“I feel like he’s sucking all of the positive energy out of me,” she said.
I nodded in understanding. “Kind of like an energy vampire?” I asked.
I was speaking with Sonya, a longtime student who was having problems with a colleague at work.
Over the years, I’ve had similar conversations with dozens of students.
I’ve heard it all:
…the college friend who always dumps drama on you during impossible-to-escape phone conversations.
…the committee member who asks you to volunteer even more of your valuable time.
…the family member who constantly needs your attention, almost like a newborn baby.
…the boss who seems to suck the energy out of the meeting room.
All of these are examples of energy vampirism.
I taught Sonya how to handle her energy vampire, and in this article I’ll show you how can learn to protect your life force — your qi — from the energy vampires in your own life.
As you’ll see, mindfulness is a major theme of this article.
I believe that mindfulness is essential. Specifically, I believe that qigong is the most effective mindfulness practice for protecting against energy vampires.
If you don’t know qigong yet, that’s okay. You can learn it for free here, and I’ll share some other techniques in this article as well.
You can also adapt the mindfulness skills that you’ve already learned from yoga, sitting meditation, or tai chi.
But one way or another, mindfulness will be like your energetic garlic cloves in protecting against vampires.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a modern buzz word, but it’s not new.
It comes from the ancient Buddhist concept of sati, which simply means an awareness that is focused in the present moment.
All forms of meditation teach mindfulness. Whether you focus on your breathing, your movement, or a mantra, the goal is to stay right here, right now, in this present moment.
With qigong, we use mindfulness to cultivate our vital energy, called qi.
We can cultivate our qi toward various goals — for health and vitality, for mental clarity, for martial arts, or for spiritual cultivation.
In this case, we can also cultivate our qi toward the goal of protecting ourselves from energy vampires.
What Is an Energy Vampire?
Let’s talk briefly about what energy vampirism is and isn’t.
The phrase “energy vampire” is not my invention. It’s used frequently in the world of energy arts, and also in the world of psychology.
I think it’s a pretty good term, but I’d like to clarify the word here.
Energy vampires are nothing like what you find in Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel “Dracula”.
In the book, Count Dracula goes around sucking blood, killing people, and generally being an all around evil villain.
That’s not what we’re talking about here.
Energy vampires aren’t villains, and they are not evil.
Misguided, yes. Unaware, yes. Self-centered, yes.
But evil, no.
Energy vampires are everywhere. You may have a friend, a colleague, a lover, a parent, a child, a neighbor, or a teacher who is an energy vampire.
So what is an energy vampire?
An energy vampire is a person who manages their own energy by tapping into someone else’s energy.
They’re not sucking your blood, but your energy. Doing this makes them feel better, at your expense.
Once we better understand this phenomenon, we’ll be better equipped to not only protect ourselves, but to help those who are stuck in a negative cycle of energy vampirism.
Mindfulness For Two
Below, I’ll talk about specific mindfulness techniques that you can use to protect yourself from energy vampires.
But first, we need to understand that mindfulness is the answer not just for you, but for the vampire as well.
It takes two to tango.
If either side suddenly became more mindful, then the vampirism would gradually disappear.
If the vampires themselves were more mindful, if they used some of the techniques in this article, then they wouldn’t need to suck energy from friends, family, and colleagues.
Similarly, if the “victims” were more mindful, then the vampires wouldn’t be able to suck energy from them in the first place.
A lack of mindfulness is at the root of the problem because it causes…
- …poor mental/emotional boundaries
- …inefficient energy management
- …insufficient or excess empathy
- …unclear thinking
- …emotional immaturity
Ideally, we want to work to increase the mindfulness of BOTH sides, but as with all things in life, you have to start with yourself.
8 Tools for Protecting Yourself
Here are 8 useful tools for protecting yourself from energy vampires.
1. Control your Yi.
Yi is a Chinese word that means “intention”. In qigong, and also in Chinese martial arts, it is believed that the yi leads the qi, or vital energy.
In other words, wherever your attention goes your energy flows.
If you give an energy vampire too much yi, then your energy will flow there. For example, if you let an energy vampire talk your ear off for an hour, you’ve just given them an hour of yi.
Controlling your yi requires mindfulness. You need to be aware of where your yi is focused if you want to control it.
All qigong strengthens your control of yi, not just during your qigong session, but throughout your day.
In other words, practice qigong if you want better control of your yi.
2. Practice Metta
Metta Meditation, or Loving Kindness Meditation, is an ancient Buddhist practice that can change your life.
Of course, it’s not just from the Zen tradition. Jesus taught similar ideas, but used different words.
The way that I teach Metta involves 4 stages:
- Stage 1: Send loving kindness to someone you love (pets count).
