By Sharmila Bhosale
Our life force is the source of our energy, vitality, enthusiasm and health. What stops it from manifesting fully, and how can we live unfettered and free?
Pause for a moment and recapture how you felt when you were passionately involved with something – a book, a game, creating a piece of art, or even being in love. You felt intensely elated, brimming with joy and charged with energy. That intense burst of energy which coursed through your very being, can be termed the life force, the presence of which determines the quality of your life.
We have all met people who have seemed blessed with an abundance of this energy. They not only have time for numerous activities, but also breeze through them all. Even in adversity, they never lose their equilibrium or their equanimity. When you meet them, you feel positive, vibrant, as if some surge of energy has brushed off on to you. And there are those of us who crumble into a miserable heap with each vicissitude and snap at every little problem, from someone overtaking us on the road, to the maid not turning up for work.
In his landmark book, The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield talks about how the entire universe is actually a large and dynamic energy field, and everything that occurs on this conscious plane is an energy exchange.
We draw continuously from this magnificent and all-pervasive source and at any given point in time, we ourselves are a conduit to this vast energy field. When we open ourselves to it, this life force floods us with passion, enthusiasm, and love, and connects us to the very source. We are one with it. There is surrender as well as release. It opens the floodgates of creativity and happiness.
What hinders and stems this flow of energy within each of us are the psychological blocks and emotional barriers that we erect, largely as a part of our upbringing. Our attitudes and belief systems come in the way of experiencing this life force to its fullest.
As Rumi, the peerless Sufi poet puts it: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Each one of us has the potential to lead productive, energetic and fulfilling lives, if only we allow this life force to flow freely through us, without creating mental obstacles or blocks.
The power of chi
The Chinese call this vital force chi or ki, while the Hindus call it prana. The knowledge that our bodies are filled with life force energy and that this is directly connected to the quality of our health, has been part of the wisdom of many cultures for thousands of years, and has resulted in the development of many different forms of energy medicine.
Interestingly, the amount of chi or life force in our bodies is not constant and keeps fluctuating. “Resistance to change, in almost all areas of my life, bogged me down. I used to feel listless and lethargic, prone to anger outbursts and sullen moods,” says Mitali Mukherjee, college lecturer and mother of a teenage daughter, who has been working on her ‘low-energy phases’ for several years now. What gave her insight into her persistent down spells was meditation. “I started practising Transcendental Meditation (TM) five years ago, and it took me deep within myself. I started introspecting, questioning my thoughts and beliefs. It is a long and hard journey, but I feel much more in control of my feelings now. As a result, I find I have a lot of energy – I don’t feel as wound up and coiled as I used to.” She admits her journey has just begun but already she has sensed a glimpse of the breakthroughs that she can unleash once she unblocks her energy centres.
“Learning to forgive has opened up a whole lot of energy for me,” says Neetu Ghia, who was holding on to the immense resentment that she felt when her husband walked out on her and her seven-year-old daughter, two years ago. “I also learnt how to catch on to any negative thought that arose in my mind, watching how it drained my energy and how it affected the quality of my next thought. I have now gotten into the habit of monitoring my thoughts this way, nipping any adverse thought that crops up immediately, and replacing it with a more upbeat one.” Admittedly it wasn’t an easy task, since she had to go through a lot of ‘inner cleansing’. Intensive psychotherapy has brought to the fore her role in the situation, and has helped accept this responsibility and deal with it. “I was holding on to a lot of emotional baggage and the blame game meant that I was forever stuck in the victim mode. This is a really draining mode, as I was besieged with self-pity, a poor-me self-image, which spiralled into low confidence and self-esteem levels.”
Life force blockers
Hoarding of any kind, whether of material things or emotions, clutters up the space through which energy can otherwise flow. If you accumulate things out of a sense of insecurity, or hold on to feelings that serve you no purpose other than to bog you down, you are effectively reducing your life force. You are getting locked into a position that offers no respite or any progress.
Another potential block to the free flow of life force is lack of self-acceptance. Accepting the self, without judgement and with love, is the basis of self-esteem. Difficult as it may be to do, accepting yourself exactly as you are at the moment is the most fundamental tool at your fingertips to enable you to move into an expanded and energised space of self-confidence.
“I was a lot of things to many people, but I didn’t know who I was to myself,”confesses Meera, who flits between being a dancer, painter, mother, wife, and a professional architect. She struggled with her sense of self, confused about which career path to take, unable to reconcile the several conflicting themes central to her life. This struggle to discover her true self robbed her of the pleasure of the very things that she loved to immerse herself in. Finding and feeling comfortable about our identity is a crucial aspect of being in touch with the life force that centres us. Clarifying your identity, those unique characteristics that unfold your true self, can give you a fresh lease of life, no matter how old you are and no matter what you have or haven’t accomplished.
Much of our vital force is also depleted by the ‘masks’ that we wear – it takes energy and concentration to present an image that is different from who you are to the outside world.
