Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today my guest is Dr. Ann Marie Chiasson. Ann Marie is Canadian board-certified in family practice. She has a private integrative and energy medicine practice in Tucson, Arizona, where she offers consultations, treatments, seminars, and retreats. Dr. Chiasson incorporates integrative family medicine along with hands-on healing and other techniques that change, stimulate, add, or shift the underlying energy that is associated with the disease process.

With Sounds True, Ann Marie has created several programs, including Self-Healing with Energy Medicine, which is an audio introduction to energy medicine that she created with Sounds True along with Dr. Andrew Weil. She’s also created a home study course and an online training program in Energy Healing, and a new book called Energy Healing: The Essentials for Self-Care, where she offers a complete guidebook of easy-to-use energy practices to enhance our health and vitality. Ann Marie was also a featured speaker at the 2012 Wake Up Festival, and she will also be a featured speaker at the upcoming 2013 Wake Up Festival. If you’re interested in the 2013 Wake Up Festival, you can check out SoundsTrue.com/wakeup.

In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Ann Marie and I spoke about the importance of allowing a free flow of energy into the body through what are known as assemblage points. We also talked about the role of sacred touch in energy healing, and experiences that Ann Marie has had working with patients who are suffering from dementia when she uses sacred touch. Ann Marie also lead us in a heart center meditation and talked about what it means to access the unified field of energy through all three dan tians—the lower, middle, and upper dan tian—simultaneously. Here’s my conversation with Dr. Ann Marie Chiasson.

Ann Marie, you begin your new book on Energy Healing by stating very emphatically, right at the outset of the book: “Our energy is not ours.” Can you explain what you mean by that? “Our energy is not ours.”

Ann Marie Chiasson: I think that the energy flow in the body is connected to and related to the energy field around us. I don’t think it’s separate. So we’re living in a sea of energy. We’re living on this earth, which has this large electromagnetic field. There [are] cosmic energies, which a lot of people talk about already. And I think that our bodies are part of that larger field. It’s a more concentrated energy field, but it has physical matter with it as well, because each piece of physical matter has energy.

But our energy’s not ours. The amount of energy or chi flow in the body is related to how well-connected we are to the energy field around us. Most traditions will connect up, especially spiritual traditions, and more shamanic or earth-based traditions will connect down. But we can also connect through other energy centers. So the energy in our body and the amount of flow and access we have, of vitality and vital energy in the body, is related to how connected we are to the world around us.

TS: Let’s talk about this idea of connecting up or connecting down or connecting in other ways. What do you mean by that?

AMC: So there are different energy centers in the body, or points where energy can flow in. If we were looking at the chakra tradition, we would talk about the root chakra, the second chakra, all the way up to the crown chakra.

So if we looked in the Hindu tradition, you can connect to the earth energies, or the energy flow that’s more of the natural world that’s literally beneath us, through the root chakra. Or you can connect to the energies that are higher up and there’s a different quality. As you move farther away from the earth, you can connect through the crown chakra.

In traditional Chinese medicine, they talk about the dan tians being the same, so the lower dan tian—which is connected to the earth energy below, or the energy field that is beneath our feet—provides your vital energy. And the energy field that provides more of the ideas connects up, and it’s up in the head area.

So each of these energy centers has a way of connecting to the field around it. And in a healthy body, we’re connected. When we’re born, we’re connected through all the energy centers, or through multiple energy centers. As we get older, we begin to shut down different energy centers, like we cross our legs all the time, or we end up having tight hips and we don’t have good energy flow in our legs, and then the vital energy that’s coming into the body into the lower chakras or the lower dan tian, that slows down and people end up getting tired.

If you look at the Yaqui tradition, they call them assemblage points. And I love this idea of the assemblage points because an assemblage point is where the energy from around us comes in and constellates into our sensory and physical world.

So you can even play with shifting where your focus is, from the root chakra to the heart chakra to the head chakra to the third chakra, and the whole world around you starts to look differently. So not only does it provide us with more or less energy flows or different qualities of energy, it also provides us with different realities. So our energy’s not ours; it’s how we bring it into our energy system that provides us not only with what’s feeding us energetically, but also how we’re viewing the world.

TS: Now, this is a very interesting word that you brought up: assemblage. Can you explain that a little bit to me? What is being assembled when energy enters the body?

AMC: So in the Yaqui tradition, the world around us, all of the life and all the energy of life, is like a spider’s web or a grid of intention that they call intelligence. So everything is connected through this web, and all the energies that are coming—like me talking to you right now, as well as the trees outside, as well as my dog downstairs—we’re all connected through this web of energy.

It’s a sea of energy that is structured sort of crystalline, as a web. And as it connects into my body, it comes in through this filter that they call the assemblage point and then constellates into Ann Marie: Ann Marie’s body, Ann Marie’s feelings, thoughts, and her energy.

So we’re never disconnected. We’re always connected, and it’s a question of how we’re connected to this larger field around us. The assemblage point can move around the body. The Yaquis talk about it being at the back of the heart, and they talk about how the assemblage point moves when we’re sick, and when we’re sleeping, and when other activities happen, like if we take a psychotropic substance, then the assemblage point can move.

But I also think the assemblage point can be down at the root chakra. It can be up at the head chakra. And you can start to see, when you start picking this up, you can start seeing where people are connected and how they’re connected. And that shifts how the energy comes into the body and then what we have access to.

TS: Now, could I be connected through several assemblage points at once?

AMC: Yes. And that’s what I’ve been working with recently. The more connected we are through the differenT assemblage points, I think, the more presence we actually experience. So I’ve been really playing around with the idea of connecting in multiple centers.

My teacher, Brugh Joy, used to call this carrying multiple states of consciousness at once, and you can carry up to five or six. I practice the art of trying to connect at three different places, and then what happens is I become so present in the moment, and I think it’s because I’m so connected to the energy field around me—I’ve noticed it with clients, too—that we move into presence right away because some of the interference and lack of energy flow from some of the other areas in the body goes away.

