As someone who’s been obsessed with energy in all its forms for the majority of my adult life (and even in my teens!), I’ve managed to summon the energy for the Herculean feat of building a successful and ethical business. All while attachment-parenting two young boys and dealing with CPTSD. It’s fair to say that I have some hard-won perspective on how we create, sustain, spend, and drain our energy.
If I could get only one thing across to you about energy, it would be this: pay attention to it.
Seems like a no-brainer, but in our modern culture we are overarchingly disconnected from our energy state and see it as basically an on-off switch to manipulate and squeeze more productivity out of our already exhausted and overworked bodies. And that’s not just from “work-work”, but also from the implicit and explicit responsibilities of modern life, as well.
So, what is energy, anyway?
The dictionary says:
It’s not wrong, and I’d go a step further to include not just an orientation toward productivity (note the bias in the definition!), but also an orientation toward quality of life. We’re talking about the different types of energy that are available to us and the broader cycles that influence energy—including rest, a critical and often overlooked aspect.
My own personal definition of energy (inspired by a decade of study and practice in non-dual Tantrik Shaivism) is:
Quality of being
It’s simply asking the question, “What does it feel like to be me right now?”
Beneath the thoughts and emotions, there’s a quiet thrum of beingness that flows through and influences every. single. aspect of our lives. It flows through every sensation, emotion, thought, and action.
Reflecting on a few words to describe what it feels like to be us, right now, in this moment, gives us a powerful lens through which to understand and care for ourselves and steward the precious life force that flows through us.
I once had a teacher that reminded us to cultivate awareness of our energy; to have intimacy with our energy state. An easy moniker for this is…
Cultivating Energy Intimacy leads to a growing Energy Intelligence, which then, leads to Energy Integrity™ (honestly I kinda hate to ™ words but The Lawyers tell me I gotta do it sometimes, especially if there may or may not be a book coming about that thing sometime in the future 🙂🤫).
30-Second Energy Intimacy Practice
Here’s a simple practice that you can do as many times a day as you can possibly remember. Pro tip: set alarm to remind yourself!
- If you’d like support on how to describe your energy state, the gunas, or “feeling qualities” from Ayurveda offer a simple yet profound lens for this in the form of opposites. Ask yourself if you are feeling more…
That’s it! Just noticing can start to help you tune into this subtle (yet totally not subtle) aspect of ourselves.
If you’d like to go further, consider ways to bring balance to your present experience, e.g. feeling light, dry, & mobile? Try massaging your feet to ground yourself; or drinking something warm and nourishing, like broth—or Rasa! 😉
Second Attention: Ongoing Energy Intimacy Integration
One of my favorite Energy Intimacy practices is called Second Attention. If you’ve ever listened to a podcast interview of me, you’ve likely heard me mention it.
The easiest way to explain it is with an example that many of us have probably experienced. Have you ever been driving and upon arrival at your destination, you suddenly realize you were spaced out during the entire last leg of your journey because you were lost in thought?
In that situation, your thoughts became your first attention, and driving became your second attention. The act of driving didn’t completely leave your awareness—otherwise you would have likely crashed (phew… good thing we’re cultivating awareness now!) In this example, driving was your second attention and at a low-level of awareness.
You can consciously focus this “second layer of attention” on your energy state all day long, cultivating a powerful intimacy with your energy that can inform everything you do.
All it takes is…doing it! Much easier said than done. You’ll have to “remember to remember,” as one of my teachers says, over, and over, and over again. It’s like a muscle - it gets stronger the more you use it. But, you’ll probably forget, a lot (trust me!)
One of my teachers told a story about a student who was so excited about this whole “second attention” thing, professing to practice it every moment henceforth—and then left to buy a pack of cigarettes, like he always did on Tuesdays after meditation class.
The next Tuesday, he showed up to buy his usual pack of cigaroos and that triggered him to remember the concept of the second attention— which he’d totally forgotten for an entire week.
If this sounds anything like you, that’s ok! Just remember to bring your awareness back into focus and your second attention muscle will get stronger and stronger.
Tying It All Together
Cultivating intimacy with our energy allows us to become more discerning on what drains our energy and what charges us up. From what we consume (which goes beyond food and beverages and into experiences, media, and content), to our relationships, how we spend our time, and more.
Identifying energy leaks and energy sources is a critical part of Energy Integrity™ (& will be explored in the book and possibly a future blog, as well!)
Off the top of your head, what are some things that leak your energy, and what are some things that charge you back up? We’d love to hear in the comments!