I photographed my aura and felt so much more aware of myself

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Plus, I got a super moody, psychedelic selfie out of it.


Aura photography is on the rise, offering people a chance to see their unseen energies materialize into vibrant colors. / Aura photography by Inner Light Aura; background image courtesy of Getty Images.

After two pretty chaotic years (COVID bride here), I knew I needed to put more energy into my self-care routine. That’s why all of my 2022 “resolutions” revolve around creating more space for the things that bring me joy and replenish my energy: reading instead of unconsciously scrolling Instagram, moving my body but rest when I need it and drastically reduce my alcohol consumption. I even made it a point to try new wellness activities, like blowing glass, getting my chakra massages, and starting (and sticking to it!) a skincare routine.

So when I saw that my friend and wedding photographer Melissa McManus (of M2 Photography) had had her aura photographed in mid-January and raved about the experience, I knew I had to try. By investing more in myself these last three months, I found that I was more introspective, on a kind of path towards stronger self-discovery. I thought seeing my aura – the unique, non-visible energy field that surrounds each of us – materialize into vibrant, colorful orbs hovering above and around me would give me a better understanding of myself and, hopefully would leave me feeling more confident and equipped to evolve in a way that I am proud of.

On McManus’ recommendation, I booked a session with Inner Light Aura, an aura portraiture company based at University Hospital run by breath guide Sara Silverstein. And three weeks ago I ventured outside to figure out what exactly is going on with my ~inner vibe~ in hopes of getting a clearer picture of who I am and who I have the potential to become. .

The whole experience only lasts about 15 minutes, but contains so many discoveries. (Silverstein highly recommends recording your session – and trust me, you’ll want to.) First, you have your portrait taken using a machine designed in the 1970s by Guy Coggins, founder of Progen Aura Imaging. Silverstein made me sit in front of a box-like camera and told me to place both hands firmly on the silver sensors. They, she explained, collect your skin’s biomagnetic responses — like temperature and electrical properties influenced by emotional state — and transmit them to the main camera. (Silverstein uses an Instax.) About five seconds later, a Polaroid came out!

As we waited for the picture to develop, Silverstein asked me to select an oracle card from one of Inner Compass’ daily advice decks. She asks her clients to do this before diving into their unique aura readings to provide a moment of pause, reflection and joy. “Sometimes we all need a little nudge from the universe to tell us we’re headed in the right direction or just that we’re just fine,” Silverstein told me.

I pulled out the “Party Time” card, which surprised me – I didn’t feel super festive throughout February. (Winter blues, right?) Silverstein said that no customer had pulled this particular card in two years, which made us both happy to read its description:

“Stop being so serious. Let it all go. It’s a great day to celebrate life, leave your restrictions and rules behind. Today anything goes. In your subconscious, you hold norms and values ​​once planted by yourself or those around you. They give you a sense of morality and discipline. For good balance, let go completely once in a while. Think, “Fuck it!” and no game is good for anyone. Relax and seize the moment to dance, laugh or make love. Pour yourself a drink and toast to your successes, whether big or small. Get out of your head and paint the town red. In short, celebrate life.

As someone who has gone to Catholic school for most of my life, I felt so seen – I was brought up on discipline and making sure things went according to plan. And yet, pulling the “Party Time” card felt like the universe’s way of telling me that I could (and should!) set in motion a mindset shift to get out of my funk, make some space for fun and try to go with the flow more often.

Then it was time for the big reveal. When Silverstein turned the photo up, we both oohed and aahed at the heavy red orb taking up most of the shot. (Aras come in colors – sometimes multiple – that all have different meanings.) “Even though you’re a bunch of red, there’s a lot going on here!” she said, and began to delve into my aura analysis.

My aura, captured by Philadelphia-based Inner Light Aura. / Photography by Inner Light Aura.

Silverstein started with the bottom two corners of the image, which she says represent the masculine side (left side of the photograph) and the feminine side (right side of the photograph) of a person’s energy. Basically, the masculine side is the personality you project outward and how people feel when they’re around you, while the feminine is everything you and others receive.

Because my two corners are red, Silverstein explained that I’m the type of person who is grounded, courageous, passionate and good at leading (accurate, IMO) – and that I help others feel these things too. She told me it’s because red is strongly linked to the root chakra, which is associated with feelings of safety, security, and support. The male side is also a very “active” kind of energy, she said, which is important to keep in mind because mine is a bit weaker than my female side. “That means you’re a little tired – probably you’ve done too much,” Silverstein told me, as I nodded. My feminine side is full of “practical, fearless and powerful” energy, according to Silverstein, which shows that I use both inner power and energy received from others. And yet, there’s always room to be more selective about what or who I give my energy to, so that I don’t continue to feel emotionally drained (as evidenced by the duller blush on my male side).

From there, we moved on to the arc-shaped area above my head, which represents hopes and dreams, and energies waiting to be harnessed for personal growth. Pulling red here, Silverstein explained, means I want to manifest my aspirations and take concrete action. We also noticed a streak of purple in this area, indicating that not only am I empathetic, compassionate, and a good communicator, but I’m also a “manifold double.” (Hell yeah!) “Being a manifest double means you can create any reality you seek, but it requires you to take action to make it actually happen,” Silverstein said.

Although purple is present, it is not as strong as the surrounding red. This, she told me, alludes to the idea that I have a bit of mistrust about my goals and my future. Questions such as “How will my desires and actions be perceived?” and “If I want to try something new, how am I going to think about myself?” How do others?” often show up for me, which is absolutely true – I thought about this at length when reassessing my relationship with alcohol earlier this year.

To the right of the purple is a bit of magenta, which we had to use a flashlight to see because it almost blends in with the red. Magenta, Silverstein told me, mixes the grounding of red, the communicative blue and the honesty of white – a mixture that symbolizes an original, eccentric and creative thinker.

Finally, we looked at the orbs hovering over my throat and heart, which, like everything else, were red. While it represents a grounded nature in other parts of the field, Silverstein said pulling red in this area means I tend to be cautious when it comes to loving and speaking. “For your heart, you might want to consider if there’s a relationship in your life that doesn’t feel aligned right now,” Silverstein told me, to help ease that doubt or hesitation. “For your throat, maybe you’re feeling shy to talk or talk about something right now. In your energy field, there is something ready – and waiting – to come out of you, but you don’t necessarily feel safe enough to move forward with it right now. Red is a good reminder to wait until you really feel ready.

At the end of our session, I asked Silverstein if auras had the ability to fire different colors from session to session, to which she said there was often a good chance: “According to individual, there may be parts of the aura that are constantly stable. For example, my masculine and feminine energies are constantly red because I have to be grounded fundamentally as a breath specialist. But other parts may change, such as hopes and dreams, as these likely change over time.Your whole aura may also change with the season and times of transition in life, such as during a bereavement or a career change. During winter months and difficult times, an aura may not expand outward as much, remaining more contained or pulled around the body for protection. (Want proof? Watch how McManus changed in just six weeks.)

As I walked home that evening, I felt both affirmed and self-aware. (And I couldn’t help staring at my cool, brooding, new-age selfie.) I entered the session open to the possibilities and unskeptical, despite some criticism surrounding the photo trend. But I had no personal reason to be suspicious of the captured colors. For me, that would be like denying my own lived experiences; after all, we don’t just wear our emotions on our sleeves, we emanate them. Above all, however, I gained clarity, remembered that our energy flows where our attention goes – which is, in itself, a kind of magic.

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