I’m not explaining this very well. So, for example, if we do an exercise where we connect at the lower dan tian, the middle dan tian, and the upper dan tian, people immediately go into a state of presence.

TS: Now, let’s talk about this a little bit more. First of all, when you talk about the dan tians, can you help me understand what they are? I mean, they’re centers of openness in the body? What is a dan tian?

AMC: They’re energy centers that spin, that the energy body is constellated around. So the energy body doesn’t just have a form, like your physical body. It’s shaped like an egg, and it radiates out from your body, and it has these sources of energy or these focal points of energy in the body that spin.

So in traditional Chinese medicine there’s the lower and the middle and the upper. There are also other parts of the energy body in traditional Chinese medicine, like the meridians, because there are flows that go around. The dan tians are the major energy sources within the physical body.

In the Hindu tradition, they talk about the seven chakras the same [way]. They call them wheels that spin, but they’re sort of like pools of energy that are within in body that are moving and spinning and continuing to circulate the energy that’s in the body, both in the energy body and the physical body. I only make the distinction because the energy body goes out beyond the physical body.

TS: OK. And you’re talking about how each one of these dan tians can be an assemblage point or a place in the energy and physical body where we can have access to this web of energy, web of life. That’s correct?

AMC: Yes. Where we do have access.

TS: Yes. OK. So we do have access. And let’s say that I want to experience presence through my lower dan tian. We’re going to do all three of these, so we’re going to go through it together. But let’s start with the lower dan tian. How do you help people do that?

AMC: So the way I help people do that is I give them energy practices to open the lower half of their body. So this is where I use the practices like Toe-Tapping or even Shaking the Bones. I love the Toe-Tapping, [and] any practice that will open the legs and hips.

There are yoga poses that do this. Pigeon is a great yoga pose. There’s a lot of kundalini yoga poses that work, too, or even sitting people down and having them rock their hips while they’re sitting on the earth will begin to open that area.

You need two things to move energy, two points of focus, and if you can add three, then you will have [even] more energy there. So I try to bring people into practices that have at least two points of focus, whether it’s breath and visualization; or movement and breath; or movement, breath, and visualization. You can even use movement, breath, visualization, and a mantra.

The more ways that you focus on the area, and the more times that you do it, the more the area becomes open and easy to connect. And then it becomes very simple, where you can just drop your awareness to the lower part of your body and you’re connected.

But in the beginning, it takes time to open the legs and the hips and to move all the energy blocks out of the way that have been there. And for a lot of people, we’re so used to being focused in our head, it just takes time. It’s like the first time you learn, for example, diaphragmatic or belly breathing. It takes a few times to learn. It’s takes 10 or 15 breaths, even, to catch a glimpse.

So what I do with people is try to drop their awareness down into their core, into their lower dan tian or their first and second charkas, by opening the legs, bringing the energy in, so getting them more energy with a tapping or even just bouncing up and down. And then [I have] them repeat that over and over and over. Then, over time, [I get] people to check in there, because there’s different information in the lower dan tian, and also in the first and second chakras, than there is in the head.

So I get people to check in there—before they make a decision, for example—and notice what is the sensation in that area of the body when you pose a question to it. It’s not a thought process, it’s not like, “Oh, yes, I’m going to get my car and go drive off to that mountain.” It’s much more like an attraction or a pole shift; an on or an off.

And so I start teaching people to pay attention to the lower half of their body and what is enlivening it versus dampening it. And [I have] them start to walk through the world paying attention to that, too, because so much of what we do sometimes is what our head wants us to do and not what our body wants us to do.

And actually, Tami, it gets really interesting because when you start doing this, you start tumbling into this whole mystery of manifestation that people talk about. Because the body is actually what’s involved in manifestation, not the head. So people can walk around thinking that they want to do one thing, but if they check in with the body, the body will move toward what’s supposed to happen next.

And so a lot of [what happens] when people start to work with paying attention to that lower dan tian [is] that assemblage point just automatically turns on, because you focused it and you’re using it. I think that they’re never really off. I just think it’s almost like how we’ve waited [for] it.

And then things start to look differently in life. And then people will find that they may start making different choices, [and] things flow toward their choice because they’re flowing to the choice that needs to be made. Does that make sense? It’s hard to talk about.

TS: It does. Now, in your book on Energy Healing, you talk about how you actually spent a period of time really focusing on the lower dan tian, focusing your energy there and following the messages, the directives, you got from the lower part of your body. And I’m curious if you can share with us what that period of time in your life was like.

AMC: Well, I was home with young children, so I had the ability to follow the flow. I didn’t have a job I had to go to every day. What would happen was I would check in; I put my hand on my lower abdomen, and I would check in with what I was going to do for the day and see whether or not there was a buzz, or more of a vibration, or more of a feeling of “yes” or “no.” And that threw what I was doing according to that.

So one time I had been given the opportunity to go to Mexico over Christmas, and I had two small children and a husband who worked really hard. And that was an extraordinary hardship to leave my children on Christmas. That’s just the kind of thing I would never think of doing. Of course not.

But I checked in to the lower dan tian, and it was like, “Yes.” So I would put my hand there and say, “Stay home for Christmas with my family, who I adore.” And there would be a dampening or a quieting of my core energy. “Go on this trip.” And it would enliven. So I then had to follow my guidance and actually go on the trip, which took a lot of faith, and it took a lot of doing.

You know, I was worried I was going to wound my family in that sense, because it wasn’t a typical practice for mommy to leave on Christmas. But I went down and it was one of the most extraordinary trips I’ve ever been on. It was, in fact, the last trip before this [spiritual] teacher died. So the body knew where I needed to be.

I would do that all day long with different activities. I would check in and find that I would be drawn to doing something very different than what my mind had decided would be the right thing for the day.

