As I write this, it’s gloomy and wet outside. I’m feeling a bit sluggish, which makes me tempted to brew myself a cup of black tea. Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept the ups and downs of my energy – I like it up when I want to get things done. So, perhaps it’s a good day to share this excerpt from our upcoming book, The Well Life (it comes out December 2nd, but you can pre-order it now). This is from the chapter on energy, in which we explain how to optimize energy in sustainable ways, such as diet, Qi Gong, sleep optimization, and manipulation of how our energy comes and goes.
The Constant Quest for More Energy
Energy is big business. Our demand for more of it has produced a market for 20,000+ Starbucks stores. Then there’s Rockstar and Red Bull and Coke and all the other caffeinated beverages. Sure, people could be drinking this stuff for the flavor. Or they could be going to Starbucks for the pastries. But we all know the main driving force behind the industry is our desire for more energy.
To a mind that thinks it needs to get more done, more energy appears to be the solution. The difference between you and the savant entrepreneur who writes a book every year and sold her first company at age twenty-five? Perhaps you’ve told yourself, “I just don’t have that kind of energy,” and such a life therefore seems unattainable.
The more important discussion may be whether your underlying beliefs about productivity are valid and useful, but we’ll get to that later. For now, we’re willing to agree that energy is important. With good energy, your gifts are more likely to be shared with the world. With fatigue, you’re more likely to tell yourself it’s not important that you do anything, or you just beat yourself up for not being more productive. So, let’s talk about energy.
Understanding Your Jing
One of the most valuable lessons we’ve garnered from the study of Eastern systems of medicine is the concept of essence—known as jing in Traditional Chinese Medicine and as ojas in Ayurveda. It’s an idea worth sharing with the West. Our jing can be roughly understood as our life potential, stored deep inside us. It’s a combination of genetic inheritance, Divine and parental contributions, and innate gifts. When allowed to emerge into the world at our own pace, we tend to live long and productive lives. But if we stress out, burn the candle at both ends, and try to rush life along, we can habitually exceed our resources, and we may exhaust our jing prematurely. When our jing begins to decline, our body shows signs of aging.
In this chapter, we’ll explain how to use structure, sweetness, and space to enhance your energy while simultaneously developing a healthier relationship with it.
Structure for Optimal Energy
There are four fundamental aspects to establishing a structure for optimal energy:
- Understand how energy comes to you and how it leaves
- Learn to feel yourself expending energy and reduce your expenditure
- Learn to feel how you build energy and enhance this process
- Respect the limits of your daily allotment of energy and strictly reduce demands on your reserves
Abiding by these principles isn’t all that different from earning money and balancing your bank account. Tapping into your inherited jing, on the other hand, is like drawing on credit and going into debt.
Sweetness for Optimal Energy
The sweetness of energy optimization lives primarily in recognizing and cultivating the things that nourish you, and in appreciating them as sweetness rather than perfunctory routines. Consider how much more you could enjoy these practices, and, because they’re such an ongoing and prevalent element in your life, how much your life would thus be enhanced, if you chose to really savor them.
Space for Optimal Energy
Abundant energy requires space. Space is essential to be able to listen to and to feel the influx and outflow of energy. Only by making space within ourselves, to shift a portion of our consciousness to what’s happening on an energetic level, are we able to feel if we’re needlessly pouring our own vital energy into a project, or giving it away to a troubled friend.
If this excerpt piqued your interest, please pre-order our book. It’s full of so much good stuff!
Dr. Peter Borten