a beginner's guide to healing crystals

rock out.

Whether or not you've packed your schedule with weekly Bikram yoga classes and private meditation practices, you may still want a little something that will help you to get in touch with your spiritual side—and add some major zen to your home as well. Enter healing crystals: stones found usually underground or in caves that are believed to to have individualized properties that help to balance energy in physical spaces and the body. The crystals have gained popularity as more people collect them to spur natural healing, prosperity, and good fortune.

While you can simply just collect the healing crystals that you think are the most pretty, there’s also a way to use these natural formations to maximize good vibes all around. By understanding the meanings of healing stones, as well as their proper care and keeping, you’ll be well on your way to restoring balance to your life—as well as bringing prosperity, love, and power your way. Let’s break it down to the basics.

What are healing crystals?

The use of healing stones dates back to ancient times, so this isn’t a new trend in holistic practices. “Huge quartz crystals are referred to in ancient Sanskrit writings,” says Patricia Bankins, founder of The Crystal Matrix Healing & Learning Center. “Egyptians used rose quartz as a beautifying aid and amethyst as protection for their traveling emissaries.” Information about healing crystals has been passed down millennia—making this practice a time-tested spiritual tradition that crosses cultural barriers. Today, crystal healing is not necessarily attached to a specific religion, though it has been connected to many in the past.

Crystals are seen as a spiritual way to balance energy—affecting emotions, relationships, and the like. While the practice seems inherently mystical, practitioners do not view the use of healing stones as magical. “Every crystal has its own kind of energy—some boost our mood or levels of vitality, some help to calm us down, some make us more attractive to other people, some help us focus, etc.” says Krista Mitchell, Crystal Reiki Master Teacher of Rock Whisperer NYC. “People may want to interpret them as magical, but it's just energy vibration affecting our own energy vibration.” By using different crystals, unseen energy levels can be increased, decreased, or altered to positively impact one’s emotional and spiritual life. It’s a matter of balance—the same kind of end goal sought by people who turn to meditation and feng shui to naturally encourage healing.

Which healing crystals should I buy?

The number of crystals that can be in collection is pretty much endless, and with so many pretty gems available, it’s easy to just spring for the sparkly ones. However, there is a method for growing your crystal collection from the beginning, starting with stones that bring protection. “For someone beginning, I always tell them that a protective stone is needed,” says Alana Gordon of Crystal Rock NY. “Black tourmaline is good for protection. It helps to neutralize any unwanted energy in their energetic field.” Before bringing in positive vibes, negative energy has to be distilled. From there, other crystals can be used to generate beneficial powers.

Nicole Dantzler, certified crystal healer of Sacred Healing NYC, suggests springing for something basic: “Quartz is known as the master healer and can be used for any purpose.” Michell also recommends buying crystals according to the results you wish to see in your life. “Green aventurine is a great one because it helps us to attract abundance by encouraging us to feel more deserving of good things in our lives,” she says “Amethyst helps us to feel less anxious and more resistant to negative thoughts, feelings and choices. Moonstone helps us to feel more creative and intuitive.” Other crystal choices include citrine to evoke joy and rose quartz to help love and romance flourish.

How do you care for crystals?

While some opt to wait for a full moon to clean crystals, most people choose to clean their newly acquired crystals as soon as possible, to ensure maximum effectiveness. Most stones can be washed in a salt bath (with a one tablespoon to one cup of water ratio) for 24 hours, but soluble crystals like selenite should be cleansed with smoke by burning sage around them. Susan Chu, Holistic Intuitive Advisor of One Peace Sanctuary, recommends using sunlight and moonlight to respectively clean different crystals. “Typically, all black, clear, red, orange, and yellow color stones can be placed in the sunlight, whereas white, pink, green, blue, and purple stones can be placed in the moonlight,” she says. Salt baths, smoke, and light should be used to regenerate the properties of crystals approximately once a month.

Start your collection with just one or two crystals, and be sure to take care of them—then feel the good vibes start flowing.