It wounded my ego a lot. There was one time when I was in a little conflict with my partner, with my husband. And I wanted to go off and do something else, and I checked in and the body just wanted to sit next to him, which surprised him. He’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “I just want to sit next to you.” And the body didn’t care that we were having an intellectual conflict at that moment. Didn’t care at all. Just wanted to sit next to him.

Or I would have other times when I would be visiting with a friend and I would checking in and the body was like, “Nuh-uh. I don’t want to be here right now.” It was fascinating. So I had to let go of what I thought I was going to do and just follow this flow of what was enlivening my lower dan tian, and allow that to be my guide.

And things started happening in a very different way. Things began to flow. I would want something and then I would get a phone call asking me or telling me that whatever it was that I was wanting was about to happen. And what I realized was it wasn’t my ego saying, “Oh, I want this.” It was the body saying, “This is just about what’s going to happen.” And then I would align with it and then it would happen.

So [it] became much easier to read what was going to happen in the future. I became much more precognitive. But at the same time, things became much easier because I was ready for each thing as it was about to happen.

TS: Now, I can imagine someone listening who says, “This sounds wonderful. I’ve had moments or short periods of time where I feel that way too, where I can just tune into my body and it knows exactly what to do. But as I’m listening and I put my hand on my lower belly and I ask a question, I hear my mind going, ‘Blah, blah, blah, da, da, da, da, da.’ And my mind is so loud that I have no idea what my body’s saying to me.” How can you help that person?

AMC: It’s an art. That’s why I did this for two years. And it just takes time, and it’s not a voice. When I hear a voice coming from the head, that’s the head. It’s a feeling of drawing toward, and it takes time.

I would suggest that you put your hands on your belly and drop into your breath, and then bring up things that you know enliven you as practice. So bring up something that you know that you adore doing physically with your whole body, and not just with your head. Something that you were always drawn toward. And practice bringing that up and noticing what you feel in your hands and your lower body when that comes up. So you know what this enlivening feeling is.

So I always start with something that somebody knows, and then take them to something that they are repulsed from or repelled away from, and watch the dampening. So you begin by practicing with things that you know and then you start checking in with things that you don’t know.

One of the best ways to do it is actually the chakra meditation. So taking some music and placing your hands on each chakra, and letting the body show you what it’s going to look like, because, of course, it will be a little different for each of us. So sitting down, doing the chakra meditation, and the body and the chakras will show you their differences, instead of having an idea of what they’re supposed to be.

It’s an art, and it takes practice. And I will often do it when people are on my table, but in groups I can show people how to do it by themselves. And one thing that people say is it’s hard to differentiate. So then I find if I have people walk from those different centers—and this is actually an exercise from acting, as well. So I have people walk, go on a walk, and only walk where they feel their lower dan tian is directing them, or walk with their lower center as their gravity center. And it will begin to start to show it to them.

I was teaching a group of people in Michigan this summer, and it was hard for the group to get it until they went out walking. And somehow engaging the movement with the lower dan tian, people started catching a glimpse between what is a “yes” from the lower part of the body and what is a “yes” from the head. And they’re different sometimes.

TS: And what do you do when you’re getting two different pieces of input like that? Don’t we want to be congruent—I mean, I want my head to also approve of the decision I’m making, yes?

AMC: Yes. And I think of it a little bit like when you’re building consensus. Consensus doesn’t mean everyone’s in complete agreement. So I always then move to the heart, because the heart is the great modulator.

So I usually go with two or three centers, but I’ll tell you a story that I wrote about in the book. When I first started really understanding the power of doing this, for me, I was about to move. I had just renovated the house I was living in, and I was about to move to another house. My husband had found another house, and he wanted to move, and I was eight months pregnant.

So we bought the other house, the new house. I would be moving when I’m nine months pregnant, and I was really attached to this beautiful renovation I had done on the house that we were living in. So I had a lot of conflict about moving, and I was getting sort of nauseated when I was thinking about it, and I wasn’t quite sure what the right way to go was. And he’s pretty set. He wanted to buy this house and make the move.

So I did what we’re talking about now. I went into a meditation and I posed the new house in each chakra, and I just let the body inform me. And so what happened was when I got to the root chakra, it was really active. It’s like [vibrating noise]. I could really feel it opening and closing and moving, and a lot of aliveness.

The second chakra was the same. The third chakra had the opposite reaction. It was almost like it was shut down and tight. Fourth chakra, the heart, was open. The fifth chakra was wide open. When I went to the sixth charka, I had the flash of already living there. And then the seventh charka was open.

So all of a sudden, I could identify that the only place that I was having difficulty was in this third chakra. Everything else [had] quite a bit of preference for the new place, and actually, I had probably already made the decision to move, or the body knew it was moving. So then once that happened, all I had to do was work with the third charka and the energy of the third chakra. I followed the rest.

If there’s a big conflict—sometimes life calls on you to do things—I go with the heart. And the heart is usually aligned with one of the other two. So I like to work from the lower dan tian and the heart.

I don’t find that my thoughts are that important, actually. A lot of them are ideas and opinions, but I find that if I work with the lower dan tian and the heart, when those two are aligned, then the head will come around. It just needs a little bit of a tweak. “But I thought it was going to be—” No, this is the way it is.

So that’s how it works for me. Now, I have a lot of clients that work with the head and the heart, and that’s how they live their lives. And that’s a choice. That’s how their lives work best.

TS: Now, it’s interesting, when I asked to get very specific about what the dan tians in the body actually are, and you talked about them as these wheels in the body, similar to the chakras, but different and placed differently in the body. And one of the points you make in your book on Energy Healing is that at first, when somebody’s learning about the energy body, it can seem quite confusing. There’s chakras, there’s dan tians, now there’s meridians, there’s an aura.

And you saw this comparison to being an MD and learning about the physical body, that there’s a circulatory system, and a nervous system, and all these different systems, [and] you can actually understand them all together. And I wonder if you can explain that analogy for our listeners to help them appreciate these different ways of looking at the energy body.

