Energy is Potential.
For the purpose of this blog post, this is the overarching definition that I’ll be working under. Physical and metaphysical, whether it’s the energy of the life force, the energies of physics which bind the entire universe together and govern its laws, or the energies of our individual capacities – energy is potential. And it can be augmented, and it can be drained.
The whole truth and nothing but the truth, in a nutshell. A strong protective, nutshell, that guards that truth at the core. Covers it. Blesses it. Keeps it sacrosanct and impervious. And that ‘truth’, at the center of that adamantium armor that protects it, is called Freedom. It is what you are, at your core. But sometimes that armor gets chipped away, when you forget yourself, and abdicate your personal authority in any number of ways. Don’t abdicate your authority. Period. The ego is not autonomous. It is an automaton at the beck and call of a conscious operator. At this moment, that is not you.
But it is you! Actually. Or it can be. It should be! It’s your birthright. Your name is freedom. That’s your Nature given name, before this other name that everybody calls you – a label of love bestowed upon you by your parents who loved you so dearly that they wanted to identify you as that forever. And now you’ve identified yourself as that. Not to mention the countless other things you’re identifying yourself with. Do you see where this is going? It’s on you.
Spiritual Practice and Psychology are Different. They’re different. In the world of alternative spirituality, psychology is a big interest – especially self-help, pop-psychology, but also mainstream Jungian or otherwise academic, peer-reviewed psychology.
And there’s quite a bit of tendency, to measure the validity of traditional, ‘, energetic or wisdom’ teachings’, whether we’re talking about the approach to spiritual fitness taken by the ancient stoics and philosophers of Greece, or India or Mesopotamia, to measure (the validity of these teachings) against modern cognitive or neuro sciences, even though these sciences are as yet relatively young, in the greater scheme, in other words, in the light of time-honored wisdom teachings like Qabalah or Dao or Tantra.
A great example is the confabulation of the word ‘ego’, least often used in the modern Jungian sense, and almost never used in the sense of the wisdom teachings, but most often conflated with some negative overtone as some completely autonomous function of being that completely takes over conscious volition, overthrowing the self and creating havoc in the life – such misidentification with terminology and half-baked approaches to understanding and the tendency to live an entire life based on such confabulations is, in fact, one huge energy leak.
The traditional approaches to self-exploration aren’t always aligned with the modern, and here’s where confusion often reigns. For instance, when the wisdom traditions tell us of an essence nature, or a true self, they’re not referencing a subtle layer of psychology – psychology itself is merely the mapping of the surface mind, even as it extends to deeper layers called a sub or unconscious mind. It’s still only dealing with a mind. And the wisdom traditions don’t really deal with that very much.
A good example would be to look at this subject in terms of the Tarot cards as they’re juxtaposed onto the Qabalistic Tree of Life. In that system, only the 7s-9s are dealing with the mind – the whole mind – the emotion, the imagination, the cognition – everything. It’s only a fraction of the self. But it’s the fraction that’s most prone to the leakage, too. And perhaps that’s why the modern sciences seek to address it in terms of healing and consistent health.
The wisdom traditions, not only deal with the entirety of self, but more to point, with the freeing of the self from the confines of mind-induced story lines which keep it in bondage, by far the most insidious source of energy leakage to afflict a human being. And it’s the imagery used by the various systems, the tree of the Kabbalist, the deities of the Tantrik arts, the Yogic energy sheaths, the hexagrams of the I Ching, or even the Akasha itself, which are the primary mechanisms for sealing this leakage and that’s why we engage with them in our practices, whether on the meditative field or through ritual attention in our waking moment to moment.
We over-write our commonly constructed identities, or the identities created subconsciously through educational indoctrination or the chronic habituation of attachment to beliefs, social conditioning and bias – we over-write all of this with new and more powerful information in the form of this symbolism, literally reshaping ourselves at a quantum level, and freeing ourselves from the identity we’ve been constructing for ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly.
A big problem comes when someone begins to experience a ‘shift’ away from a previously held identification, into a new perspective, without any roadmap or anchor – such is the constant confusion you read about on social media, or perhaps you yourself have experienced in one form or another. A dream, an epiphany and awakening has jarred you from your object orientation and shaken the firmament of your identity and you’ve no model to resort to. The energy leaks and leaks and it’s all you can do to hold it together moment to moment. There’s no anchor to hold your ship steady on the ocean of life and drift about, sometimes falling into depression as the mind doesn’t know what to do with itself anymore. Surety has been lost.
•But through the various engagements with broader, more refined self-identifications, you can learn to skillfully replace one storyline with another, empowering yourself with a much more enabling storyline, until such time as you are ready to relinquish all storylines altogether and abide simply in your essence nature, still and reposed. Tranquil. Quiescent.
Sealing your leaks skillfully so that your energy doesn’t get lost in the unconscious habituation that so often defines this leakage, doesn’t mean that life is suddenly perfect and that suddenly you don’t have any stress or frustrations or concerns, but in terms of quality of life, if you have a sense of wellbeing, what do your relationships look like overall. What does it feel like when you wake up in the morning? When challenges come along, how do you roll, or flow? Sealing a leak doesn’t mean you don’t get stuck. It means you don’t stay there.
A solid energy field means you’re emotionally fit. You’re physically and mentally fit. You’re in a state of readiness and resilience and resourcefulness, as opposed to emotionally or intellectually ‘intelligent’.
Intelligence is great. I know many of us are quite proud of our intelligence and our ability to cogitate and intellectualize. We give props to our most cerebral tendencies. But intelligence is nothing if it’s not actionable, right? If you can’t act on what you know and put it to use. That’s why ‘fitness’ is better, because when you’re fit, you’re ready. Your muscles are ready to be used, to be put into action, to be expressed for a purpose.
Mental wellbeing is a state of being where you’re able to enjoy your life. You’re able to find meaning in your life, learn from your challenges, and nothing ever drops you completely out of the game. When you fall, you pick yourself up again. That’s what being fit means. Balance. The ability to go with the flow and roll with the punches.
And now you might be tempted to takeaway from this brief engagement with me today, the new and totally valid technology of, what we call in the mystery traditions, the technique of donning the god form. You might approach your meditation, your ritual circle or your altar, and invoke that character or deity you align with most and wear it in lieu of your own name. And you might even make it a part of you and let it take you over. Be aware. Because if you don’t let go of that form at some point, too, you also run the very real risk of succumbing to, what’s called in the Buddhist, or Tantrik tradition, God Realm Delusion…
…as you’ve undoubtedly seen countless times in your interactions with people who are so completely wrapped up in their ascensions, their kundalini awakenings, their enlightenment, or associations with divine thinking that have somehow elevated them above the common humanity; these people are possessed of a special connection with a so-called higher self or higher vibration than the rest of humanity.
But it is this disassociation with your utter normalcy that is not only a common energy leak in itself, but a pernicious one. Like a drug, a stimulant, this particular identification gives you such a high, but that high is not sustainable, because it is actually cutting you off from the reality of your true freedom, and the perfectly stainless ground of being, which is, in fact, neither higher nor lower than anybody else.
The path of life, and self-knowledge, is strewn with pitfalls, not the least of which is the temptation of the God Realm, but there are detours into the other realms as well. There’s an animal realm, a hungry ghost realm. There’s even a hell realm. And it’s the spiritual seeker in particular that, sooner or later, touches into these realms, consciously or unconsciously. Fortunately, if you’re blessed with good guidance, then you needn’t stay in any these realms for very long though.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, it’s the human realm in which most people reside, and in which most people will continue to reside while they work out their karma. And fortunately, working with energy leaks from within the human realm is not a difficult thing to do. Providing you are mindful of how the leaks occur and what you can do to seal them up. In the yogic tradition, it’s said that if a practitioner has too many ‘energy leaks’ then the spiritual energy generated through your practice will simply leak away.
Consider your past experience. Have you ever had a great meditation session, or attended an inspiring workshop or retreat that was powerful and life-altering in the moment, only to find within days that all that extra juice had just disappeared, returning you to your default state before the practice? It’s a common experience. That’s energy leakage.
So let’s identify some of the main energy leaks so that you might start setting about sealing them, and thereby also begin to retain more of the power, energy, prana or awareness generated by your practice. Now, systematically and methodically addressing these ‘leaks’ takes time, but there’s no other effort that pays higher long-term dividends.
According to Śākta-Śaiva teacher Dharmabodhi (Kol Martens) several prominent energy leaks should be addressed vigilantly. The first is one I personally refer to often at the outset of spiritual practice. It’s exhaustion.
(1) Exhaustion. Once I name it it’s obvious, right? An exhausted body-mind is riddled with holes out of which your energy drains away. Your plate is quite simply too full and you’re pushing yourself way too hard. The body-mind can’t keep up and you’re stuck in a cycle of artificially propping it up with injections of adrenaline via caffeine or sheer will-power. But in truth, you’re exhausted.
And the energy body knows. And it will not hold the power that it might otherwise if it were refreshed consistently. You might think you’re making steady gains in your practice, or your life in general, but consider what kind of gains you might be making if you weren’t over-taxed and over-stimulated. A gentle trickle of water, consistently over time, has more power to shape a mountain than inconsistent deluges.
(2) Dis-ease of the physical body, not to be confused with dis-ability, because when the body is weakened through debilitation it will immediately begin to focus on regeneration. It will try to heal itself, drawing power from the energy body, from the life force. It will focus on itself, and take your focus with it.
Dis-ability, on the other hand, is often a done deal, requiring no particular focus at repair. Quite the contrary, oftentimes energy is redirected towards augmenting and strengthening what remains. Disability doesn’t necessarily indicate an energy leak, whereas disease most certainly does. It’s also intimately connected to Exhaustion and often a result, as the immune system is one of the first things to suffer once chronic exhaustion has set in.
