Power Outage

This month’s massive power blackout on the US and Canadian east coasts illustrates how dependent we are on outside sources of energy. Cities simply shut down when there is no power. But what about when we have a power outage? Do we shut down or do we keep going and going and going, like the energizer bunny, further depleting our energy reserves? When we don’t pay attention to our energy declinations and just keep moving at a frantic pace, we start to tap into our vital energy reserves. This accelerates the process of entropy, which is the major culprit in the aging process.

For the next three months we will explore the ebb and flow of our own vital energy — how to recognize the fluctuations, being conscious of where we get “zapped”, body signals, and conservation/recharging techniques. Just as dreams can provide symbols and messages of things going on in our lives, we can also use events in the outer world as teaching tools. Using the power outage as a metaphor, I asked a few people who were there to probe how this experience had personal meaning to them:

Marilyn Pells Cyr was just leaving that day on a dreaded car trip from Vermont to North Carolina. She had reluctantly agreed to accompany a friend there to get her son settled into college, even though she had far too much unfinished paperwork at home. Due to the power outage it wound up taking them twice as long than they had anticipated — almost 20 hours!. Because there was nothing she could do but go with the flow, she allowed herself to be completely present with her old friend and wound up having a delightful time.

Eunice and James Halstead were in NYC interviewing for jobs, as they will be relocating there from Puerto Rico. Her first concern (as I’m sure most New Yorkers feared) was that it was an act of terrorism. After contacting her mother by cell phone, who tuned in to CNN and told her that it was nothing of the kind, she began to calm down.

In her own words: “James and I had been through a real “marathon” of job interviews and other social/ family events since we got to New York. By Thursday we were really exhausted and I remember thinking that I needed a break. Because there was nothing else we could do, we decided to go for a walk through the streets of Brooklyn and find out how other people were managing the situation. To our surprise, to the people around–it was like a festival. A moment when there was nothing to do, nothing they could do, and so it was the perfect moment to relax, have a beer and celebrate this unexpected ‘holiday’. It was as if the collective consciousness of the residents of New York were asking for a ‘break’ to relax. It is interesting how one’s background and perspective can play a large part in assigning a meaning to what is happening in your environment.”

On the matter of energy…

It seems natural to us to think of the word “energy” as applying to material things, such as machines, industrial plants and your electric bill. But why do we have such a hard time associating energy with what keeps us in motion? Think about it — you have no batteries; you are not wound up each morning by a big key protruding from your back; and you are not plugged into an electrical socket overnight to recharge you. So there must be something invisible that keeps you animated. On a daily basis your primary energy source comes from the burning of sugar in your body that jumpstarts your metabolism. You also possess a vital and subtle life force that is what defines “being alive.” This life force is not limited to humans. The Hindus refer to this subtle energy as prana; for the Chinese it is chi, and to the Japanese it is ki. Harnessing this energy is the foundation of many of the yogic and martial arts practices.

Mainly the prejudice of the term “energy” when applied to humans comes from the Newtonian paradigm of science, which has been long refuted but still maintains a stronghold in the collective conscious. According to Newtonian physics, matter and energy are mutually exclusive. In other words, their qualities are separate, distinct, and non-interchangeable.

Quantum physics has now proven that matter and energy are one and the same: They are interchangeable and interconvertible. (Deepak Chopra, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Harmony Books, 1993) At the particle level all matter is energy. YOU are energy — the chair you are sitting in as you read this article, is energy — the distinguishing element is the vibrational rate of the molecules. (Naturally, we vibrate at a much faster rate than furniture!)

Just as a power grid can become overburdened and malfunction, so can you. You derive energy from both internal and external sources, but if your energy level is not serviced and maintained, you are also vulnerable to power outages. If you are operating at low energy reserves and do not know how to replenish, it is difficult to function effectively in your role as parent, partner, productive person, let alone have the impetus to make a creative contribution to the world. It is how you handle these cycles of depletion-restoration that determine how your body ages. Learn to interpret the signals your body sends and to take those much-needed breaks.

Oh, what a tangled web…

A few days ago my boyfriend walked into my home office and expressed concern about what a snarled mess my surge protector had become. There were cords wound all around each other and it was taking up a sizable part of the floor space. While his concern was more about how our adventurous 9-month old puppy might electrocute himself, it galvanized me to spend a few minutes untangling the mess. I found that the entire unit could be relocated, giving me a lot more space to move around. At the same time I got the message that my own internal power structure was rather confused and unruly. Just taking those extra 10 minutes gave me a inner and outer space-clearing and seemed to unravel my thinking process.

Take a look at your own space this month and see how the flow of your own vital energy can be liberated by getting rid of clutter and untangling any electrical cord snafus.

Tuning In: A Body Awareness Exercise

According to Dr. Richard Gerber, in his groundbreaking book Vibrational Medicine, the physical body is actually a complex network of interwoven energy fields. These unique energy systems are powerfully affected by our emotions and level of spiritual balance as well as by nutritional and environmental factors.

Let’s use the metaphor of power grids for these energy fields in the body, since this phrase has come up so frequently over the past few weeks.

Find a comfortable position, either sitting down or lying down, where you can be uninterrupted for at least 10 minutes. Start by doing your 5-breath.

Start to pay attention to what your body is feeling and experiencing. Is there a particular grid that seems to be shut down, low on energy, numb, uncomfortable or tingling? What is your overall energy level on a scale of 1-10?

If you want to recharge those depleted areas, focus on the center of your body, called the solar plexus (below the diaphragm and above the navel). Imagine a bright yellow-orange ball of light, like an internal sun. Intentionally direct the rays or balls of energy to those areas as you continue to breathe deeply and gently. Take a few moments to allow those parts of your body to recharge before you end this exercise.

Next month we will experiment with a fascinating visual tool to grasp how rapidly our daily supply of energy evaporates.

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