who’s so sensitive to energy you pick it up but you’re also drained by it.
This goes way beyond feeling sympathy for a distraught friend--we actually take on their pain, either emotionally or physically.
To cope, we take refuge in solitude.
We empaths are so attuned to others that we can feel what’s going on inside of them.
This can put us on energy overload and aggravate everything from chronic fatigue to overeating.

Growing up, my girlfriends couldn't wait to hit the malls, but I dreaded them.
I always felt overwhelmed, exhausted around crowds, though I was clueless why.
"What's the matter?" friends would say, shooting me the weirdest looks. All I knew was that crowded places and I just didn't mix.
I'd go there feeling fine, but leave nervous, depressed, or with some new ache or pain.
Unsuspectingly, I was a gigantic sponge, absorbing the energy of people around me.

Thank goodness, as my intuition matured, I realized I had intuitive empathy.
Once I learned to protect my energy, empathy has become a gift enhancing my compassion.

Here’s how empathy works: the more people per square foot, the more our energy fields intersect--thus the tendency to become overloaded in high-density areas.
This aspect of intuition is the most neglected.

Empaths, unintentionally, can make even a good doctor's life hell.
They manifest so many "unexplained" symptoms that frustrated physicians write them off as hypochondriacs.
Empaths are notoriously misdiagnosed.
Patients have come to me with obesity who’ve failed diets because they needed strategies other than eating to protect themselves from negative energy.
Others were labeled "agoraphobic" or with "panic disorder," having received only minor relief from traditional treatments.
Some were nearly house-bound.
They'd all say, "I dislike crowded places where there’s no quick escape. Forget department stores, busy streets, elevators, tunnels.
I just avoid them." Sounded very familiar.
So I decided to take a history of how these people processed subtle energy in the world, something all health professionals must be trained to assess.
Voila! I found many were undiagnosed empaths.
For me, this changed everything.
My job as a physician then became teaching my patients to center themselves and protect their energy.

How do you know if you’re an empath? What are the signs?

Quiz: Are You an Intuitive Empath?
Ask yourself:
Have you ever sat next to someone at a dinner who seems pleasant,
but suddenly you're nauseous, have a headache, or feel drained?
Are you uncomfortable in crowds, even go out of your way to avoid them?
Do you get easily over-stimulated by people or prefer being alone?
When someone is in pain, do you start feeling it too ?
Do I overeat around people I’m uncomfortable with?
If you've answered "yes" to one or more questions, it's likely you have experienced intuitive empathy.
Responding "yes" to every question indicates empathy is draining your energy.

Tips for Keeping Your Positive Energy High

In crowds or stressful situations, take a few deep breaths to exhale negative energy from your body
Visualize a protective shield of light around you, letting positive energy in, but keeping negative energy out
Meditate daily to center yourself--visualize roots going through you and planting firmly in the ground
Take daily baths or showers to wash off negative vibes.
Burn sage in a room to purify left over negative vibes
Eliminate energy vampires (people who sap you)
I hope I’ve inspired you to be more sensitive to your energy needs. Understanding how you react energetically in the world is particularly important if you’re chronically tired and want to build vitality.
Knowledge is power.
Meeting your energy needs can balance mind, body, and spirit to create a vibrant life.

Judith Orloff, MD is a board-certified psychiatrist, a practicing intuitive, and author of the new book Positive Energy.

She’s also written the bestsellers Guide to Intuitive Healing and Second Sight.
For more information visit


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