AMC: I’m going to start with just a quick story, which is I learned energy healing from the chakra tradition. So I learned how to feel the seven wheels or the seven chakras.

And as I moved into working on people, I started noticing other flows of energy within the body. And I would be so surprised. I would be like, “Hmm, there’s a line of energy that comes up here and then crosses over there, and comes up the leg and then crosses over the heart, and comes up through the eye.” I started checking with my friends, and they started telling me, “Oh, that’s a traditional Chinese medicine flow for this problem, or this problem.”

So the first thing that happened was I had learned Hindu tradition and I started noticing other flows in the body. So I started having the experience that you can have the chakras and these other flows. That’s when I started to look at the differences, and the way I see it now is how deeply I’m going into the body, where I’m pitching my attention.

So if I go very deeply into the body, I hit the bones and the bone marrow. And then you start moving out and you get, like you said, the organs and the muscles and the circulatory system. When I look at the energy body—the different traditions, I think, are just looking at the energy body in different ways.

So the deepest layer is the lower dan tian and the hara—it’s called the as well. When you come out, then that differentiates out into the seven chakra systems. And then when I come out, meaning closer to the skin, we end up with the matrix and the meridians, the acupuncture points.

That’s how I see it. And that’s how I experience it as well, which is why I tend to jump around from system to system, which can be confusing. I do think that the traditional Chinese medical system of the dan tians —as I go into the body, that’s the deepest or the central roots. So there’s one energy center, which is the lower dan tian, that feeds the rest in some ways as you come farther out.

TS: OK. So the dan tians, in the way that you experience the energy body, are the deepest, starting with the lower dan tian. Then the chakras, and then you mentioned the matrix. What do you mean by that?

AMC: So the matrix is a little bit like what I was talking about with the Yaquis. The matrix I learned in Mexico, and I also learned it from some aboriginals. It’s a web of energy. It’s like the structure within the body that energy flows through. And it’s a little deeper than the meridians, and I find that it’s almost like the scaffolding in the body. And when I’m working with somebody energetically, that’s where I find a lot of the problems to be; the tangles or the blocks. It’s the substance. So it’s like a three-dimensional grid that goes in the body. And I’ve seen different people draw it and describe it differently. I see it as like a large spider’s web that kind of goes all the way through the inner body. And then the meridians are really very similar, right under the skin. And they’re probably connected, but I couldn’t—I could make up how they’re connected, [but] I can’t really tell you exactly how they’re connected.

TS: OK. And then you said something very interesting, that it’s actually the lower dan tian that, in a sense, gives rise to the dan tian at the level of the heart and at the level of the mind, the level of the head. Could you explain that? That’s very curious to me.

AMC: So my understanding, the way that I see it, is that that’s the primary energy center for vitality. So if there’s no energy there, there’s no energy anywhere else. So that’s what I mean by “giving rise.” It’s our primary, deepest root of energy, but all three exist together. So I don’t want to be too dogmatic here. They all exist, all three exist, but that’s the one that’s most responsible for what we started talking about, which is our energy that’s not ours: the lower dan tian.

The root chakra is the connection down, and then the lower dan tian is where it’s stored. So it comes in through the root and it’s stored in the lower dan tian. And, actually, most of the vibrations that we feel and when we have vibrational experiences, they come in, usually, through the root, and then they weave up through the body and through the chakras and out.

It’s a little bit like talking about, like you said, cardiologists talking to urologists. They see the body in different ways. These are just different ways of seeing the anatomy of the body, but they all exist together.

TS: Right. So given that the lower dan tian is our primary root, you gave the example of somebody who might make decisions from the heart and the head center without giving as much credence to their lower dan tian. I guess, to be honest with you—we’re having an honest conversation here—I’d question that.

AMC: You’d question what?

TS: I’d question that just going with the heart and the head and not paying attention to the lower dan tian, and giving it [a] primary role in the direction of our life.

AMC: Right. I agree with you. And those folks you often see have difficulty with aligning with what’s happening in life. So, “I have this view, here’s what my heart thinks, I’m a good person, and I wonder why this keeps happening to me.” That’s not right in the world. You see a lot of that. And that’s just how some people navigate it.

So when I say that’s how they navigate it, that is how they navigate it, and I have respect for that. And I also think some of the folks that go head and heart, who can’t work with the lower dan tian, it’s happening anyway and they don’t know it.

So sometimes people just can’t get to the awareness of their lower dan tian and their pelvis. Especially older [people]. There’s certain older people I work with [and] it doesn’t matter how long I work with them, that’s just too contrary to the way they’ve been wired their whole life. [That] doesn’t mean that the lower dan tian’s always saying “no.” But you’ll see with people who are working just with their head and their heart and their lower dan tian saying “no” that they have a lot of difficulty having a life that flows with ease, whether or not they’re having difficulties with finances.

I see this a lot with people who are into manifestations and it’s not working. So sometimes you’ll see people who were trying to manifest this, this, and this, and it’s just not happening. When you check in with the body, you’ll see the lower dan tian’s shutting down to it, even though it’s a fabulous idea. I see it with myself. I come up with ideas all the time. “Oh, that’s a great idea!” Then I check in, “Nope. It’s not going to happen.” Or I’ll just go with it and then it won’t ever happen. I won’t be able to actually bring it all the way through.

So it’s the creativity that’s not quartered to the lower dan tian. It usually doesn’t go anywhere. The heart is often quartered to the lower dan tian without people being aware of it. So sometimes people who are—I’m repeating myself—working with the head and the heart, it’s working for them anyway because they are working with the lower dan tian, they’re just not aware of it.

But I do see a lot of people in our culture, walking around with the head and the heart. They forget about the body and then they can’t understand why things keep not turning out the way that they think they should be turning out.

