“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 buzzword, 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:
Click here to experience the technique for free.
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 simply, 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 some qigong, especially the 5-Phase Routine. See how much better you feel![Want to learn an enjoyable and easy 15-minute qigong routine? Click here for an online course that will give you everything you need to start enjoying the wonderful benefits of qigong today!]
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! Best regards, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong (pronounced "chee gung") to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Today, I'm the director of Flowing Zen, an international organization with students in 48 counties. I've been teaching qigong since 2005, I've served on the board for the National Qigong Association, and I’ve helped thousands of people to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. If you're ready to get started with qigong, there's no better way than my best selling book, which comes with free videos and meditations. The sooner you read my book, the sooner you can start healing! Click here to see my book on Amazon.
Ray Morneau says
Thank You! Thank you, Sifu Anthony!! That is so inspiring – precisely the positive push I need right now!
I do all that, don’t ya know … especially since (virtually) meeting you here a couple of yeas ago. Though I’m an old hand at it, not old enough!!
I need a better trigger … once the sucking starts, I too often feel caught unawares and I “suddenly” wake up derailed. Your blog here may help me sort out my own mindfulness and get back on track more quickly.
I’ve found that sometimes just a few extra conscious, extra deep, extra controlled breaths helps! … maybe like the start of “squaring” it??!!?? Often followed by a few seconds (or minutes) of Gathering Qi From The Cosmos … maybe even just “mentally”/silently. Your blog will help me see where that fits in and build out from there!!!
Monica Marquis says
Love this post! This happened to me yesterday! A vampire sucked the life out of me and I had to lay down! Easy to forget the impact others have, even if you are not fully listening.
The mirror of Zen is another way to transcend energy vampirism, which I found nicely expressed by this Hindu couple:
How to Stop Absorbing Other People’s Energy by Amritashraya & Devanatha
It is true mindfulness techiques help to preserve qi. Vampires can only tap and suck people’s energy when they let them, so I think tool number 7, along with loving kindness, is the most useful one because it helps to claim personal power back. Giving in to someone else’s manipulations and egotistical desires creates holes in one’s own energy field through which vampires suck qi. The more powerless the ‘victim’ feels, the larger the holes. It is important to claim back personal power and reaffirm one’s convictions. Smiling from the heart works as well because both hearts synchronize and this stabilize the vampire’s energy.
Great post Anthony, when are you coming back to Mexico?
Debora Giarrusso says
I will really need to cultivate Gallbladder energy!
It’s so difficult for me to say ‘no’, or to say something that I know will make someone angry… Thanks Sifu, I look patiently for you to teach us Punching With Wide Eyes in 101 program…
I’m also looking forward to cultivate gallblader energy. I really need to maintain my courage and decisiveness over longer periods of time. As for smiling from the heart and square breathing, these are easy and extremely effective and so enjoyable.
Debora Giarrusso says
David Whitham says
Great article thanks Sifu.
Claire Holland MD Licensed Massage Therapist\ says
What a Fabulous Post, Sifu! Compassion, Protection, and Strength all included! Thanks!! Claire Holland MD Licensed Massage Therapis
What about those who have had their gallbladder removed. What can they do?
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Did they also have their Gallbladder Meridian removed? If not, then they can still cultivate Gallbladder energy!
Well duuuh! Silly me! I forgot about thinking outside the box! : )
Dariusz Gwizdowski says
That’s an amazing piece of article.
I remember when my sister who is a masseur told me that she had one customer who always came at the same time of week and after his visit she was feeling exhausted, and drained to the bone.
That didn’t sound good at the time. But now i can let her know how she can sort that out :}
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
It’s very common among massage therapists. Qigong is a great solution for them.
Davina Hawkins says
Thanks for this article, Anthony! It helped me to realize that I am experiencing this very phenomenon in my inner circle, without taking an active approach to counter it. Now I have the toolkit to start repelling the vampire, and hopefully guide them to mindfulness, as well!
Sandra Cabeçadas says
Very good tips. Thank you for sharing.
I personnally have managed anxiety attacks practicing Heart and Lung Sound.
It works instantaneously to regulate breath and energy.
One thing you are absolutely right. You have to practice the technique.
If you have practived, the moment you need it you know in advance that you can do it.
This gives you the insurance you need to be able to change.
Keep on the good work.
I’m new to all of this. Meditation was used as a tool to hurt me so I equate meditation with pain. Somehow in the past 6 months I have released it. I’m wanting to learn it all and fast. But somewhat overwhelmed. I think someone had strong harmful intent against my energy and I have since had severe health issues. So bad that I lost my career and now disabled. So fatigued that I can’t function for long at all. Two back surgeries. I could go on but it’s boring. What I want to know is how to release something that may be more harmful than an energy vampire? Do I incorporate the same methods as you mention so kindly above? Thank you.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Hi Dawn. I’m sorry that you’re suffering. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot!
You’re welcome to try some of the ideas above, but honestly I’m not sure that I’m the right teacher for you. What you’re describing sounds like the stories of Taoist Magic, specifically black magic. It sounds like you’re saying that someone harmed you — without physical contact — so much that you were disabled, lost your career, and had 2 back surgeries. Is that what you’re saying?
If so, then I’m not sure I can help you. I am not an expert in Taoist Magic, and I’m not even sure whether I believe the old stories or not. I don’t mean to trivialize what you’ve been through. I’m quite sure you’ve been through hell and back!
If you want to lean qigong for health and vitality, if you want to decrease physical pain, have more energy, and be happier — then you’re in the right place. That’s what I help people to do. The infographic below the proven benefits of qigong, and that’s the kind of stuff that I focus on with my teaching: