So… It was brought to my attention the other day one of the fundamental ways in which my mind operates and it inspired me to write this post; I will hopefully shed some light on the subject of ‘energy’ from my personal experiences.
I realized that my mind operates in extremes; polar opposites at times, bouncing from one perspective to another. I simply thought I was just an excitable person by nature and that was it; I had no awareness outside of this way of being. I rode the extreme emotional highs and lows of the thoughts that entered my mind without ever questioning why that was happening to me. Previous to this realization, I had no idea that balance was something my mind was lacking.
Energetically speaking, emotional swings are resource intensive and often exhausting. I have experienced first-hand many times what it means to feel ‘energetically burnt-out,’ to the point where I don’t want to interface with people, or life in general for that matter anymore. Once I’ve reached the state of burn-out, it often takes several days, even weeks sometimes to regain the energy needed to continue on with my life, business as usual. What’s become glaringly apparent to me is how the burn-out state affects the relationships of those around me both personally and professionally. Because my energy resources become so depleted, my thoughts become scattered, and I don’t usually have the energy to explain how I’m feeling to those who care about me, which creates a lot of confusion, worry, and stress in them. I become the type of person I don’t want to be, as a result of a lack of awareness of my behavioural pattern; that is to say, when I lack balance in my mind. However, on the other hand, being able to view and potentially entertain a wide variety of perspectives when decision-making can be an immensely powerful tool, provided balance is present.
What has ultimately led me to understanding energetic burn-out started with a long path of discovery when I was laid off as an engineer in the fall of 2015. Previous to my lay-off, my perspective of the word “energy” in the context of the human body and mind was: some hippy-ethereal non-sense, that I would have never pandered to and would have aggressively refuted at the time as having scientific validity. However, as I learned, perspectives can shift dramatically, especially when your identity is suddenly stripped from you, as I experienced with the loss of my job. Doors that had never been opened before in my reality broke off the hinges as they flung open, showing me a new way of being.
I essentially went from a purely logical, skeptical, scientific mechanical engineer to the extreme opposite way of being over the next 1.5 years of my life. I slowly began to loosen my stranglehold on what I viewed at the time as “concrete reality” when I started a yoga teacher training program. Throughout the course, which was more-or-less group therapy, I began to let go of the idea that I was an engineer. I realized that I was much more than any label a profession gave to me, and that I was capable of so many different things outside of my chosen profession. When I left the course in early 2016, I left with so many unanswered questions like “where do I go from here?”, “what do I do now?”, “should I go back to engineering because it’s ‘safe’ and what I know?” I spent weeks pondering these questions, feeling afraid, lost, and totally confused until one unassumingly exciting day: “the existential crisis day,” as I like to refer to it. That day, I had a deep feeling inside that shook me to the core and told me to trust. To trust that things were going to work out even though I had no idea how they would work out. With no reference point, there was nothing more to figure out at this time and all I could do was trust that it was all going to work out.
Over time, I became very comfortable with the idea of just letting go and ‘trusting’ in my heart that my life would unfold the way it needed to. After all, once I started to trust in the process of my life, I started writing and being creative, I met a beautiful woman who I fell for almost immediately, I was easily discovering a surplus of exciting events, people, and communities to teach me things perfectly aligned with my interests. Essentially, it always seemed like I was in the right place at the right time and all the ‘pieces were falling together perfectly;’ if I looked into my past, I could see a systematic process clearly, wherein each moment of my life perfectly came together like some grand puzzle. A puzzle that was continuously coming together piece by piece in each moment going forward outside of my control; all I had control over was the degree to which I fought this process or accepted it. “Ordering off the universe’s menu” 1 became the new norm for me. As in, I could ask for something I truly felt of value inside of me to come to me in my life, but it would never come in a clear-cut, logical, linear fashion; it always came to me in pieces, through the most abstract, non-linear (often difficult/challenging) experiences which I could not understand why were happening to me at the time, but always glued together perfectly to create the lesson I asked for, which I became aware of later.