TS: I think it would be helpful to make explicit what [it is] about operating from this lower center of intelligence, or lower dan tian, that allows manifestation to happen smoothly and easily and for us to be going with the flow of life, versus against it. What is it about working from that center of our being that enables that?

AMC: Well, energy is conscious. So when we’re talking about connecting to the energy fields from the different dan tians or chakras or different assemblage points, we’re actually talking about bringing consciousness into ourselves.

I don’t think that consciousness is ours either. I think that’s how connected we are to the energy fields or the consciousness around us. So the body is actually not disconnected from the world around [us]. The only part of ourselves that’s disconnected from the world around [us] is our head, or our body if we really shut it down.

So when we’re talking about manifestation—and I differ from a lot of people on this—the body is temporal. It’s the only part of ourselves—not the only part of ourselves, but it’s the easiest access into the past and the future. The body knows what’s about to happen, and it has the ability to respond to what’s about to happen, which is a lot of what I think manifestation is.

So if you’re working from an idea that has come in or has been generated through something that’s not quartered to the physical and energetic reality around us and consciousness itself, then the body can’t align with what it needs to align [with] to have that happen.

It reminds me of the Wake Up Festival, when Adyashanti said, “The most important thing is to say ‘yes’ in waking up.” It’s the same thing. The body is saying “yes” all the time to consciousness that’s going on around it. The head has a different agenda sometimes. The heart is always saying “yes” as well, as long as you can stay attentive to these things.

So for manifestation to happen, it’s really about following what is already happening, and the body is the tracker of what’s already happening. The head has a different thing that it wants to happen, for a variety of reasons. There are lots of things in the world that we don’t want to happen. There’s cruelty, and there’s difficulty, and there’s suffering. What head would say “yes” to that? What heart would say “yes” to that?

But the body knows what’s going to happen. That’s why I love to look in the animal world, because the animal world aligns with what’s happening very quickly, and lives in this instinctual place that is also heart-centered, without a lot of—I don’t think there’s as much idea or thought.

We need the thought. I’m not saying we don’t need thought and creative ideas. It’s just that you need to have the creative ideas connected to the larger field of manifestation and consciousness, and the way for me is through the body.

TS: Now, in your book on Energy Healing, you talk about how a fast track to awakening would be to actually connect to—you call it the “unified field,” but we can say this huge field of energy that we’re a part of simultaneously through all three of the dan tians. So I want to get there in our discussion, because I want to offer our listeners this fast track to awakening, if you will.

So we’ve been talking about focusing on the opening and the connection of the lower dan tian. Let’s move up to the head for a moment, then we’ll end with the heart. How do I work with my head such that the upper dan tian is aligned with the unified field of energy?

AMC: Meditation. I think that a good, clear—so again, let me go back to the basics. Two points of focus, three even better. So meditation with breath and a visualization, and I use my hands, too. So I’ll actually place my hands on my forehead and use breath and a mantra for meditation. And people have lots of different ways of meditating. So I would do it with my hands and a mantra. Other people will use, for example, mindfulness, which is a fabulous practice.

So you have to keep the mind clear, and what we’re talking about really, Tami, is activating the center. Once you activate the center, it’s connected. So it’s a question of activating it. So doing the same practice we talked about: finding out whether or not it’s on or off, although the head is very easy because we’re all used to being connected to the mind and the head and the upper energy centers.

So I have people lay down and put their hands on their forehead, and breathe, and ask the same questions. But I also think a good meditation practice will do it. I don’t think that most of us have a problem being connected from the upper dan tian. I rarely have to show anybody that. I think anybody who has a decent meditative practice has the ability to have a clear mind that’s quiet and connected. When it’s really busy, that’s not usually—it may be connected, but we don’t have access to it.

TS: OK. Well, let’s move directly into activating, then, the dan tian at the level of the heart. How do you help people do that?

AMC: I do that with a heart center meditation. Same thing. So it’s using, again, two or three points of focus. So the hands [are] on the heart. I do the heart center meditation, which has a four-attribute mantra: compassion, innate harmony, healing presence, and unconditional love.

And there are other heart meditations or ways to activate the heart. So I use the breath, the hands over the heart chakra, and then I add the mantra in. The breath and the hands over the heart will do it.

TS: Can we actually do this together, Ann Marie? Could you take us into it?

AMC: Yes!

TS: Let’s do the heart center meditation.

AMC: OK. So we start the heart center meditation by using the power of touch. So place your right hand over your heart chakra, which is right between your breasts, above the solar plexus. It’s not on the solar plexus. Put this right hand over and then the left hand over the right hand, and let your thumbs touch. And this begins to start the meditation already. This will already move us into a heart-centered state of consciousness—the fourth chakra, which is actually a collective field.

And then you can add your breath into your hands, and I love to use the art of sacred touch. So before I start the meditation, I announce to the body that we’re starting the meditation. And I have the body start the meditation by sending gratitude and radiance into the body.

So I begin to flood the heart center, the heart chakra, with gratitude, and I practice sacred touch. So I touch it as if I was touching the most amazing object I could ever touch. Or a person; the beloved or a newborn baby. Something sacred. So touching the heart chakra as if I was touching the most sacred object. And that starts the meditation in the body.

Then, using the breath, I invite in the attributes of the heart center. So I start with compassion—oceanic, limitless, boundless compassion. And using your breath, invite compassion in like you were inviting a guest or an old friend into your home, into your body house. So we invite it in like we’re calling the forces at the beginning of a ceremony. Compassion.

The next attribute is innate harmony. And it’s the calm in the midst of chaos, or the still point. It’s the eye of the needle. So with a few breaths, invite in innate harmony—inviting it in as the teacher, as the presence to guide us through the meditation, so we can embody it.

The third attribute is healing presence. It’s the desire and longing toward healing. It’s love in action. It’s the first movement in the void into manifestation. Healing presence. It’s longing for healing. With your breath, invite in healing presence. Invite it in.