(3) Excess emotional reactivity: When our presence of mind has been stripped away by constant reactive habituation, we have become the prey for our very own minds. We are unable to be in the moment and find ourselves swayed by every errant thought and emotion. And yet, it’s not the emotion that’s at issue, nor even the strength of the emotion. It’s not the quality or type of emotion, but rather the over-attachment to any and every emotion – the loss of presence and the ability to witness what, in fact, you may be feeling or thinking at any given moment.
To make matters worse, the assigning of story lines to the emotion, the need to hold on and be right about whatever we happen to be thinking or feeling, tends to augment those emotions even more, making what is a normal human experience into an exaggerated house of mirrors.
And the habituation of reactivity leads to a (4) “Lack of Presence” overall. Not only do we lose sight of our own thoughts and feelings, but sometimes over our body’s, and then our environment and circumstance. This leaking of mindfulness, of presence, will extend into our relationships and careers as we’re no longer able to clearly and objectively see reality as it is, but have become habituated to creating stories about reality that may, in fact, have nothing to do with reality at all. We’ve succumbed to fantasy. Neurosis. This is different from imagination and the intentional employing of our capacities and faculties.
However, as opposed to the imagination that a writer or an artist or even an urban planner, or even a couple on date might employ, there are types of imagination that are unhealthy symptoms of this lack of presence, and they include fantastic imaginings of a future not in alignment with the possible, or anxiety over a future of imagined suffering. And reverie, or the tendency to reinvent the past through rose-colored glasses, and guilt or regret – the focus on past mistakes and what might’ve been. Just saying it aloud, one can almost feel right here and now how such focuses would be utterly draining.
(5) Belief & Opinion that is inflexible. Over-attachment to a storyline. I am immovable, not out of a stoics conviction and determination, but out of blind adherence to anything that I consider to be the truth. My truth. And this one can be hard to acknowledge for several reasons. One, because we need an intentional storyline in order to make our way through a life of active engagement, and two the popular idea that to walk in one’s truth is the epitome of authenticity.
But this one is also difficult because it’s not a very easy question to address, this question of what, in fact, do I really know, versus what do I believe. One key difference between the two is that what you know will empower you, but what you believe could go either way. Another is evidence. Easy to find for knowledge, not so easy for belief. But in any event, the freedom found in the acknowledgement and ownership of a solid discernment between the two, is absolutely liberating.
(6) Unclear relationships & boundaries, as in being in a relationship and not knowing what to expect, undefined expectations, lack of agreement, values conflict, lack of or parallel communication, use and abuse – all of these drain the life force right out of you. Sometimes communication is the key to get things on track, when that communication can be done right. Sometimes it’s just time to let go, because one of the biggest drains of our energy is trying to hold on to a relationship that is way past its due date.
(7) Unconscious/Excessive Speech How much energy do we lose to uncontrolled speech, either through creating unintended outcomes, exhausting ourselves just trying to keep up with ourselves, or as Ayurveda would term it, through the chronic stimulation of intellection processes responsible for increasing what’s known as the ‘vata’ dosha, or the airy aspect of our natures. Over-thinking and excessive use of uncontrolled language is a sure way to dry our wells. Also why it’s good to be aware of what words you let into your ears – to settle on your mind. Yet another reason why yogis and monks of the wisdom traditions will repose in silence far more often than they will be found in discourse.
But when they are found in discourse, the approach to the use of language will be skillful. In such traditions it is common to inquire of ourselves before engaging in any discourse, whether or not the language to come is true – this thing I want to say, and whether it will be helpful; whether it’s necessary to speak; if it’s the right time, and whether it can be delivered in a loving way. This method of delivering language is one of the disciplines of yoga.
So, of course, this leads us to the question of the big HOW. How do we seal the leaks. And as you might imagine the answers are varied and conditional upon where you are on your journey. What’s leaking and why. Deep conversations and penetrating analysis is required to get at the heart of your specific needs, but I’ve given you some clues on where to start, and included some helpful links at the end of (the viewer’s file that I will just attach right here) to some of my programs and meditations and future practical workshop information (because a workshop on any one of these leaks can take a couple of hours) and I welcome you to reach out to me to work with you further and give you some guidance in your approach.
There are many more sources of energy leakage besides what I’ve talked about today. These include addictions, including the chronic misuse of sexual energy, and other habitual behaviors fueled further by the habits of mind and the creation of storylines. Disempowering use of or over-reliance on divination tools rather than your own innate intuitive capacity. Incessant seeking after ‘the answer’ or the magical means, so much so that a refusal to ever ‘find’ what you’ve been seeking is formed. We actually end up refusing our innate freedom, turning away from ourselves in an effort to find ourselves. And there are more, and so much more I could speak about any of these individually.
But let me leave you with one final contemplation as you go forward and consider all of this and that is simply that if you are ultimately able to seal your energy leaks, but are still wrapped up in your self-image due to the attachments inherent in any of the realms of existence, then there is always the danger of ego inflation as the power of your practice conflates that self image and ultimately ends up taking you further away from the goal of liberation from that very same self-identification that has caused all the trouble in the first place. In other words, it’s always the personal story line that needs to be dealt with first, and relentlessly.
May you realize freedom!
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.