However, due to the fact that my heart was so open (I over-compensated with my new perspective), I became blind to rational thinking and hence, reality. During this period of time I also met the most ruthless human being of my life; it was a landlord of mine whose place I moved into for a brief period of time and subsequently, someone I would end up going to court with down the road to resolve outstanding issues between us. The emotional highs and lows of simply trusting everything and everyone to do what I felt they needed to do was an idea I entertained for some time. Because of the nature of my mind, which is to pursue experiencing perspectives to the extreme, I wanted to entertain what trust truly meant to me. As a result, in the fall of 2016 I signed up with a health and wellness coaching program in Integrative Health that I felt ‘guided’ towards, which interestingly deals with the interrelationship of both the holistic ‘eastern’ views of health and conventional ‘western’ modalities of medicine; another balance point between ethereal (heart-centered) and logical (mind-centered) philosophies. I particularly reinforced the belief in trusting that my heart would always guide me without question especially when I discovered the HeartMath Institute and their research. An excerpt from the HeartMath Institute:
“The heart has been considered the source of emotion, courage and wisdom for centuries. For more than 26 years, the HeartMath Institute Research Center has explored the physiological mechanisms by which the heart and brain communicate and how the activity of the heart influences our perceptions, emotions, intuition and health. . . In recent years, we have conducted a number of research studies that have explored topics such as the electrophysiology of intuition and the degree to which the heart’s magnetic field, which radiates outside the body, carries information that affects other people and even our pets, and links people together in surprising ways. We also launched the Global Coherence Initiative (GCI), which explores the interconnectivity of humanity with Earth’s magnetic fields.” 2
I fervently continued down my path of trusting in my heart and as a result, ended up taking a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in the new year. In this course, one is required to follow a regimented schedule for a period of 10 days and rigorously observe Noble Silence (“Silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited [until the morning of the last full day]”) as well as 5 precepts, to emulate the experience of living as a monk or nun. 3
What I learned from this course was that in modern society we have a lot of distractions in our every day life, and just how excruciatingly difficult it is to sit with my thoughts without any distractions to grasp onto. I was deeply humbled and gained fundamental awareness of how I operate on a daily basis, and realized that the contents of my mind are essentially limitless, and carry on forever. I also experienced first-hand what impermanence (constant change) felt like through days of intensely focusing my mind on the meditation, as a means to increase my sensitivity to energetic subtleties happening throughout my body at any given moment. At times, I could feel my entire body vibrating, as if I were just made of energetic particles interacting and consistently changing/shifting, which is congruent with findings in Particle Physics. 4 I felt like I had time traveled to the future for 10 years, caught a glimpse of the future me, then had to return to reality of the present.
As many amazing and powerful realizations that I had in taking the course and subsequently afterwards, I walked away with one particular metaphor that came to me while meditating that continues helping me today. I like to think in my life, I am controlling a vehicle (my body), which has both a driver (my mind = traction) and a navigator (my heart = guidance). Without navigation, the driver continues forward blindly without any sort of direction, sometimes finding good roads to travel down, but often drives in circles and gets lost and confused, much to the driver’s dismay, despite a continuous effort to drive somewhere. Without a driver, the navigator can clearly see where the vehicle needs to go but can never actually itself alone get the vehicle physically to where it needs to be. Thus, a trusting and working relationship between the heart and mind must exist. The driver must trust and receive wisdom from the navigator and the navigator must trust the driver to do its job and drive the vehicle towards the destination.
So what is energy?
To me, I believe that my heart was built with wisdom from birth. My heart knew how to beat the moment I started living, due to its intuitive connection with natural forces within and around me (energy). My mind only started learning how to rationalize and reason from birth, acquiring further wisdom as I have aged. I am grateful to have explored both realms of being to the extreme; one very mind-centered and one very heart-centered. As a result, I feel my life is a delicate balance and collaborative partnership between my mind and heart.
- as my lovely girlfriend Marta Kalalova eloquently describes it ↩
- for further information see: https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/ ↩
- for further information see: https://www.dhamma.org/en/about/code ↩
- “the particles we’re made of; about 99 percent of your body is made up of atoms of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. You also contain much smaller amounts of the other elements that are essential for life.
While most of the cells in your body regenerate every seven to 15 years, many of the particles that make up those cells have actually existed for millions of millennia. The hydrogen atoms in you were produced in the big bang, and the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms were made in burning stars. The very heavy elements in you were made in exploding stars.
The size of an atom is governed by the average location of its electrons. Nuclei are around 100,000 times smaller than the atoms they’re housed in. If the nucleus were the size of a peanut, the atom would be about the size of a baseball stadium. If we lost all the dead space inside our atoms, we would each be able to fit into a particle of lead dust, and the entire human race would fit into the volume of a sugar cube.
As you might guess, these spaced-out particles make up only a tiny portion of your mass. The protons and neutrons inside of an atom’s nucleus are each made up of three quarks. The mass of the quarks, which comes from their interaction with the Higgs field, accounts for just a few percent of the mass of a proton or neutron. Gluons, carriers of the strong nuclear force that holds these quarks together, are completely massless.
If your mass doesn’t come from the masses of these particles, where does it come from? Energy. Scientists believe that almost all of your body’s mass comes from the kinetic energy of the quarks and the binding energy of the gluons.”
for further information see: http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/the-particle-physics-of-you ↩