Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time in hospital wards and waiting rooms. There was something one of the doctors said that reminded me of a murder drama I saw a while back. Can’t remember which one sadly. Anyway, the murderer said something along the lines of being able to see in his victim’s eyes when they “gave up” and stopped fighting death.
It is possible to see death in ill patients, but I was surprised to see something similar in the face of a “well” person which got me speculating about whether you can die while you are still alive.
Eastern religions have a concept of life energy; Hindus call it prana, and the Chinese qi (ch’i). Some Western philosophical traditions call it élan vital, or vital force. It’s not the sort of energy that animates ghostly phenomena, but the sort of energy that marks the difference between animate and inanimate matter. Not a soul as such, because it’s not identifiably you, but perhaps the divine spark that powers you. Something like, but not like Iron Man’s Arc Reactor.
People with strong life energies are fully alive and present, while those who have weak life energies are tired and slow. It makes sense that increasing your life energy has physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits while decreasing it is detrimental.
How do You Foster Your Life Energy?
I’m glad you asked. But first, you have to Feel the Force.
Sorry, couldn’t help it.
First, you have to feel it, because like other things in life, you can’t change what you can’t see. Some people claim to see auras, (or energy fields) thought to correspond to the life energy. Seemingly that’s quite difficult, and it’s easier to learn to feel it – usually a warm tingly feeling in the hands. Here’s how to create an energy ball (video autostarts).
Once you can feel it, you can learn to move it, but the main thing is to do that consistently. Consistency leads to habits that leave no place for stagnant energy to accumulate and block the flow of your life energy.
Each time you get stressed, your breathing becomes faster and shallower as you prepare to fight or flee. If you’re having a particularly stressful day your breathing may not normalise – just get even faster and shallower.
If you notice this, you can take a long deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before letting it go and dropping your shoulders to release the tension.
Or you can start a meditation practice to build your resilience and ability to deal with stress as it comes up. Sounds complicated, but all you need to do is sit quietly and breathe in and out slowly, focussing on the sensations in your body. You will start thinking of other things, and when you do, you simply shift your focus back to your breath. You’ll need to start small, say 60 seconds, but over time you’ll be able to achieve 20 minutes at a time!
Here’s a short guided meditation from the Mindful Awareness Research Centre (there’s a written introduction before you click play).
Laughter yoga is thought to break up low vibrations and thought patterns, lifting you into a higher brighter place. It doesn’t have to be yoga, any laughter that comes from a kind and loving space will work. Not the kind of laughter that comes from making fun of other people – that makes you and them feel worse, because love is the core of life energy.
And if there are people, tv, or radio shows that are disrespectful and demanding, let them go. Don’t let the energy vampires steal your life energy for themselves.
Eastern exercise regimes like tai chi and yoga were developed to remove energy blockages as well as generate and balance life energy. Ideally, you’ll practice them every day to prevent blockages from forming in the first place.
These practices are also useful ways to take you out of your mind and bring you back inside your body. Instead of taking a painkiller for your headache, ask yourself what the pain is trying to tell you.
Choose “high vibration” foods that retain the energies of the sun and the earth, such as fresh organic vegetables. Try to avoid what Michael Pollan calls “edible food-like substances” – the things your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food. The ones made of lots of chemicals with names you can’t pronounce that come from factories.
Perhaps most importantly, have compassion for yourself and others. Treating yourself well sets a firm foundation for treating others well. As you willingly share your life energy, the divine being you believe in will return it to you.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that these five things also fall under the banner of a Worthwhile Life. They’re certainly things that have made it onto my Virtues list, though not always in the same guise.
I think there’s something in that for us all – what do you think?