Energy is a funny thing. We all think we’ve got unlimited resources of it until we hit the wall of burn-out. We’re tired for no apparent reason, we feel unmotivated and uninspired.
Everything we do takes energy, and things that take up our energy are not limited to just the obvious activities like exercising or moving around. Writing this blog post takes energy. Reading this blog post also takes energy. Checking your e-mail, responding to e-mail, reading that text, responding to that text…even thinking takes energy. There’s no difference between the physical energy that you exert when you’re running or practicing yoga and the energy that you spend doing something passive like thinking. It’s all energy and it all eventually runs out. In yoga speak, energy is prana, which means the life force flowing through you. Lately I’ve come to realize just how precious it really is and how important it is that we don’t squander away energy just like we wouldn’t squander away saved up money.
Every once in a while, when I need to unwind and let go, I do a guided yoga nidra meditation. Yoga nidra is a meditation done lying on the floor, eyes closed, body completely still as you focus your attention on the sensations in different parts of your body from the subtle to the gross. There’s also some visualization involved and towards the end, I’m asked, “Are you living your heart’s desire?”
This question always disturbs me because if I were to answer it honestly, the answer would be no. There hasn’t been enough of the things I love in my life lately. This ties in with what I’ve been saying about energy because I’ve been guilty of taking my energy reserves for granted and mindlessly investing energy into things that don’t truly bring me joy. Of course there are things that we have to invest energy into, like our jobs and our daily obligations. But what are you doing with what’s left over?
The yoga nidra meditation I follow instructs you to state your sankalpa three times at the beginning, and three times again at the end. A sankalpa is an intention that brings about a positive change in your life. And through a regular yoga nidra practice your sankalpa will eventually come true.
My most recent sankalpa is “I will remove everything in my life that does not serve me.” It means that I no longer want to invest my energy into things that do not serve me in any positive way. This includes habits, things and even people. I believe that setting your intention and being serious about it will gradually send opportunities your way and open your awareness to allow you to make choices that align with your intention. According to the article I linked to above, “sankalpa has the potential to release tremendous power by clearly defining and focusing on a chosen goal. Its effect is to awaken the willpower within by uniting the conscious awareness with the unconscious forces lying dormant.”
When you set your intention to remove things from your life that no longer serve you, you might lose some people along the way. I had a friend who recently told me in an e-mail that she has to remove herself from me while I’m going through the things I’m going through right now, because her life is finally falling into place the way she’s wanted it to and she just can’t be around “this kind” of environment. However, she does offer her quiet support from far away. While I respect her right to speak her truth, I was deeply hurt by her words. I didn’t quite realize how hurt until I found myself crying a couple of days after reading her e-mail. The force of her rejection finally broke down whatever protective walls I had around my heart and out came the tears. Later on it became clear that her friendship does not align with what I believe friendship is. And so I’ve made my decision not to re-connect with her, even once the clouds in my life have passed and things are again going well.
Energy is a precious thing, and it would do us all a lot of good to closely pay attention to how we invest it. Instead of wasting energy on things and relationships that aren’t helping us flourish, we could be investing that same energy on other things and relationships that do.
I once had a yoga teacher that said, “Transformation is painful.” I will never forget those words because of how true they are. Transformation involves giving up your attachment to what you have been all this time and inviting in a new, as-yet-unknown version of yourself. Even if what you’re giving up no longer serves you, it’s human nature to cling to what we know even if it’s not necessarily good for us. But by taking it one small step at a time — as small as you want to make it — you gradually come to know more and more about who you’re becoming, mindful of the choices you’re making, and eventually it becomes home. The journey is difficult, scary, uncomfortable and sometimes stormy. But through the process, always, always, love and be kind to yourself.