- Stage 2: Send loving kindness to a neutral person (like a cashier or a Starbucks barista).
- Stage 3: Send loving kindness to someone you dislike.
- Stage 4: Send loving kindness to yourself.
Here’s a 10-minute guided audio where I lead you through all 4 stages. It’s free.
3. Smile from the Heart.
There’s a wonderful qigong technique called Smiling From The Heart. It’s an invisible technique, and it’s difficult to describe. Honestly, it’s easier done than said.
That’s why I created a free audio:
Once you get the hang of this technique, it’s a lifesaver. You can use it all the time.
For example, let’s say that your boss is an energy vampire, and there’s nothing you can do to escape. You can’t leave the meeting, you can’t start doing qigong, and you can’t stand up.
I don’t know exactly why this technique works so well against energy vampires, but it does. Try it, and you’ll see. It’s amazing!
4. Use Square Breathing.
Square breathing, sometimes called box breathing, is a technique that is found in many different traditions.
Recently, it was adopted by the Navy SEALs for staying calm under pressure.
The concept is simple. There are 4 parts to any breathing:
With Square Breathing, all 4 parts are equal length, whether that’s 2 or 4 seconds.
This technique not only reduces anxiety, but roots you in the present moment.
You can learn it in this free class I taught on anxiety. The lesson on square breathing begins at 33:32.
5. Gather more Qi.
In qigong, there are 12 different things that you can do with the qi. For example, you can circulate it, direct it, or consolidate it.
One of the most important skills in qigong is learning how to gather more qi. Since qi is our prime ingredient, more of it is useful.
It might seem like having more qi would just invite an energy vampire to suck more of it, but that’s not my experience.
When your qi is robust and abundant, then energy vampires become more like energy mosquitoes. It’s no big deal if they suck a little of your energy.
More importantly, your robust energy field seems to act as a shield, protecting you from energy vampirism.
Unfortunately, gathering more qi is not a quick fix. It’s a skill that requires time, practice, and proper instruction.
I teach the subtleties of this skill about halfway through my online program called Qigong 101: The Art of Healing for Busy People.
6. Become More Sensitive
Some people are naturally sensitive to the energy around them, and the energy in their body.
Others, like me, need to train the skill.
Either way, it will be incredibly useful in dealing with energy vampires.
Often, we don’t notice that we’re drained until after the fact. We feel drained, and wonder where all our energy went.
If you can be mindful and sensitive to your energy being drained, then it’s much easier to act appropriately with one of the tools in this list.
7. Cultivate Gallbladder energy.
Certain qigong techniques, like Punching With Wide Eyes or One Finger Shooting Zen, cultivate energy in the Gallbladder Meridian.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, when the Gallbladder Meridian is strong, you’ll act with more courage, decisiveness, and righteousness.
Great, so how does that help with energy vampires? Quite simple, it gives you the courage to say no.
“No” is a complete sentence. You must learn to say it politely but firmly.
For example, when a colleague asks you to knock off tasks from HER to-do list, just say no.
If you cringe at the thought of saying no — then you need to cultivate more Gallbladder energy!
8. Cleanse with Qigong
The tools above are great, but the truth is that they will take time to learn and implement.
In the meantime, you’ll need something to recharge after a failed attempt to protect yourself from an energy vampire.
The solution is simple: Do qigong, ASAP.
If you can do it immediately, then do it. For example, if you feel drained after a phone call, go do qigong.
Qigong will naturally cleanse the negative energy, and bring in some fresh energy, like exchanging CO2 for oxygen.
Don’t take my word for it. Next time you get sucked dry by an energy vampire, do 2-3 minutes of qigong. See how much better you feel!
How to Help Energy Vampires
As I said earlier, it would be ideal to not only protect ourselves, but to help energy vampires.
This serves two purposes.
First, it gives them an honest chance to find better tools to manage their own energy. It’s a growth opportunity for them.
And secondly, it allows us to relinquish our guilt for saying no to them.
For example, if you introduce an energy vampire to qigong, but they don’t pursue it — well then you did your best. It’s no longer your responsibility.
In other words, we strike a balance, a yin-yang harmony between helping ourselves and helping the vampire.
- Energy vampires are not evil.
- Mindfulness is the key to protecting yourself from energy vampires.
- Mindfulness works for both vampire and “victim”.
- Qigong is perhaps the best mindfulness tool for the job.
- Try the tools above and see if they work for you.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about your experiences with energy vampires. And tell me how these tools work for you.
As always, I encourage you to make this a dialogue rather than a monologue!Comment below. It’s easy! Mindfully yours, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world how to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. As the director of Flowing Zen and a board member for the National Qigong Association, I'm fully committed to helping people with these arts. In addition to my blog, I also teach online courses and offer in-person retreats and workshops.