Energy: New Agers versus Geeks

Sometime in the early 2010s, I formulated a question. It was a question I had been asking my whole life, but never this concisely:

What is the relationship between consciousness and the physical universe?

What prompted the question was that during my first year of college, I had what I could only describe as an “out-of-body” experience. While in the state that felt like out of body, I had gone underneath the bottom of a shelf and perceived a cresent-shaped block.

Soon after that, I put the experience out of my mind. I didn’t remember it until I someone moved the piece of furniture, and I saw the crescent-shaped block underneath. The memory rushed back, because I had seen the block before, even though I had never reached under the shelf. I thought, There’s no way I could have known this, except for that experience.

* * * * * *

Fast forward to 2019. For the last five years, I have been studying energy. For twenty years, really, but for the last five in earnest. First in a class where we learned about personality patterns, meditations, rituals, healing through physical contact (“reaching,”a parallel process to what I already had been doing in my practice) and a whole host of other things around a spiritual and healing approach to being human. Some of this was interesting, much was incredibly valuable, especially delving deep into the five personality patterns.

However, I was never clear exactly what was meant by “energy,” and we never received any tests, evaluations, or feedback about our skill level or development. This teacher had students who had been with her fourteen years, now presumably closer to 20. I pressed my teacher for the road map. “There is no map,” she said. Some of our most powerful work came from simply being with her, and talking through how we were metabolizing the material.

On June 10, 2016, I met Mike Sententia. I had been having a rough day. I had received a letter from someone I thought was becoming a friend ripping me several new orifices, from my perspective, out of the blue. In addition to reeling from that, it was the six-month anniversary of a horrific separation from my son that at that point had not reconciled. Still, I managed to connect quite deliciously with this tall, genteel, and well-groomed young man. His dark curly hair cascaded down his face, surrounding striking Mediterranean features (Greek, Jewish, and French Canadian, I would later find out), and his kindness and sense of humor had me relaxed and chuckling from the get-go.

But what fascinated me about him, even before I met him, was his life’s work. I had read his blog, at the time called “A Scientist Explores Magick,” now transferred to

In addition falling deeply into Mike, I also got to enter his world of energy. He had spent almost a quarter-century of his 35 years on the planet exploring, experimenting with, and meticulously documenting his work with energy. I was fascinated.

And often annoyed, occasionally exasperated. I struggle to map what I had spent nearly three years studying with others onto his claims and observations. According to his definitions, very little of what I studied was actually energy. To use words from his writings:

“When I say “energy,” I mean biofield energy, also called chi or prana, a thing emitted by cells that exists out in the world whether a person is aware of it or not. But most classes teach energy as a combination of attention, emotional intuition, and biofield energy, using all those meanings interchangeably, without even mentioning that they’re different phenomena. It’s all just “energy.”

“Exercises where you stare into your partner’s eyes to “feel their energy”? That’s emotional intuition. (I’ve now spent a year exploring how to feel a partner’s biofield energy without seeing their eyes and face, and it’s a thoroughly different, much more difficult exercise.)

“Meditations where you visualize distractions, then send them away? That’s attention. (For the past year, I’ve used biofield energy to help friends focus. Again, it’s a thoroughly different, much more difficult technique.)

I myself had experienced tantric circles where I was asked to rub my hands briskly together and then hold them barely apart.

“You feel that tingling?” the teacher asked. “That’s chi!”

No it’s not, I thought. That’s blood rushing to the surface of our skin. I didn’t say anything, it wasn’t my class.

But I still thought what I had studied for nearly three years held water. However, according to Mike, all the meditations, exercises, and studies with personality patterns had gotten taught together with what might actually correspond to biofield energy. Mike was too polite to tell me flat out I was wrong. But whenever I tried to reconcile what I had learned with what he put forth, he pushed back. Only energy is energy — everything else is psychology, expectation, or attention — including much of what I had studied.

We discussed. We argued. I reasoned. We argued some more — politely, mostly. Often the tension was productive. For example, I insisted that people had edges to our energy field. We had worked with them. We decided to do an experiment.

With earplugs and blindfolds, we took turns approaching one another to see if we could tell when one of us were approaching the edge of the other’s field. It didn’t work. We repeated it — it still didn’t work. We even did that experiment with another of my former teacher’s students. When even that didn’t work, they offered up, “Well, maybe chi travels through the eyes.”

When I recovered from my disillusionment and bruised ego, I joined Mike in some of his energy games that he had developed to get better at discerning actual energy. My scores at first were no better than chance. Now, more than two years later, it’s not unusual for me to get 80 or 100% accuracy. Like anything else, practice improves skill.

Now I was on fire with excitement to share my new discoveries with my energy class community.

