I’m sitting in the testing accommodation center, flicking my pencil and worrying about the exam I’m about to take. I open my glasses case, slide on my glasses and pick out my two stones — usually an emerald and a tiger’s eye.

I have severe anxiety, but luckily, I have my stones.

Since I can remember, I have lived around stones, crystals and rocks. My homeopathic, Buddhist dad raised me with this form of healing, and it’s a significant part of my identity and spiritual practice. An active stone-bracelet wearer and crystal-pocket carrier, he knew that my sister and I needed good energy, and that we needed a type of healing that strayed from modern medicine.

I had crystals everywhere: my nightstand, my backpack, my swim bag, my glasses case. I would rub them when I had stressful exams to take, I would play with them before my races. When I got serious about meditation practices, I began to meditate with them in my palms or right beside me. No one understood my unique rock collection or the energy it cultivated.

When I asked my dad to talk about his journey with healing crystals, he told me he was not necessarily the right person to speak with. A dear friend of his and an alternative, homeopathic healer, Carrie Hamilton, was indeed the expert. Launching her own practice and specializing in flowers, gem and light essences, chakra based healing and energy medicine, Hamilton’s journey with the natural world has led her to spread her powers with others.

“I remember playing with them when I was a kid. I was drawn to stones and rocks and nature. My mom was always into gemstones and she was an artist, so I was always around colors,” Hamilton said in an interview with The Daily. After dabbling with crystals and energy healing in college, Hamilton decided to pursue it further and more intensely after experiencing her own health issues.

“I started studying chakras and found out there are certain stones related to certain organ troubles … you can lay stones on your body for certain parts of your system,” she said. Many think the idea of healing crystals is a bunch of bologna, but Hamilton replied that the more she studied it, “the more (she) found out how ancient this practice is.”

One of the earliest records of crystal and stone uses can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where they used them as a form of decorative wear and symbols of wealth. Over time, crystals and stones made their way through Europe and Asia, where communities began using them for medicinal and spiritual practices.

But it’s a different world for those of us who were raised with modern, Western medicine. Crystal healing doesn’t work as simply as taking a pill or getting a shot. As living, breathing creatures, crystals should be nurtured with our own energy and vice versa. They involve communication and care, as one would have with a pet or a plant. Hamilton mentioned that different “frequencies of a stones and densities of crystals” is what we can most resonate with. But it’s subjective.

“I learned how to work with colors and stones with corresponding challenges,” Hamilton said. These challenges can vary from person to person. For example, if one feels sadness or an overwhelming heartbreak, rose quartz can help lighten that emotional weight. Carnelian serves as an energy booster and can help find the strength within ourselves. Depending on what people need, crystals provide an energy to heal our chakra or emotional imbalances.

One of the most important aspects to crystal healing is finding ones that work best for you. Each person is drawn to certain stones for various reasons, including the stones’ color, shape, texture and radiating energy. Hamilton emphasized trusting that luring instinct because there is something in the subconscious mind that needs a certain crystal for a certain purpose. Regardless of our internal or external healing needs, crystals can show immense changes to our mind, body and soul.

“I encourage people that, if they’re traveling, to pick up a rock or stone, even from the ocean of the side of the road,” she said. “I’m always fascinated to see the different types of stones that you could find.”

After my dad introduced me to crystals, I gradually found myself instinctually picking up sea glass from the ocean or shiny rocks on hiking trails. Despite knowing their potential power, I’m drawn to certain stones for specific reasons, quickly adding them to my spiritual rock family.

If the concept of “using” healing crystals still feels funky, Hamilton also makes mala jewelry: a string of different stones, crystals and rocks that is used in spiritual practices, similar to the use of a rosary. Just by having the mala beads around your wrist and sharing your energy with it, these beads can have a positive effect on your thoughts and your aura.

I’ll hold my citrine in meditation, play around with larimar in my pocket before an interview and I’ll sit with my quartz in the bathtub. Just like medicine, crystals serve different functions in a method that feels so natural, so ineffable. Here, I can feel a change in their temperatures, the vibrational pull and push they have in my hands. My crystals make me feel more grounded and connected to the natural world.

“When you realize the core of the Earth is made of (rocks) and is affecting it, how could we also not be affected by these crystals?” she asked.

After the interview with Hamilton, I look to my crystals sitting on a clear plate near my bedroom window. I close my eyes and try to embrace the energy that is currently circulating in my very own room. “People forget that (crystals) are like plants. They are growing and shifting. It’s just a much slower process than we are used to seeing,” Hamilton said.

I face challenges each day knowing that I am growing with each mistake or stressful event that comes my way. Yet, there are my crystals, in their dish, bathing in sunlight. They’ve always been there, sharing their energy, healing me and growing alongside me.

“Be playful. Enjoy it. Get back to that childhood state of really connecting without judgment. They (stones) absolutely respond to our affection, our conversation, and our connection with them … It’s that living energy that we are part of it and helps us feel that oneness again.”

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