And then the last attribute is unconditional love. And it’s really the mystery of awe and reverence. It’s the ability to see each thing for what it is. Take a few breaths to invite that in.

And then if we were going to continue meditating together, we would just go over the attributes with each breath. So I would take one breath to compassion, and the next breath to innate harmony, and the next breath with healing presence, and the next breath with unconditional love.

And the more we do that, the more the flow of love within the body and the more the fourth chakra will connect. It’s not our heart chakra. It’s within us, but it’s a collective field that we drop into when we start to stimulate it. Most traditions have this, actually. Almost every tradition has a word for the heart center.

TS: Beautiful. Thank you.

AMC: Can you feel it?

TS: I can, yes.

AMC: You want to keep meditating? [Laughs] I just assumed you didn’t.

TS: Well, I am curious to know more about this collective energy field of the heart, if you can speak to that.

AMC: Well, I think most traditions have a way of describing it. I know that in Buddhism, [it’s] compassion. In Christianity, [it’s] Christ consciousness. I think in the Native American traditions, a lot of the work of Creator is quartered to the heart. I think that when we drop into the heart center and that field of love, we’re immediately connected to those around us. We don’t individuate in this place; we connect in this place.

So I think there is this field at the heart that we all share, which is why the field of love is so powerful, and why people transform in it so quickly. They’re held in this collective place and collective field. And I think it’s why we see it in every culture. Every culture has a practice to stimulate this feeling of love.

The third chakra is much more differentiating. That’s the place where I can tell the difference between you and I, and it’s crucial. I have to know the difference between you and I, because I have to be able to take care of myself. But once the differentiation happens, if we’re looking at the energy body, then it moves into the collective field where we’re all connected.

So when I’m working with people with non-local consciousness, if they can work with the heart, it’s much easier to connect, for example, with a relative or someone they want to talk to who’s far away when they work at the level of the heart chakra.

And you’ll feel the whole room change when you’re meditating with people. I know you’ve had this experience. The whole room begins to crystallize into one field, and it’s almost as if we’re connecting to the heart beat, or the heart field of the room, not our own.

TS: Now, you have a very interesting teaching that I want to bring forward here. I know that one of your hobbies, if you will, is to create t-shirts. And you’ve sent me some of them over the years, and I’ve given them to my partner, and this is one that she wears a lot. It has a saying on it: “cool head, neutral heart, fire below.” And I’m wondering if you can help us understand this. I think I get the “fire below,” but I’m a little confused by the “neutral heart.” Here my heart’s feeling quite warm and kind of glowy. So can you explain what you mean [by] “fire below, neutral heart, cool head”?

AMC: Thanks. I get that question a lot. I’m wondering if I should change the shirt. The warm pelvis is what we were talking about—the lower dan tian, I like to describe it, [is] keeping the fire lit, keeping the energy there, flowing and abundant.

We each have a responsibility of keeping our own fire lit for our life so we’re living with passion and purpose in the way that we’re moving through. When our lower dan tian carries the bulk of the energy and it’s warm, then we often feel really enlivened. In our culture, we’ll see the opposite. We often see cool pelvis. We’re flipped in our energy.

The neutral heart really means an open heart, without too much attachment. Again, it’s not always personal love. That’s the third chakra. It’s that ability to be able to be connected to transcendant love or Source at the heart. And it does feel wonderful. So it’s neutral in the sense that it’s not polarized.

The polarizing feelings—which we need to live our lives and to bring through whatever each of us is bringing through, and to be in relationship and to have our families—[those] come from the third chakra. And people confuse this. The fourth chakra is collective and it’s transpersonal. It’s not a personal love. It can say “no” as easily as it can say “yes.” Without winter, we wouldn’t have spring. The heart chakra gets that. The body gets that. But the personal process doesn’t like it when a winter comes into our life, meaning an area where we’re getting pruned back or something difficult comes.

And the cool head would be a mind that is not—where the energy is not so chaotic and full. So the thoughts are coming in and the mind is working in a way that is much calmer. Often what I see is hot head, neutral heart that might actually be attached, and cool pelvis. And one of the first things I do, and one of the first things I did with myself, was actually have that shift.

It’s the same mystery that we were talking about at the beginning of our conversation, when we were talking about being connected at the root chakra and the lower dan tian—having the assemblage point at the lower half of the body, actually in the lower body, really allows for that fire below.

TS: Now, you tell a pretty amazing story in the book about a trip that you took to Mexico, and how the fire below in you got lit, if you will—turned on in a very, very strong and enduring way. Can you share that with us?

AMC: Yes. Well, first let me start by saying I had chronic pelvic pain for 30 years. So I had this way that my body was ill because of a kidney infection, and I had lots of pain down in my lower abdominal area. So I did lots of holding because I had pain. I was often holding my pelvis very tightly to try to stop this pain from having this chronic kidney infection, chronic bladder infection.

When that cleared up—I actually started doing this work to help clear up some pain that was left over after I’d gotten the problem taken care of medically. In the process of trying to work with the energy body and realizing that I didn’t have good energy flow in the lower half of my body, I started to see these healers. And one of the healers we went to see was a gentleman named Don Jorge Gomez.

[He was an] extraordinary healer. He had been born in the Yucatan and had gone to live with his father at one point, and had been trained in psychic surgery. He was extraordinary. He was brilliant; he spoke 10 languages. He was amazing, and he could do healing very quickly, a form of psychic surgery.

So I went down to see him many times, because each time I would go down, I’d come back and I’d think, “OK, I made that up. I could not have seen what I saw down there. That’s just impossible.” Then I’d have to go down and see him again, because it was so out of my framework from conventional medicine that what he was doing was possible, that I had to go see it over and over and over. Because I would come home and I’d reconstellate like it wasn’t happening.

Anyway, on one of the trips, I woke up one morning and I had this feeling like there was a buzzing in my lower pelvis, like there was a bee that was trapped inside of me and it was getting stronger and stronger and stronger. And I was sitting on a bed. This was the Christmas trip that I talked about earlier.

