Energy and Flow — we need to accept the internal dynamics of energy, flow, stagnation, and getting caught. as we accept this as reality, we begin to see how to work through stuckness to liberation.
In This Moment
If you’re looking for some beach reading this summer, consider my books! Both are available as paperbacks, and as kindle books.
We continue to have a look at the flow of energy, and how this applies to living a life filled with depth and meaning.
So, let’s think about focus, flow and stagnation (no, not a famous law firm…)
For a few weeks now, we’ve been looking at charge and passion. The two are related, and serve similar purposes.
- Charge tends to draw us in completely, and because the energy flows so quickly, it tends to lead to a big discharge.
- Passion is more difficult to describe, as its “pull” goes on over longer periods of time — even a lifetime. Which is what’s meant by “Living your passion.” The words satisfaction, clarity, purpose, drive, and vocation come to mind. As I said, difficult.
The similarity is due to this: the different feeling energies in the body are, for all intents and purposes, the same “thing.” What varies is the intensity, the method of expression, and the source.
I’ve written about “flavours” of energy before, !! so go read the article!!.
In Chinese energy thought, stagnant energy is like a blockage in a meridian. Like a boulder in a stream. The blockage or stagnation impedes the free flow of energy.
So, why stagnation?
Well, there are biological reasons, and psychological reasons. Injury causes blockages. Getting a cold, an infection, causes a slow-down. Psychologically, things we upset ourselves over cause the energy flow to slow.
Things like fear cause us to tighten up, and impede flow. I mentioned this recently — one place we tighten is at the diaphragm, as we block the movement of energy from physical to spiritual.
A simple story.
I first went to The Haven in 1996, after having a physical breakdown. It was all about my choices.
Here’s the back story: My martial arts instructor at the time (a 23rd generation ninja) is also a Doctor of Chinese Medicine. I’d go in, often, and especially in January and April, sicker than a dog.
He’d say, “Why are you sick?”
I’d say, “There’s a flu going around.”
He’d say, “But why are YOU sick?” And then point to himself and other staff, all ridiculously healthy.
I’d say, “But… But… Hmm…”
Here’s one answer
No question–I loved the outfits
I was in the Ministry back then. Was 13 years in back in 1996. I used to pull out all the stops in Advent (December) and Lent (Feb. or March, depending on the calendar.) I mean, ALL the stops. More services, activities. Never asked for help. Then, after the holiday, I’d collapse, get sick, and haul my sorry ass in to see Sensei.
He’d shove in needles and cluck at me.
In 1996, I was REALLY beat. I finally admitted that I’d been running myself ragged. In energetic terms, I was so focussed on the job (2nd chakra) and the role (1st chakra) that I’d neglected myself. My focus was on endless doing of things that were not important.
At 45, my body finally broke. And off I went to Haven. By September, wiser minds had provided me with a messy exit from the Ministry.
None of that was necessary (or better, while a stupid choice, I made it necessary…,) and in retrospect a bit of wisdom might have made things simpler. The truth was, though, I needed to leave the Ministry, and I was resisting.
I was numb to the signals my stagnant body was sending. So, all my body could do was make me sick, and in that way kick my legs out from under me. Rather than tackle the real question (“Why are YOU sick?”) I looked at symptom removal.
Until I stopped that dumbness
I came home committed to paying attention. To meditation. To presence. To expression of emotions, and to walking a more fitting path. I learned to notice when I was getting in my own way – thereby blocking the free flow of energy.
I learned that the alternative is flow. And to step into the flow, you need to pay attention to small variances, and make endless shifts. It’s to be aware (moment-by-moment) of what’s happening, internally and externally.
Meditation is NOT about learning to relax, nor is it about stilling your mind. Meditation is about sitting still long enough to see what’s going on.
As I said last week, you see the clouds of your thought, and do not attach to them. Or, if you see that you have (you wake up, caught in a story,) and, rather than keeping it up, you have a breath and let go.
Right now, as I write this, I’m aware of a cramp and tightness in my gut.
Darbella and I have decided that July and August will be the months we decide (again!) what we’re doing next — staying put, going beck to Costa Rica, going travelling, teaching English. I’m in the middle of a few weeks of no clients, and I don’t do well with inactivity.
So, my guts are churning.
What to do? What I said I’d do. I’m talking with Dar, and planning. I’m also letting out the emotions.
However they need to come out. Being sad, grieving, being angry, whatever. And… do re-read that line.
One of my favourite clients told me she has trouble reading about expressing emotions, and sometimes thinks I’m being weak or indulgent expressing mine. She isn’t impressed with the idea of going to The Haven, either, as emotions are all over the place there. Many people fear their emotions, or think that life is supposed to be “roses.”
The way life is, is the way life is, and it’s right there, in front of you. The way you are is the way you are, internally. Once you accept that this is “so,” you can stop wishing for an alternative, and express the life you have.
Back to Meditation
True meditation is about acceptance and letting go. Our feelings, our prejudices, or thoughts — these things are us, as we live our days. Life is not only “good” feelings. To repeat, the mark of full life is having, then dropping, feelings. Being alive means the endless re-discovery of who we are, what we think, what we feel.
And then, loosening our grip on our thoughts, so that we can act.
Loosening our grip on our feelings, so they can pass through and be gone. This time.
Loosening our grip on our delusions about the right path, the right emotions, the right thoughts, and just getting on with awareness of what it means to be me.
Or, As Brad Warner (one of my favourite Zen authors) wrote in a recent blog post, entitled, “Buddhism, a Religion Based on Not Giving a Fuck?”:
It seems to me that for most people “giving a fuck” means being intensely wrapped up in your own thoughts. Buddhists don’t learn how not to worry. They learn how not to worry about being worried. It’s not that we don’t care. We care a lot. But we also see what our real role is in the things we care about.
Buddhism is not a philosophy of complacency.
There is a huge difference between accepting things as they are and being complacent or apathetic. I definitely want to change the world. I seek nothing less than to completely overthrow the current society, which is sick and depraved and headed for disaster. I give a huge fuck about that. But I’m not going to do it fast and I’m not going to do it alone. In fact, I will be dead and gone long before things change in the way I know they must.
But that’s not enough to make me simply lie back down and say, “fuck it.” I take action. But my action doesn’t seem like much. I meditate every day and I teach others how to meditate. I write. I give lectures. I devote all of my life to making the world better. But I do it in ways that probably seem small and ineffective to those who have a different definition of what “giving a fuck” ought to look like.
Presence Means Accepting and Working With “All of it”. Relentlessly.
This is not what we wish we’d have signed on for, and not what Western society promotes, but it is real, and it is what each of us face. We are a bundle of contradictions, feelings, and thoughts. If we tie ourselves in knots, and block the free expression of all of ourselves, we simply add physical damage to the mix.
Our focus, then, needs to be internal. To see, clearly, how we are reacting to our environment, and especially to our internal theatre. We need to do this internal work, moment by moment. And then, as we cut through the games and illusions we create, to act externally.
Focus is a function of action. We tear through the veils of game-playing, and return to that which deeply draws us. Beneath the games and obstructions, is a freely flowing stream of energy that each of us can become aware of.
It’s like paddling a kayak in rapids. With practice, you can “feel” the water, predict its turns and twists, and even gain enough balance to lean into it, turn and paddle upstream. And then, wisely, flip around and paddle with the flow. Avoid the rocks, the “keepers,” and learn to settle into the eddies, recoup strength, and paddle on.