Musings on Energy Management
Here is some background information related to my SURRENDER™ to Passion seminars.
There are several types of energy that we have at our disposal. I call them "Daily Energy", "Core Energy", "Source Energy" and "Artificial Energy". Three of these energies tie into the concepts of the "Three Treasures" (Chi, Jing & Shen) from Traditional Chinese Medicine and have parallels in other disciplines that monitor personal energy, such as prana in ayurveda.
Daily Energy (Chi)
Chi energy is related to good food, exercise, meditation, and grounding. In biological terms, this is energy closely related to your cellular energy, your usual sugar cycles regulated by mitochondria, potassium and insulin cycles. Your Chi ebbs at the end of the day leaving you tired and ready for sleep. When you exercise, it takes time and proper nutrition for your cellular energy levels to compensate (create more mitochondria, increase cellular stores of energy ready to be used, etc.). Your body can build more capacity to change sugar into energy and to utilize oxygen in your muscles if you have a good physical exercise practice, thus you increase your capacity for Chi energy through proper exercise and nutrition. There's a great deal of mind-over-body involved in your Chi cycles as well, remaining in the moment and grounded will keep your body in a state of relaxation and deep breathing provides oxygenation that stabilizes cellular metabolism. Chi building activities is addressed best in steps 4-6 of SURRENDER™.
Core Energy (Jing)
When you are stressed, when you stay up and work late, when you work more than 38 hours a week (or so), when you are not eating or exercising sufficiently to generate the Chi needed for daily life, when you are sick and push on and work anyway, you are tapping into a different type of physical energy. People who are pushing themselves to the limit, who "work better under pressure" are depleting Jing energy on a constant basis. According to ancient Chinese medical wisdom, Jing is generated by the kidneys, and it's no coincidence that epinephrine (adrenaline) can be equated to Jing in biological terms. Epinephrine regulates our stress responses -- it gives us a huge kick of energy, allows us to think quickly, releases extra stores of energy all over the body, but at a great cost to our body's reserves of energy and nutrition. Jing is said to regulate how long you will live, your core health, your ability to be at peace. When your Jing is depleted, you are at great risk of chronic illness -- a fact that is seen in so many stress-related medical conditions such as asthma, cancer, heart disease. Jing is the equivallent of the shamanic concept of "Soul" as in "Soul-loss" (see also my article on Soul Loss). Soul loss is a common response to trauma and high levels of stress, and if one loses all of one's soul, one is susceptible to illness and loses all motivation, and it is thought that death is close. This parallel between Jing depletion and soul loss is unmistakable: if one does not get ill and die from burnout, Jing depletion or soul loss -- one loses the will to live. Jing and putting a halt to core energy depletion are best addressed in the first 3 steps of SURRENDER™.
Source Energy (Shen)
In Chinese terms, Shen is Spirit. In terms of the "three treasures" of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shen is sometimes thought to be one's personal spiritual energy, but I'd like to take that to another level, more in keeping with the use of Shen in compound Chinese terms to depict spiritual entities outside of humanity. Shen, or Source Energy, is energy that is sourced outside oneself through spiritual practice, prayer, meditation, and deep mystical passion. We tap into this energy through love, compassion, passion, divine desires, life purpose, and even through Napoleon Hill's "Mystery of Sex Transmutation" in Think and Grow Rich. This energy can be expended in lieu of Chi or Jing in the pursuit of certain spiritual activities, in the act of Sacred Activism, and in pursuit of your purpose or passion in life. In the SURRENDER™ system, we address building Shen as an alternative source of energy in steps 7-9 (Deep Gratitude & Blessings, Energize, Rewards). It is necessary to remain connected to Shen energy when following one's passion through constant spiritual practice or one may end up expending Chi and Jing in pursuit of one's goals and dreams.
The mass media and current culture would like us to think that caffeine, alcohol, uppers, illicit drugs, and other stimulants are "giving us energy" but what they're really doing is releasing precious reserves of personal energy --either Chi or Jing energy-- which leaves you in a position of either depletion or a need for a recovery period (rebound). Some such substances give us some temporary Shen energy, by giving us a brief connection with the Divine, but since those connections are formed in a chemically altered state of consciousness, they usually do not carry over to sobriety, thus part of the cause of addiction may be chasing the high of Source energy. It is possible to get to the same connections and energy without the use of chemical assistance, and doing so when chemically sober leads to more lasting connections and no risk of habituation. Some moderate and limited use of "artificial" energy sources is said to be of benefit in some traditions, such as the drinking of green tea to help restore Jing energy, but note that this use is both mindful, ritualized and moderated and by no means resembles todays caffeine consuming culture. I often joke around about Vitamin-F ("'feine") because people have come to be so dependent on their coffee and tea.
