An adaptation from John Nelson’s book A Guide to Energetic Healing (Rainbow Ridge Bookworks -e-book August 2017/paper May 2018). The book presents the Toltec practice of recapitulation to clear energy cords from trauma, especially physical and sexual abuse, either as a victim or a perpetrator.


Recapitulation, if properly and consistently used, can alleviate suffering of all kinds, especially in regard to relationships, past and present, where there is a lot of emotional baggage, and most especially if there has been any physical or sexual abuse. It can be particularly effective for repeat offenders and persistent victims because it can help clear away, if not the compulsive basis of the behavior, the history that feeds it and keeps us from clearly seeing why we do what we do, which is the first step to healing it.

A case can also be made that clearing the energy of the initial offense and its assault to one’s larger energetic field and clearing the subsequent violations it attracts will, in effect, as I’ve witnessed and experienced myself, heal the emotional complex itself and free us of it.

Creating cords
As energetic beings, every thought, emotion and physical action makes an imprint on ourselves and others. This is carried through by cords of energy that accompany these thoughts, emotions and actions and get lodged in other people’s energy fields as we interact with them, as theirs get lodged in our fields.

Let’s say you have an angry conversation with someone. During this exchange, energy cords from you get lodged in their energy field and those from them in yours. The next day you may have forgotten about this minor dispute, but your energy field has not, and those cords will stay in both of you forever. Even if the other person dies first, these cords still remain lodged in you, as I have experienced with people who have passed on. They stay there until you consciously recapitulate the event and unplug these cords.

You might ask, how can something so inconsequential have any long-lasting effect or repercussion? Let say you’re a basketball fan of the Golden State Warriors, and your angry dispute was with a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers and you claim that LeBron James played “bully-ball” to defeat your team in the 2016 NBA finals. You may never see that person again or may avoid seeing him, but this “exchange” has created a dark spot in your energy field, and it wants to be fed. So you may find yourself constantly running into other people, reading newspaper articles or viewing sports shows that renew this dispute and create more energetic cords and further widen the spot like a black hole consuming your soul.

As a result, an infinitesimal part of the energy you use to maintain various aspects of your life is lost or tied up until you recapitulate that first “event” and the related exchanges that have come up subsequently. Yes, it does seem rather innocuous. But let’s say that you’re a very angry person and have these kinds of disputes a half-dozen times a day for your entire adult life. Eventually your energy or prana will get so tied up by these cords and so depleted that you will open yourself to disease and accidents.

Now, let’s look at another aspect of this energetic or quantum entanglement. Let’s say as a young girl an uncle took “liberties” with you. Depending on how resilient you are, that one incident can come to define your relationships with men, and can, if not dealt with, attract one male abuser after another into your life. These can be lethal effects since sexual exchanges create the most potent and long-lasting cords. While there are also psychological reasons for this pattern and plenty of psychiatrists to deal with it at that level, energetically, a dark spot or hole has formed in your energy field that continuously wants to be fed.

Since a lot of people don’t come to serious spiritual practice until their late thirties or forties, can you imagine the state of their energetic bodies at that point? I can. While I’ve practiced yoga and meditated since my late teens, I didn’t start recapitulating until my mid-forties and must have spent a thousand hours since then clearing past histories and daily energetic “events.” Victor Sanchez has conducted nightlong recapitulations for his workshop participants, after they’ve written detailed histories listing every person in their life from birth forward to recapitulate.

This practice does not, however, require a lifetime commitment from you or a thousand hours of processing. It could be that the freedom or healing you seek will require recapitulating only a half-dozen crucial relationships, but that would entail every energetic exchange with each person.

Some years ago a woman friend of mine was complaining about a volatile relationship and her inability to free herself from it. I suggested she recapitulate this relationship and told her how to do it over the phone via long distance. She followed my advice, and a couple weeks later she reported having broken off the relationship and then running into the guy in the park, in which they had a cordial exchange but went their separate ways. She reported, “It was as if our whole combative relationship had never happened.”

Practice of Recapitulation
Both Carlos Castaneda in The Eagle’s Gift and Victor Sanchez in his book on recapitulation, The Toltec Path of Recapitulation, come at this practice, or art, with the idea of listing and then clearing every energetic “event” of significance in one’s entire life. Castaneda had an agenda of wanting to turn everybody into Toltec warriors, while Sanchez, like me, is more interested in helping people free themselves of emotional baggage, or so it seems to me. (Again, for you, this may not include a lifetime recapitulation.)

