Where Does Energy Come From?

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Painting by Felipe Casoati

“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.”
James Baldwin — The Fire Next Time.

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When we know how to take care of our feelings — when we know how to generate joy and happiness, and how to handle a painful feeling — we can cultivate and restore a happy home in the present moment. And when we know how to generate the energies of understanding and compassion, our home will be a very cozy, pleasant place to come back to. But if we’re not able to do these things, we won’t want to go home. Home is not something to hope for, but to cultivate. There is no way home; home is the way.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

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Listening, listening to others, listening to yourself, your emotions, your body is extremely important in the nourishment of your spiritual life. When you listen, you are attuned to others, not with the objective of what they can provide for you, but with the objective of how you can provide something meaningful for them…

Your soul rises up on wings in joy when you hear and see with your heart!

— soulopeners #listen #compassion #hearwithyourheart

I think it comes from enjoyment. Discipline and goal setting based on imitation can’t access the kind of energy that joy has ready access to. Unless you know how to listen to yourself you won’t know what you instinctively love. We are taught to imitate. We look at so-called successful people and try to model ourselves on “what worked” for them.

We are not taught to take our instructions from ourselves. We attend to external events more than to the world inside us. We act automatically and unconsciously from an inner store of uncultivated and unevolved impulses. We simply try to make our emotions conform to our self image, making them live in the shadows. The more we do that the less we know ourselves. We develop a big inner shadow that follows us through life and trips us up. We don’t see it but other people do.

People who listen to themselves without prejudice can listen to others in the same way. These people make good counselors and therapists, good parents and friends. They also make good artists and writers. A creative person is more than a good crafts person. It’s essential to have understanding and compassion for the whole human soul. That depth and breadth of comprehension is beyond technique.

We want to know how to live with passion, with joy and meaning. Connection to our deepest self is indispensable in this search. This is why we do what we have a passion for, because that gives access to the energy needed to create a meaningful life for ourselves. Some people know without a question what kind of life they are meant for, but some of us are discouraged too early and never learn to listen to ourselves.

I think that’s a tragedy. We live in a society that demands performance in the chase for money and status. We conform too easily, applying our energies in competition and self-measuring. We stop listening to our heart’s desire and exhaust ourselves in a race we don’t really care about even if we win it.

Finding and practicing what we love is more than a privilege, it’s a basic necessity in life. It does require some courage. You do have to go your own way. Believing in yourself, encouraging yourself is part of the picture. In listening to yourself, if you notice you are discouraging yourself, it’s important, not to suppress it, but watch it to see where it comes from and where it leads.

Getting out of your own way is the first step. Finding what you enjoy and valuing it enough to pursue it can make a garden out of your life. That’s a life worth living.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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