Dangers of Energy Drain
It is possible to go on for several years in a core energy depletion stage. And there are systemic effects after several years of stress on the endocrine system. Medical literature still struggles to understand the link between stress and disease, or the effects of stress on common or chronic illnesses. There's no disease or illness I've heard of that hasn't been worsened by chronic stress. So the effects of chronic stress on other bodily systems can further deplete energy, willpower, and hamper activities of daily living.
It is possible to tell whether you are utilizing core energy or daily energy in your endeavors.
When utilizing daily energy, one is relaxed, grounded, present, focused, and sleep at night comes easily and is very restful. Sleep should be normal, and one would have normal dream phases. When one awakens in the morning, one would be refreshed and ready to take care of the day's events in good spirits. One has a normal level of hunger, few cravings for anything other than healthy nutritious foods, and one's body and blood sugar levels are in balance. Energy is steady throughout the day, one eats when one is hungry, and one's weight is stable. It is relatively easy to add exercise to your regimen, but it's probably already there.
When relying on core energy to get through the day, one is nervous, worried, frantic, multitasking, unable to prioritize, and unable to focus. At night, worries about unfinished business may leave you laying awake, sleep is broken and tense, and it's as hard to wake up in the morning as it is to fall asleep at night. One or more cups of caffeine or a high-carb breakfast is needed to get moving, one may be cranky, and thinking may be sluggish for the first several hours of the day. Good nutrition is undermined by cravings for carbohydrates, and energy levels throughout the day are characterized by slumps and bursts, one frequently snacks or hits a candy bar between meals, and one's weight is either unstable or ever going up when between diet plans. It's very difficult to add exercise to your routine because you can't figure out where to fit it into your schedule between all your frantic activity.
When core energy begins to flatline, so does one's emotions. You are now lethargic, unmotivated, you sleep often, you get frequent colds or flus, you're apathetic, you frequently procrastinate tasks into oblivion. At night you fall into an exhausted dreamless stupor that doesn't seem to be restful. Coffee isn't working anymore, you're too blasé to be depressed, you can't or won't think about your problems, and if you get anything done it's without any enthusiasm, you're just going through the motions. You're probably gaining weight, but you're not sure why because you're not really even motivated to eat much -- cooking is too much trouble. Exercise is the farthest thing from your mind. You no longer feel guilty about anything because you're numbed with no energy left to feel much of anything but pain. You've hit rock bottom. People like this are very unlikely to be reading this article, but if you are and you have any willpower or energy, my best advice is to resort to gratitude and/or prayer. Seeking a shaman for soul retrieval is highly advisable, and if you have any thoughts about ending your life, seek immediate psychiatric help.
Unfortunately here in the United States, being on the road to burnout is not a classifiable mental health issue and is generally considered to be your own responsibility -- but this could change at any time and your medical plan may cover alternative therapies such as acupuncture. You also need to check whether you have an actual medical condition so seek out proper bloodwork for diabetes or other health issues -- energy levels can suffer if you're not getting sufficient oxygen levels in your blood, or if your thyroid is malfunctioning. Check with your physician before you start any exercise program. Also, if you can get assistance through your insurance providers, take advantage of it. You might have a plan that will help cover some exercise programs such as Yoga or a gym membership, which you not only need to pay for but actually attend.
In addition to medical help, you can always pray, meditate, use visualization techniques, and check with your doctor about adding alternative therapies to your regimen. In almost every case, energy work (Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Shamanic healing), body work (massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, reflexology), and spiritual counseling (life coaching, medical intuitives, spiritual counselors) are always safe when you're under proper medical care.
For more information and tips on how to replenish your energy and source your energy differently, please join my mailing list or attend one of my free informational teleseminars based on SURRENDER™ to Passion and the SURRENDER™ system. I'd be happy to answer your questions by email, too. If you're on my mailing list I'll be sending out information about upcoming workshops, free teleseminars, and more.
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