Almost no one wanted any part of it.

I invited Mike into the facebook group I had set up for my teacher’s students and students of her students, of which Mike was one, since he had studied my work. Someone posted a question about managing their energy. He asked what exactly they meant by energy. They didn’t answer. Soon after that, people asked what Mike was doing in the group. They unanimously expressed that they wanted the group to remain devoted only to what we had learned through our original teacher’s lineage, and not to go beyond that. They asked him to leave.

To say I was crushed would be an exaggeration. But I was sad. And lonely — I wanted companionship in exploring a larger world of energy. Neither did my teachers in that tradition express any interest in meeting Mike, when I suggested it.

So I gave up on finding companionship for my journey in that community went looking for other Energy Geeks — people who would be as excited as I was about what for me felt like lifting up the corner of the blanket covering the secrets of the universe, and peering underneath. Mike has been doing a good job of attracting such people — there’s a small cadre of us now in his year-long class.

But I still have conversations like these much of the time:

Me: I’m super excited about studying energy in Mike’s year-long class!
Friend: Yeah, it’s fascinating. But we can’t ever really know just how energy works.
Me: Actually, I’m learning quite a bit of detail.
Friend: Well, everyone has their own approaches.

Or something like this:

Me: I’m learning so much about energy in my studies.
Friend: Well, everything is energy, right?

At this point, I’m thinking…I’m tired. It would take a lot to explain that no, not everything is energy. There’s matter, that behaves one way, and energy that behaves another way. They interact in very specific ways. Living cells apparently give off what we now call biofield energy, and we can work with this energy to make palpable, lasting changes in the body.

That’s a very different view from “Everything is energy,” and it’s the one I’m experiencing now.

As it is right now, Mike has a view of the structures of the energy universe and how they work far beyond anything I have ever encountered. He can also look into the mechanisms of other systems used by living healers, and incorporate those insights into his systems. (I will write about that later, I continue to marvel at this, even as I write.)

And yet…all the while he has been amassing this body of knowledge, until recently, he has shared it with almost no one. This is because scientifically-minded folks typically see him as too “woo” for their liking, and “woo”-minded folks typically see him as too “science-y” for theirs.

Neither camp sees the truth.

The world needs the truth.

Right now people are suffering from and dying of preventable disease. We have evidence that advances in the approach to biofield energy Mike practices have impacted these diseases: Cancer. Autoimmune disease (my own psoriasis of four decades faded to nothing with Mike’s treatment). Arthritis.

Mike said earlier tonight,

“The price of helping these people is abandoning false beliefs.”

Mike’s practice now works with joint pain exclusively, and offers a money-back guarantee. He’s the only healer we know of who does this. This is because he’s worked to improve his joint pain techniques to the point where he can afford to do this.

As he grows Healing Lab, and hires others to do this kind of work with clients, Mike and others will be researching new techniques for improving and diversifying the application of energy healing to human disease. His vision for healing lab includes that the energy healers who work there will be able to come to work and do energy healing, without having to worry about explaining it to others or doing any marketing — much as massage therapists now have the option of working at a spa instead of solo.

The foundation of the skills needed to do this kind of energy healing get honed in Energy Dojo classes, where we play games to get better at energy. The basic game (which I played earlier today) is that one of us closes our eyes, or wears a blindfold. The other send energy to one of their hands. The receiver doesn’t know which hand, and tries to discern based on the feeling of energy alone.

Many times people come to these beginner classes believing that they are good at energy, as they define energy. In New Age communities, energy definitions include attention, emotional sensitivity, and psychological factors, all of which are perfectly valid filters to apply to the world — but they aren’t biofield energy. When these folks come to class, play the games and fail, they get disillusioned. Many don’t come back. We haven’t found a way to prepare people for finding out that what they believe they are good at may well not be energy.

What I want to do is invite those who are truly curious not to give up. Remember that question I began to formulate in college, about the relationship between consciousness and the physical universe? Now I’m seeing answers.

With Mike’s help, I have begun to perceive what he perceives: the underlying energy structures and functions in our bodies, in all living things, and in the universe. We can learn to harness the capacities of these structures to understand the present and future, perceive nonlocal phenomena (stuff going on other places), and create healing for human illness not available to us now.

And again, it all starts with learning, testing, and improving the basic skill of sending and receiving energy — not attention, not blood rushing to the surface of the skin, not expectation — real energy — which Mike teaches every month.

And by the way, Mike has convinced me that the experience I described at the beginning, the one that felt like an out-of-body experience was more likely a psychic intuition.

If you’re in the Bay Area, and would like to come play with us, check out the Healing Lab schedule here.

Now accepting applications for the 22nd Century Leaders program.