We tried a one-on-one private energy healing session with John Amaral
John Amaral
Credit: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

Who Tried It:

Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE Reporter/Writer

What It Is:

John Amaral’s Energy Flow Formula, a one-on-one private energy healing session. One 90-minute VIP session is $2,500.

With over 25 years of experience, Amaral — the man behind Julianne Hough‘s Exorcist-like viral video — is an energy practitioner, who previously worked as a chiropractor.

After battling severe asthma, allergies and eczema when he was younger, Amaral wanted to develop a method to help others to express and release energy that he says can be stored up when dealing with traumatic experiences or diseases.

“This method is something I developed after over 30 years of studying and working with people,” Amaral tells PEOPLE. “I had a practice for two decades and the method I developed is not a treatment. This is not a diagnostic for any condition. This is a method that combines a bunch of different things I’ve studied. Whether that was early in my life through marital arts and tai chi qigong, meditation and different techniques within chiropractic that then evolved into working off the body an in the field of energy around the body.”

“My study of physics, quantum physics and anatomy and biology — I combined those all together to create what I called energetic flow,” he says.

Amaral explains that through this “energetic flow,” one is able to access a zone where “you feel free, you feel open and you feel connected to your body.”

“You have a sense of release and that relief happens when your body comes out of fight-or-flight. We’re all in a very hyper connected world digitally. We’re out of sync with our bodies and everything from what feels right, what we should put in our body. We’re often looking outside of ourselves for the right diet, the right exercise, but yet we still feel anxiety and that only happens with connection.”

“What I’m doing is really based on scientific principles of energy. This is not based on any kind of religious or spiritual practice. It’s very based on how energy works — the ability to do work. This practice is about accessing energy you may couldn’t get to and liberating it. So, there’s a feeling a freedom and flow when something that has been bound up is freed. We can store energy and hold it in the bounds, and muscles. When you free that, it might come out as noise, shaking, movement. It’s just a release of energy. and how it’s released is what you see and feel. the body is finally releasing.”

As for who he recommends try out his method, Amaral says “Anyone can benefit.” Although, the price point for a private session makes it out of reach for most people.

Amaral began making headlines earlier this month after appearing on Gwyneth Paltrow‘s Netflix series The Goop Lab. He began working with Paltrow after moving to Los Angeles last year when he sold his practice to be closer to his daughter who enrolled in UCLA.

What Happened:

Prior to the session, I worried it’d be a negative experience or that I would feel absolutely nothing (and that would be especially wasteful considering the price). The videos that surfaced online were concerning, but I figured it’s best to just surrender any fears and try to be open minded, as the purpose of the practice is to rid me of negative energy.

Before starting the session, I was asked to give my entire life story in detail. We started with my birth (I was born prematurely) and my childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, as he explained all of these experiences have an affect on the relationship I have with my body. I then delved into my family dynamic, my move to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University and more recently my life in LA. Just talking to him felt therapeutic and emotional, but I still wasn’t sure if it was just because I knew I was supposed to feel this way and I had already opened up to the idea.

We also talked about health scares I’ve had, which include my having to undergo surgery in April 2019 after developing a 20 cm cyst on my left ovary. As I was talking about my procedure, I shared that I often worry about the cyst growing back or that I’m not fully healed. Amaral assured me that through our work together, I’d learn to let go of that fear as well as release tension and stress that I unknowingly let build up in that area. He explained that we often hold on to stress in certain places of our bodies due to traumatic experiences, or life events, which only lead to more problems. Sometimes, it’s as simple as clenching your jaw during a hectic work day.

“Your body is in a stress state because you’re not moving that energy or expressing and it and so it has to come out,” Amaral explained. “We want to have a more kind and gentle relationship with our bodies.”

“There are places where we experience a certain stress or trauma and our bodies go into fight or flight and we can lock down certain areas (for example, around our throat or tailbone) and they will change because there’s pressure there, it changes the literal tone of the tissues, which changes the experience of the whole residence of the body.”

Amaral then led me to the table where I was instructed to lie face down as he played mediation music.

He began by asking me to turn my head to the left and to the right before back to center. Next, without touching me, he addressed my lower body, specifically my pelvis area where I had surgery. He moved his hands above my body and told me to take a few deep breaths into my lower abdomen.

After about 10 minutes in, I remember not feeling anything more than just being in a deeply relaxed state.

He continued working, guiding me through the practice with his words as he waved his hands over my body, snapping his fingers at certain points.

Roughly 20 minutes later, I found myself overcome with emotion. I consider myself to be a passionate person, but I was stunned that I just began to sob uncontrollably.

“There’s a lot of trapped energy in your lower body and your legs,” Amaral told me as I continued to breathe in and out, letting out a sigh or a noise each time in an attempt to encourage energy to leave my body. He encouraged me to be as expressive as possible because he said it helps push the energy out of my body.

It wasn’t until he instructed me to turn on my back that my experience changed. Each breath was deeper and each sigh was louder and more dramatic. I was of course in control, but it was almost as though my body was more in control than my brain was.

That’s when I began to move. As Amaral motioned his hands over my chest, my body began to jerk. It was as though he was pulling something out of me, but without even touching me. My chest continued to lift and then my pelvis area did the same. I was shaking and I couldn’t control it. It wasn’t a violent shake, but still noticeable. I felt lighter by the second, letting more noises out with my breath.

Amaral then instructed me to place my hands gently above my surgery scar in an attempt to comfort and sooth the area, but at the same time to also release fear and regain trust. As I did this, my body again began to jolt involuntarily. This jerking went on for the remainder of our session and then it all came to a calm stop. When I asked why I was writhing uncontrollably, he shared that it was because the energy was literally leaving my body and it feels so aggressive because that energy was confined to such a tight space for long — like a can of soda after it’s been shaken up.

After the work was done, I lay there until I was able to sit up. I felt a bit alarmed at first because I was extremely lightheaded and dizzy, but Amaral assured me this was normal after moving such enormous amounts of energy around. In the end, I simply felt good. I felt lighter. It was literally like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders — not a drastic difference but different none the less.

The Verdict:

For me, it was a dynamic experience. Since my session, I’ve felt good. I haven’t noticed more involuntary movement. I simply feel lighter and less tense. I’ve never done energy work like acupuncture or Reiki, or anything similar to this. It was interesting to be that vulnerable and have my body move on its own. I think having had a recent experience as difficult as surgery allowed me to have something concrete to work with.

While $2500 a session isn’t feasible for most people, Amaral said he has clients of different backgrounds. He said he works with everyday people as well as the Hollywood elite, and offers webinars for under $20 and other online courses that are affordable.