“The moment I stepped out of the home, I would don a variety of masks that I thought would make people ‘like’ me more. I was ‘needy’ for respect, wanted people to see me in a good light, and always had a psychological face to be put forward in order to get me that,” says Vikram Deshpande, who admits to feeling irritable and negative at the end of each day. “It was as if someone had put a load on my mental being, and it came to a point when I didn’t know who I was anymore.” A rude wakeup call in the form of a spinal problem, forced him to recognise that this wasn’t a life he was enjoying, or even a life where he was playing his own role. “But the real hard work started from there onwards. I had to uncover hard and often unpalatable truths about why I was using those masks in the first place. I had to face – and confront – my inner demons.”
People wear emotional masks for a variety of reasons – to shield themselves from being wounded by others, or to protect their emotional territory from invasion and assault. They use the social mask to intimidate, mystify, and prevent others from getting too close. Their mask keeps others asking, “Who is this person? Does she mean me harm or good?”
“I realised,” says Deshpande, “that constantly donning a false mask is a cowardly, and ultimately an energy-draining attempt at dealing with your fears. Instead of confronting them directly, you wall them off inside your true self, while allowing your alter ego to navigate the world. The mask acts as the buffer between you and others. This way people don’t insult or reject you, they don’t let you down, they simply deal with your false front while you’re hiding in the back.” In effect, people can’t touch the real you. The mask puts distance between you and the world and allows you to spurn personal responsibility for your actions and words.
This too is a manifestation of poor self-esteem and the resolution to that will require deep inner work. Louise L. Hay offers many techniques to help boost self-esteem. These include mirror work where you stand in front of your mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself. You could also repeat affirmations to yourself that centre on loving and forgiving yourself. Remember that we are part of the Creator and therefore whole and perfect. You just have to eliminate anything that stops you from recognising that.
|Never too old to love life!|
A person’s posture remarkably gives clues to his or her levels of energy. An upright back, sparkling curious eyes, avid smile and arched shoulders nearly always accompany those with high levels of psychic energy. You can feel their positive vibes as you enter their energy field; you end up being revitalised and recharged. Drooping shoulders, listless eyes, a forced smile, and a stooping posture, on the other hand, almost always indicate ebbing energy levels.
An unrestricted life force makes us givers – generous with our time, efforts, trust, possessions, talents and love. We extend ourselves – to help, to make another happy, to spread cheer. A sapped life force makes us takers – emotionally dependent, stingy with our resources and miserly with our trust. We tend to siphon away the energy of even those we meet to compensate for the lack of our own.
A low life force also gives rise to health issues since this vital energy is responsible for good health and balances the body. The absorption of prana happens in many different ways, but breathing is the main source. Improper and superficial breathing drains the energy and causes health afflictions. When this is sustained over a prolonged period, illnesses begin to manifest in the body. All diseases and health problems can ultimately be traced to improper breathing and blockage of energy channels.
In his path-breaking book, The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck talks of the connect between our emotions and feelings and our spiritual life. The energy that orders or disorders our emotional self is the energy that contributes to our spiritual growth. People who nurture their spiritual lives are more open to the life force, renewing their selves, regrouping their life strategies and reassessing their thoughts to open up channels that allow more of the life force in. They work on themselves with unrelenting honesty. “It is in the process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguish failure and success. Problems call forth our courage and wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually,” says Peck.
In the moment
Living in the moment is an energy-freeing experience that has few rivals. Observe the maids who come in to cook, clean, scrub, wash, dust and mop our houses day in and out. They tackle the work of so many households even as their homes are beset with financial and social problems. But they don’t skip a beat as they go about their work. My maid, Indu, whose house is made with a few poles and a plastic sheet that serves as the roof, has her home demolished every few months. She rushes out and is back the next day, having slept out in the open under the stars, all her family’s belongings left in the open without any security, with a smile on her lips recounting the horrors of the night before. She then goes about her work as if nothing out of the ordinary has occurred. The reason I discovered was her ability and resilience to live completely in the moment. She doesn’t hanker after things that were lost, or about how she is going to go about building her house again. She lets go of the past as easily as she leaves the worries about the future. She simply slips into the present – her entire being and energy is concentrated in the now.
The purest example of life force in unbridled action is a child. Unencumbered by the past or labels, unrestricted by the opinions of others or the worries of tomorrow, a child at play is a child brimming with life force. Children are so completely transparent, completely rooted to the present moment and so completely in charge of their actions.
Energy or life force is ultimately a dynamic entity, a free flowing source, the origin of life itself. Stem it and it stops. Prevent its flow and it gets blocked. But release it and go with its flow, and a miraculous, life-affirming energy touches and transforms your consciousness. You become life itself.
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James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy offers riveting insights into how we human beings use ingenious ways to steal energy from each other, until we learn to connect to the true source of energy – the universe. Some of the key insights are:
• The basic stuff of the universe, at its core, is a kind of pure energy that is malleable to human intention and expectation in a way that defies our old mechanistic model of the universe
• Humans must learn to gain energy from the universal source, not other humans.
• Everyone manipulates for energy either aggressively, by directly forcing people to pay attention to them, or passively by playing on people’s sympathy or curiosity to gain attention. Aggressive styles include the interrogator and the intimidator. While passive styles include the aloof and the poor-me persona.
• People use more than one drama in different circumstances, but most of us have one dominant control drama that we tend to repeat, depending on which one worked well for us within our family. A person goes to whatever extreme necessary to get attention/energy from his/her family.