I was sitting on a bed talking to some friends—it was Christmas morning, actually. And I noticed the buzzing, and it was so strong that you could feel the vibration in the entire bed. We were all sitting. We’d gotten up and we’d gathered in this room. We were sitting next to one of our friends, and one of the women said to the other, “Do you feel that?” And my other friend said, “Yes.” They said, “Wow.” And I could tell it was coming from me. It was so strong that it was palpable in the bed.

And I feel that a lot now. It’s like a quiet humming or vibration that I feel in the lower dan tian. And I think that was when I really noticed that I was connected in from the assemblage point between my legs in the lower body. And I went and I asked my teacher about it, who I was on this trip with, and I said, “Oh my goodness, I think I just connected into the shamanic field or the unified field from my root chakra. This is unbelievable.” And I started just having this whole different experience.

And I asked her, “When did this happen to you?” And she said, “Oh, I’ve always been connected there. It’s through the mind that I wasn’t connected.” And then she started telling the story about what happened to her the first time her mind connected into the unified field.

So it can happen at different centers, and the first time my heart connected, I think, was probably in 1997—connected in the fullest way. I think we’re always all a little bit connected, but there’s an initiation where it really pops open as the assemblage point.

TS: Now, I’m curious, as you’re speaking, what happened when your heart connected to the unified field? What was that experience?

AMC: It’s infinite. It connects each time. But when I first had my heart pop open, I was at a conference learning about the heart center meditation and I dissolved into a pool of tears. There’s a remembrance and a crying. Jung used to talk about the tears are the solutio. They break up the ice around the heart.

And so I remember sobbing, and then everything looking different. Even the quality of touch. My body felt softer. The earth felt softer. The way I walked on the earth was different. Things made better sense to me the first time I popped it open. It was initiated, actually, by Brugh Joy, and it was in that conference where he moved into the heart center initiation that my heart chakra popped open. It was beautiful.

And now it continues to deepen and open and soften. It’s an infinite process, I think, with the heart. I think it’s a wellspring of learning, that it always has something new to teach me. I don’t think it’s like, “Oh, I’ve got the heart center down.” When I feel like that, I’m worried I’ve probably moved into my ego.

TS: Now, in the beginning of our conversation, Ann Marie, you talked about how it’s possible to connect to the unified field through multiple assemblage points.

AMC: Yes.

TS: And that there are these three points of the dan tians, which we’ve been talking about, but that there are actually other points that we could also connect to the unified field through. You mentioned, yes, the chakras, but I’m curious, are there are other assemblage points in the energy body that are worth pointing out?

AMC: I think the bottoms of the feet—that’s a great question. I’m still learning about this because I’m diving more and more into it myself, so some of this is coming to and through me. I think the bottoms of the feet are enormous. That would be the only other place.

So it’s about how many states of consciousness you can hold. In the Hopi tradition, each organ is a state of consciousness. So they consider each organ to be a state of consciousness, and disease in the body [happens] because the organs are not getting along. And in the Hawaiian tradition, they talk about [how] our ancestors go back in seven generations in both ways. Those might all be other ways that we could connect through. But the way I primarily do it is through the chakras. It’s a good ladder or map of states of consciousness that we can carry.

TS: Now, you also write in the book about how the assemblage points have a back entry. Can you mention a little bit about that?

AMC: Yes. I’m talking about the back of the chakras there. I mention it because the front of the body is what most people work on. We think about the front of our body, but the back of our body has just as much energy and has all those energy centers. And you can work with the back of the heart chakra, which is the one that I like to work with the most, but you can work with the back of any of the chakras.

Because what tends to happen is we work with the front and we sort of push everything we don’t want to deal with to the back of the body. That’s where things get stopped up. So one thing that I find really useful is to work with the back through tapping. Or if someone’s on my table, [I] just [have] them work on my table and work on the back of their chakras, because things will open very quickly. That’s the one part of the body we don’t work on.

I do this practice of back tapping, which is one of my absolute favorites. People tap each other on the back between the shoulder blades. That’s the Yaqui assemblage point, but it’s in every tradition. It’s the back of the heart chakra. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s bladder, and also some spirituality Shin Do points.

Everyone taps on the back of the heart. We innately know, from the level of touch, that it’s going to clear the heart and that it’s going to help people feel better and feel more centered. We do it to babies. That’s also a place for a soul retrieval, or where we lose and come in from parts of ourselves, if you look at the Yaqui tradition.

So tapping on the back of the heart, and tapping on the back of the chakras, and working with the back of the chakras is a really fast way of clearing them, because they can empty out there. And we don’t see a lot of practitioners doing it. When I get a healing session, somebody might work on my back. But mostly we talk about working on the front of the body, a lot of the times because we’re working on our own bodies.

So I’m really keyed into especially the back of the heart center, because I find it so therapeutic, and people love it. I was teaching it yesterday, five minutes tapping on the back, and the whole room was laughing. And then I came home and I watched the political debate, and I was watching at the end of the debate, [and] everyone was tapping everyone else on the back at the end. I was laughing. All the different candidates and all the different people who were up on the stage at the end—[it] didn’t matter what party they were, they were all tapping each other on the back of the heart center. I was cracking up.

We do it intuitively with the heart, because the heart has to be cleared so often. There’s a great teaching that you have to—one of my teachers used to say that you have to polish the heart every day. Not just once a year when you go to your meditation retreat. It has to happen constantly. So I love to work with the back of the chakras and the back of the body. I think mostly because we can’t do it to ourselves, and also we’ve just sort of lost that art of working with the back in a lot of our traditions.

TS: Now, if I was to offer—you call it “sacred touch”—this type of sacred touch at the back of somebody’s heart center, what would I do? How would I do that in a way that would really be beneficial for them?

