Everything is energy. And not just in a "woo-woo", new age sense. Einstein said the same thing. Everything around us is energy vibrating at different frequencies. Sound and light waves vibrate at frequencies we sense and interpret as tones and colours. Electromagnetic radiation (radio-waves, X-rays etc) are forms of energy we can't perceive, but can measure. Even physical matter is energy vibrating at different frequencies – solid matter vibrates slowly, liquids vibrate more quickly, and gasses quicker still. Measuring some forms of energy such as the human biofield, or aura, are still in their infancy and are controversial, but it wasn't long ago that we couldn't measure any form of electromagnetic radiation!
Just as the world around is made of energy, so too are we. The brain and body are driven by measureable electrical impulses. Knowledge of the body's energetic structure (the chakra system, along with and the more complex meridians in Chinese medicine) has been a part of various traditions for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It's even a part of our everyday language and culture. We feel "broken hearted", corresponding to disrupted or depleted energy in our heart chakra. We get a "frog in our throat", corresponding to a blockage in our throat charka which governs communication. We get "butterflies in our stomach", corresponding to the sacrel chakra which governs emotions and our zest for life. Rulers wear a crown - a symbolic representation of their connection to the divine, corresponding to the crown chakra.
Just as our thoughts, actions and diet affect our energy in a way we can perceive, so too can we directly affect energy. Different systems have developed to do exactly that. The most well-known of these is Reiki, along with the "laying on of hands" in Christianity and other religions. During energy healings, beneficial energies are channelled into the client, who will usually feel something. Whether it's a warm or relaxed feeling, or a tingling, we get a real sense that something is happening during such healings. The innate knowledge of the recipient will then use this energy to heal or assist them as needed.
For example, a client has tendonitis of the elbow, or tennis elbow. The healer channels the appropriate energies into the elbow (and the rest of the energetic body), but then the client's body takes over and directs these energies into the physical body to reduce inflammation and rebuild the damaged connective tissue. The cause of the soreness may also be metaphysical in nature (in the case of a sore elbow, around not being flexible to change) and the client may become aware of where they are being inflexible in their life in some way. Becoming aware of this resistance can make the physical ailment heal more rapidly. Although a strange concept to begin with, these manifestations of illness are a way our body uses to communicate with us when we aren't open to seeing life's lessons clearly.
Different energy systems give access to slightly different energies, with different uses and effects. The energy systems we work with during healings are:
Perhaps the most well-known energy healing system, Reiki originated in Japan and means "universal life energy".
More recently developed by the Ashati Institute, this is an emotional and mental healing system to connect you to your higher self and your own wisdom.
Also developed by the Ashati Institute, this system is more focused on the physical body and energies that directly affect it.
Sometimes taught and practised alongside Reiki, this is an elemental based system that seems to have originated from Ancient Egypt.
An ancient aspect of Reiki that was thought lost, Golden Dragon is a way to connect to the earth's energies.