In our NLP and Huna trainings, I’m often asked to define energy (i.e. metaphysical energy) and to explain what it is and how we can work with it. Historically, western thinking denied the existence of energy and western scientists specifically focused on proving that energy was not real. Today, modern science acknowledges the existence and importance of energy and increasingly recognizes the connections between energy and matter. But most of us grew up with little knowledge of energy and how to use it — though we have all experienced its effects.


Electricity is an example of a manifestation of energy. Yet even this physical manifestation of energy cannot be seen. If you pull back the insulation on a wire from a lamp, you won’t see electricity flowing through the wire to the light bulb. You only know it’s present because the bulb is lit – or by the shock you receive when touching the live wire!


The personal effects of energy are similar to that of electricity. Many people will not see energy or know what it is when they first start working with it. But most will still notice its effects. We’ve all had days when we wake up and feel that we’d rather stay in bed. Other days we wake up and we feel that we could tackle the planet. What is the difference? From a Huna perspective, the difference is in the amount of energy you have.


Understanding Ho’omana


In many places in Hawai`i, before Huna was called Huna, it was called Ho’omana, which literally means ho’o (to make) and mana (energy). A major focus of Huna or Ho’omana is learning to control the energy in your body and in your environment, just like the control you have over the lights and electrical appliances in your home. This approach is very similar to other disciplines that I have studied such as Reiki. But before learning to control it, you must start with a basic understanding of what it is, and learn how to recognize it as it occurs in your life.


To understand the specific effects of metaphysical energy, Huna divides energy into different qualities, and labels them according to associated external physical elements: air, fire, water and earth. Almost every system on the planet uses these same four basic labels to describe energy. But while there is a link and a similarity to the qualities of energy and its external counterparts, (e.g. energetic fire and physical fire), they have some differences.


Energetic Elements vs. Physical Elements


For example, while physical wai (which means water in Hawaiian) and metaphysical wai both have the same name, there are differences in how metaphysical water reacts with the body. Metaphysical water acts as an attractor, and many esoteric systems, including Huna, refer to water as being magnetic. This is different than physical water. The term magnetic helps describe how emotions that you hold in your body will attract similar emotions and energies to you. Have you noticed that angry people tend to attract or create angry situations in their lives? Huna would explain that this has (in part) to do with the emotion and the wai.


When a student begins to become conscious of energy, fire energy is often a good place to start. Fire is one of the easier elements to feel and experience. While some people can initially sense water, air or earth more, fire tends to be more distinct and noticeable for most of us. This is important because we learn to recognize new things based on measuring differences. For instance, my two children learned to distinguish day and night based on the difference in lighting. I know this sounds really simple, and that’s because energy is simple.


Your Reaction to Energy


Simply put, we recognize that we are experiencing energy by different feelings or sensations in the body. But these specific feelings or sensations are a unique, personal experience. A student once asked me to describe the feeling of the fire element and wondered if he would feel heat as we began to work with it. With energy, the answer is “Anything is possible, and everything is right.” This can be frustrating for a beginner, and this frustration can block the experience itself. But discovering the unique, personal way each student feels the various qualities of energy is part of the learning process that all students need to experience.


We all know the sun is coming up tomorrow with 99.99% certainty, but the way we experience that sunrise differs. I am a morning person: I love to see the sun and tend to get a lot done in the morning. When I was younger, I was a night person and avoided the early mornings. Everyone has a unique reaction to morning, and similarly, everyone will have a unique reaction to energy.


If a person is naturally fiery and full of the fire energy, another person’s fire may feel like a pressure or a tingle. In a couple of extreme examples, my students have felt another’s fire energy as cool. So at the early stage of working with energy, it’s misleading to say that “fire energy feels hot.” Rather, I ask students look for certain sensations: a change in temperature (hot to cold or cold to hot), or a change in pressure or sensation (usually as a tingling in the body). At the beginning of an energy session, a student should simply focus on noticing how they experience the energy.


Directing Your Energy


When the sensation of one energy becomes distinct, it’s a good idea to work with the other energies and notice your experience of each one. With practice, you’ll be able to distinguish these energies when they occur naturally. When I first began working with energy as a child, the fire energy was really hot to me. One day, I noticed the same fire sensation happening inside me while trying to do school work. By noticing and understanding it, I was able to take control of the direction and focus of that energy, and use it to get my work done.


Once you have a basic understanding of energy and have learned to recognize it, you will be ready to learn to control it. That way, your mana will enhance your life experience as it’s intended to do!


Matt James