I find that a lot of animals and children tend to be more psychically in-tune with their surroundings because they don't have society telling them (yet for children) that what they're experiencing is not real. So in essence, I try to get people to re-learn what they already know instead of teaching them something entirely new when it comes to energy sensing and direction.
Everyone's beliefs are different and I encourage people to develop your own understanding of how things work (even if that means you have an understanding of an existing one). To start people out, I talk about the cosmology I was introduced with. Exposure often leads to curiosity and further research.
Physical - Bound by the laws of science, this is where our waking consciousness resides most of the time. Magic and other spiritual matters do not directly change this plane but can influence it.
Examples of Typical Work - Science, medicinal herbalism, altar building, physical expressions of various traditions.
Etheric = The densest of the subtle planes, many of the realms and other places tend to be tied to physical places. Energy work here is typically harder to do if you're not used to it.
Examples of Typical Work - Remote viewing, projection to physical places, a more direct influence of the physical plane (without actually changing it directly: an example is Sillieh's Soul Sprig work), and a portion of deep trances such as mediumship.
Astral = Considered a cosmic plane, energy work, in my belief, is mostly done here by most people as it is less dense and easier to work with. Realms and other locations in this plane aren't typically associated with physical places.
Examples of Typical Work - Pathwalking/projection to realms not tied to the physical, magical work to create influence various situations, higher self-work, communication with spirits, and various other things.
Some things to keep in mind with this paradigm are concepts like subtle body theory (where we exist in all planes at once) and that each plane is a template for the one next to it (As Above, So Below/Sympathetic magic best explains this as actions in one plane reflect actions in another. This is why we don't need to consciously sense and direct energy to perform our spiritual and magical practices.
When it comes to physical sensation, our sensors fire off information through our nerves to our brain to process and then that is sent back to the original sensors for us to finally consciously know we felt/heard/saw/etc. something. I find that similar is true for sensing energy, so let me explain something;
Our conscious mind is very linear and analytical, so it does not process energy very well on its own. I find that our subconscious processes the energy we sense with our subtle bodies in a way that our conscious minds can understand better. This tends to be why we can better understand energy while in altered states of consciousness (meditation, trance, etc.).
With this in mind, there are two things that I like to remind people to think about when sensing energy: impression and intuition. Going back to the comment about building upon what people already know, I want people to think of a time where they felt there was something "more" like they were not alone or if they had a strong feeling that they should do something and it turned out to be beneficial.
Recognizing that sensation can manifest in any form, people can differentiate between it and mundane sensations by paying attention to their intuition. Everything will have a physical explanation, but if you pay attention to your instincts, you'll most likely develop a stronger sense of energy.
I think it is also important to note that I had troubles sensing energy when I had expectations of what it should feel like. I concentrated and focused too hard, which developed a mental block that I had to overcome. Once I recognized how the sensation of energy felt like to me, it was a lot easier to sense other kinds of energy and further the distinctions in my own mind and thus, my understanding.
To recognize energy on a grander scale, I (and plenty others) like to talk about how everything is connected. I like to get people to try sitting outside and sway a little bit. Recognize that every physical thing and person has a spiritual aspect as well. I then tell them to pay attention to what they feel when they are recognizing this connection. Spend some time getting to recognize the flow of things as said before, it is different for everyone. It is important (to me, at least) to recognize the flow of energy and when someone connects to something larger than themselves, I feel it helps them realize their subtle body more.
The most basic form of shaping energy (in my opinion) is an evocation, where one calls up energy outside of the self. Just as the subconscious uses sensations to help us better understand energy consciously, we can use sensations to call up energy. Most often, this is called visualization, but I find it extends to more than just visual sensations (and we'll get that more later). For example, to call up the energy of fire, one can recall the sensation of being around fire. The warmth, the scent, the colors, the feeling fire made a person feel. All that is used to bring up the energy again.
When working with energy, we can utilize different sensations to help direct the flow of energy. It is important for beginners in occultism to realize that anything we do with subtle energy alters the flow of the stream, rather than builds a dam to stop it, so to speak. This means that that, while we have the power/ability to affect change in our lives, we are not the only ones to do so. Literally everything in existence shapes existence.
Examples of shaping internal energy often show up a lot in martial arts. Expanding on the "experiencing energy larger than yourself" concept, one can learn to direct the flow of energy of their subtle bodies (which may not be the same shape as their physical body) and a common exercise to do this is by utilizing the image of a tree. The subtle body is used as the trunk of a tree; the practitioner then reaches to the core with "roots" and to the cosmos with "branches" and then directs energy flowing from the roots, into the branches, and back down to the roots in a constant, ovular fashion.
Etheric Energy Work - Subtle body exercises that deal with aiding the physical body is one form of etheric work. For example; when one heals the subtle body to reflect in aiding the spiritual body. Another form is to curse another person by affecting their subtle body. To my knowledge, malicious Seidhr falls under this form.
Astral Energy Work - Shielding is a common form, even if not everyone uses it. There are many ways to shield, but the most basic form is to recall a feeling where one feels like they cannot be touched. It is this safe haven formulates a "barrier" of negative or unwanted energies. While it can be adapted to etheric energy work, most people do not (as again, I feel that most people that I've observed in the occult communities actually work more with astral energy work on a conscious level.