As such, both of them would have you start with the stalking exercise of The List. You break down your life from the present moment back to your birth into categories: for instance, (1) all your friends, and then into subcategories; (a) all your artistic friends, your business friends, etc.; (b) the good times, the bad times. Then ( 2) all the houses you’ve lived in; (3) all your jobs; (4) all the schools you attended, etc.

What all of these have in common are the people that populate each category, and so if that approach doesn’t appeal to you; then, as I’ve done, I would start with the people in your current life, make a list, pick one name, and then recapitulate every emotional exchange with that person back to the first time you met them. And after you’ve exhausted all the people on this list, then go back every six months or a year, and list all the new people you’ve met and have had significant “events” with, and recapitulate them. Keep making periodic lists of people and clearing them and then going on to the next person on the list until its exhausted and there are no more people and events to clear.

I will add, however, that while composing the list is a mental function, your energetic body will bring up during this practice other people and events you’ve forgotten, especially if there was something “nasty” going on with those people.

There is, however, another approach, which is based on instructions from don Juan in The Art of Dreaming. Don Juan explained that writing down a list — be it events or persons — and methodically following it was only one of two basic strategies: this first is called formality and rigidity. The second is called fluidity, which was the fastest route to accumulate great energy reserves very quickly. This second pattern is more of a jigsaw puzzle where you allow Spirit to pick the people and events to recapitulate after you’ve engaged your energetic body and await what comes up. This then falls into its own cohesive pattern to follow. This may be of use if your intent is to just clear the major energetic events of your recent life first before you tackle your entire life. It can also be used in conjunction with my six-month list where you don’t list the people per se, but “sweep” your field and see who comes up in each period of time.

The Breath
Since I first learned the “sweeping” breathing technique from Big Florinda’s description in The Eagle’s Gift, this is what I’ve used ever since and what I share with those whom I’ve taught the technique.

First, you sit still in a chair or on a sofa with your spine erect and your head facing forward, and then turn your head toward your right shoulder and while you inhale, sweep your head to your left shoulder, and then while exhaling sweep your head back to your right shoulder. Do this sweeping breath several times. This clears and preps your energetic body for the practice.

Then you bring your head to the middle and focus on the person and the situation you plan to recapitulate. Do the sweeping breath from right to left, and left to right again several times while you energetically feel out — not recall the memory per se — the person: what they are wearing, their hairstyle, any jewelry or watches, etc. Then you feel your way to the setting of where this took place: is it indoors or outdoors, in the winter or summer, is it cold or hot, what kind of furnishings are there? (I’m using the present tense because you are reliving the event, not recalling what happened in the past.)

So moving on to the actual recapitulation of the person and/or event, let me quote from Castaneda, p. 289 in The Eagle’s Gift: “By breathing [inhaling] from right to left while remembering a feeling, stalkers, through the magic of breathing, pick up the filaments they left behind. The next immediate breath is from left to right and it is an exhalation. With it stalkers eject filaments left in them by other luminous [energetic] bodies involved in the event being recollected.” (And once you recapitulated all the “events” with this person, do the sweeping head movement several times without breathing and without a focus on them to clear your field of them and move on to the next person.)

While this technique is rather simple, its proper application is actually more complex. What you are retrieving or removing from your energetic or luminous body are filaments or cords of feelings, and so you must not only relive what you are feeling, including everything this brings up, but the feelings directed at you by the other person, their anger or resentment.

Let’s say you’re having an argument with your husband about sending your child to private school. There are a lot of mental issues circling around this confrontation: money and budget for one, or maybe it’s an older sibling, a girl, and your husband wants to save the money for your son, who he claims can make better use of an education, etc. When expressed as such, you think that your daughter, like you were as a child, is being disenfranchised as a woman, etc. None of that matters, because it’s the feeling of your outrage over this situation, your history of being discounted, and maybe your husband’s intolerant attitude that fuels this exchange and creates the cords or filaments of energy that get attached to both of you.

Now, thinking about all of this from afar, it sounds rather daunting, but in reality you’re not doing a recall. Your energetic body, which wants you both to be freed of it, is having you bring up and relive all the feelings and something surprisingly so. The fact that we all recapitulate our entire life at the moment of death, or as so reported by those who have had near-death experiences, reassures you that this is a natural process and that your energy body knows what to do.

Trust it and trust the process. You’ll be amazed that as you release the superficial cords by your sweeping breath, how deeper and deeper levels of the experience arise until you get to the real core experience that needs to be “relived” and released.

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