AMC: Well, I mean, there’s a couple things you can do. Just resting my hand on the back of someone’s heart will offer them some comfort and healing. We innately rest our hand there. But the other thing you can do is just go right between the shoulder blades and just tap with your whole hand. Just pat them on the back, [tapping noise], over and over, for maybe two minutes, three minutes, four minutes.

And the person you’re doing it to will notice a very large chest expansion. It’s like a weight’s been taken off your shoulders. It’s the things that we haven’t really been willing to deal with or haven’t actually had the time to sit down and release. Things get caught in these energy centers, so if you just tap somebody there for at least two minutes—you can go up to five, although I find two minutes is a nice start—then stop and see what they experience. They’ll experience [an] expansion of their chest and they’ll probably say, “Do it some more!” Because it feels that good at the level of the body.

The other thing, if you’re just using sacred touch, then you just place your hand on somebody. You can put it on anywhere and flood them with reverence. People notice this. When I work with my dementia patients, some of them at end-stage dementia are not really connecting at all. Their eyes are closed and their heads often tilt to the side, and they’ve lost their ability to connect. And when I place my hand on them casually to do an exam, nothing happens.

But if I place my hand on them with reverence or sacred touch, like we did in that little meditation, and I really flood their body with gratitude and compassion and reverence, like, “Wow, here’s a body. Wow, thank you for letting me be here to touch you.” That kind of feeling comes through the hand. They will come out of their state with their eyes shut. They’ll pick their head up. They’ll look directly into my eyes. And then they’ll go back out.

That’s profound for me, Tami, because these folks are difficult to reach. And when I touch them with regular touch, nothing. When I touch them with compassion or sacred touch, it reaches them and they open their eyes and connect to me, maybe just for a few seconds, and then [they] go back out.

The only other time I find that happens is with laughter. We’ll be sitting in a room and people will be laughing and they’ll come out and just start to laugh, and then they’ll go back out. Or sometimes singing will do the same thing. You’ll notice it, they’ll come out of this dementia—it’s almost like a trance where the mind is not engaged at all with the world—and they’ll connect.

So that’s how profound touching somebody with sacred touch is. It has this deep, deep relationship to the body, and I think touch is preverbal. So I’m not sure we can even verbalize what’s happening, because touch was something that happened well before our thoughts appeared. It was already there before our thoughts appeared. So our thoughts and thinking can’t really constellate around something that happened before. That’s what I mean by preverbal. It’s that deep and it’s that profound at the level of the body. I went on a little tangent.

TS: Just one final question, Ann Marie: The book that you’ve written, Energy Healing: The Essentials of Self-Care, is your first book, and a book that I am just so proud Sounds True is publishing. I think it will be so helpful to many, many people.

And I was mentioning to you how much I enjoyed the final manuscript that I had the chance to read in preparation for this conversation. And you said to me that now that you’ve written this and that you’ve gotten this all out of your system, that new things are coming to you, new insights. And I’m curious if you could just share one of those insights with us as a note to end our conversation.

AMC: So the insight that has been most present to me recently is how important non-local consciousness is in our daily life. So by non-local consciousness, I mean that the awareness and the consciousness that is available to me is not mine the same way the energy is not mine. It depends on how I’m connected to the larger field.

Also, a lot of the wobbles and waves of change and transformation or even feeling that come through me are actually not just mine. There’s a wave that comes through the energy field. We each experience it through our own filter. So it might look like difficulty in this area, but it’s coming through all of us at the same time. What I’ve been working with now is, how does one stay centered, really centered, when these large waves come through? And also, what does that centering piece do to the wave that’s coming through?

Because when I can stay centered, I just see it as a wave of tension that comes through. It doesn’t just come through me. It’s almost like it comes sweeping across through all of us at the same time. And so I’ve been exploring more and more about how to stay centered during these waves, and then being able to actually see what the wave is. It’s just a wave of energy, and each one of us catches it in our own way.

That’s the next piece that I’ve been tumbling into. Breath is a great way to stay centered. It’s about doing the practice over—and center again, and center again. OK, now center. Center again. So it’s a constant practice, but if and when, on the days that I can do that, [get] completely centered and very well all the time, I start to see what most people see as tension or turmoil as just this wave of energy that comes through.

I have friends that I can call and say, “Are you feeling it?” “Oh yeah, I’m feeling it.” “Are you feeling it?” And we all feel it the same way. It gets expressed in different lives [in] different ways. For some people, it’s intensity; [for] some people, it’s excitement; [for] some people, it’s difficulty. But there are these waves that we are all on together, and it’s related to non-local consciousness in the sense that we’re all connected non-locally through this really large energy field. And it’s just how we stay centered in it.

Centering just over and over. Center. Practice. Center. Until it becomes natural. And then when it becomes natural, I noticed when it first started becoming natural was that my body will move into a different breathing pattern, and I’ll realize, “Oh, I must have been off-center.” Or I’ll have the longing to sit down and do a practice or put my hand over my heart.

I use mudras all the time, so that t-shirt line you were talking about, I made that line because that’s what I do. I place my hand over my heart and my lower dan tian to get centered. And it takes a lot of practice before that becomes an innate response when there’s stress. I noticed my breathing changing the most. My breath will move into this deeper diaphragmatic breathing, and it means that I just got off and came back online.

TS: I’m speaking with Dr. Ann Marie Chiasson. She has written a new book called Energy Healing: The Essentials of Self-Care. It’s a book that includes many practices and different approaches to working not just with the three dan tians that we’ve discussed, but also working with specific conditions and ailments and challenges, and many different approaches to staying healthy.

She’s also created with Sounds True a home-study course and an online training on Energy Healing, and has worked with Dr. Andrew Weil to create an audio program that’s an introduction to Self-Healing with Energy Medicine. Ann Marie, thank you so much for being with us on Insights at the Edge.

AMC: Thank you.

TS: Always good to talk with you. SoundsTrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.