What's in your energy budget?
This past weekend a friend invited me to float in a sensory deprivation tank. I've been before, so I knew it would be healing, transformative, or at the very least deeply relaxing.
(If you haven't heard of "floating," check out this article in Slate magazine about one friend's experience and the history of the practice. And if you're ever in Charlottesville, VA, I highly recommend AquaFloat!)
The effortless buoyancy and sensory deprivation in the tank frees up a lot of physical and mental energy, providing the perfect setting for deep meditation. When I caught myself instead fretting about a recent encounter I was replaying in my mind, I realized it was time for a personal energy audit.
I learned about the "daily energy budget" concept from Caroline Myss, an insightful and influential teacher and mystic. According to Myss, most of us waste our energy throughout the day on trivial things and have little left over when we need to do the deeper work of maintaining our mental, physical, and emotional health. To illustrate her point, Myss proposed imagining that we get $100 worth of energy to spend each day. If we put a dollar amount to our (largely unconscious) energy expenditures, we can see where we are spending needlessly.
For example (I'm paraphrasing here), holding a grudge requires energy, so that might cost $10. Indulging in feelings of anger, blame, judgement, and bitterness--whether directed inwards or outwards--is costly ($20). We waste energy comparing ourselves to others and trying to sustain a particular impression: there goes $20. We read the morning news and freak out over things we can't control ($10) and project our fears and anxieties onto the future ($10).
The list can go on, fine-tuned to our own particular hang ups, and it doesn't leave a whole lot to power our bodies and minds. After we've wasted all of this energy, we wonder why we get sick and don't heal. Or why we can't think clearly, aren't waking up rested, or can't seem to stick to a wellness routine. Those all require energy, and we've drained the budget. And if we want a burst of inspiration, a beautiful synchronicity, or to attract the right job or person into our life? Well, those are expensive! They require some serious budget-trimming, conscious accounting, and efforts to replenish funds.
Fortunately, Myss teaches, we can make deposits into our energy banks. As you might expect, this is by engaging attributes that are the opposite of critical, negative, selfish, anxious, and obsessive. We can replenish our stores through generosity, mindfulness, gratitude, bravery, compassion, and forgiveness--as acts and thoughts towards ourselves and others.
While in the tank holding on to my residual defensiveness, I decided to mentally cross that line off the day's budget. I brought in the energy of gratitude, sent compassion to myself and the person I was debating in my mind, and I felt a tingle of expansion and light. Energy in the bank.
How aware are you of your daily energy expenditures? Perhaps this week, now that you've done your financial accounting for the year, you can do some energy accounting:
How much are you worrying about things you can't control instead of working with what you can?
Are you holding on to hurts and grievances, and how often are you re-engaging with them?
Are you spending energy being afraid of something that might never happen?
Are you making regular deposits into your energy bank?
Becoming aware of where we're wasting energy is an important first step towards freeing up some extra energy for more important things. What might you be able to accomplish for your health and well-being with some extra freed-up energy today?