While I am typically quite satisfied with my state of being in the world, yesterday, I was reading a favorite blog of mine, and it got me thinking that maybe I shouldn't be so content. The blog is called Beginner's Mind. It's a yoga blog written by Kristin Shepherd. Her posts are usually quite short, but they always make me think. The post I'm referring to here was titled Yoga and Energy Management. In the post, Shepherd sets up a sort of dichotomy in regards to managing energy. She writes...
Some people have a strong sense of their own power. They're generally unafraid of their bodies, other people, and life events. They trust. They're the optimists, the resilient ones who know that even when things look bad, they're headed in a great direction. They act out of confident joy. They are motivated by fun, happiness, feeling good. ("It makes me feel fantastic," they say about traveling, about new careers, about highland dancing, photography, about going back to school.)
At the other end of the spectrum are those who are afraid of life, of their own bodies, of viruses and bacteria ("Of course I'll get that cold, I get all the colds"), of the unknown, of scarcity, of the future. They don't trust--they suffer. They act out of fear. Their choices are based on just-in-case scenarios and preventing bad things from happening. They're all about anti-cancer, anti-poverty, anti-aging, anti-heart disease ("My mother had it, my father had it, my brother's going to get it, he eats so badly, god, I might as get on the transplant list now."), and on and on.
This post spoke to my "about-to-turn-forty-taking-stock" mindset. After reading it, I found myself asking, "How do I manage my energy? Do I have a strong sense of my own power or am I afraid of life?"
I decided to convert the dichotomy into a continuum because I see myself, at times, in both of the descriptions Shepherd puts forth. Naturally, I began to call up experiences where I could see myself on a point of the continuum. For example, last weekend Fonda and I were camping (not necessarily a super high/positive energy activity for me). We were sitting in the camper with our pups in the heat of the day and we were reading (again, not a super high/positive energy activity). It was in that moment that I stopped reading to recognize how happy I was in that moment. The feeling was so strong that I looked over to Fonda and told her how incredibly happy I felt.
Obviously, I want to manage my energy in a way that allows me to spend more of my time with the level of energy I experienced in the camper that day. I'd like to be the optimist, always acting out of "confident joy". But I'm a realist. I understand that it's most likely not possible to be in that state of existence 100% of the time, though I think that presently, more often than I would prefer, I find myself acting from a place of fear or low/negative energy.
The researcher in me saw an opportunity to learn something about myself. So, for the next week-and-a-half (before I turn forty), I will be paying attention to my energy. I will consciously recognize times when I feel positive energy/confident joy and times when I feel negative energy/tension/stress. Then, I will take note of the activities and conditions that evoke these feelings (even as I construct a plan for paying attention to my energy levels, I'm wondering if stress and tension always correlate with negative energy...so much to learn). I believe, with this data, I will be in a position to make more time for the things that produce positive energy while limiting those things that create negative energy - a worthwhile goal for someone turning forty, don't you think?