Several years ago I read My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained brain scientist who suffered a massive stroke at the age of 37. Throughout the book, Taylor details her life both before the stroke and the eight years it took her to recover after the stroke.
One of the profound insights Taylor had while she was still unable to communicate was that she could literally feel others’ energy. Meaning, if someone entered the room feeling anxious and worried she began to feel that way too. Likewise, if an individual entered the room feeling calm and peaceful that energy was absorbed by Taylor as well.
Taylor realized that she needed to focus all of her energy on getting well and that being around individuals with positive energy helped her to do so. Eventually, she had a sign made that hung in her hospital room that read, “Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.” The sign served as a reminder to all that their internal energy was a powerful force that could aid or slow down her healing.
Since reading Taylor’s book, I have spent countless moments simply observing energy – my own, my children’s and the energy of those around me. These observations have led me to marvel at how easy it is to get caught up in our daily lives without being aware of our energy and its impact on us and those around us.
With that in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned about energy over the years as I’ve watched it’s effects on me and so many others:
1. Holding onto negative energy blocks us from receiving and expressing positive energy.
2. Most negative energy comes from resisting what is. When we are in resistance we cannot be at ease.
3. Our inner contentment will effortlessly help others to feel more comfortable and secure.
4. As long as we are holding onto things that are no longer serving us, our energy cannot go towards the things we want.
5. It helps to think about how we want to use our energy at the start of each day by saying something like, “Today, I will use my energy to…”
At a recent workshop I asked participants to do this exercise and the answers were so unique to each individual. I heard:
Today, I will use my energy to encourage and inspire (from an educator).
Today, I will use my energy to radiate confidence (from a woman who had a job interview later that afternoon).
Today, I will use my energy to spread joy and laughter (from a stay-at-home dad).
When you do this exercise, be sure to check in with yourself throughout the day and ask, “Is what I’m doing right now using my energy to…”
6. During difficult moments with loved ones, such as when you are putting your child back to bed after he has gotten up for the fifth time or when you are having a disagreement with your spouse, it can be helpful to pause for a moment and say the following to yourself, “May the loving energy in me connect with the loving energy in you.”
I know that some eyes might roll at this one but, before you dismiss it please try it. You might be surprised at the shift that you notice in yourself. I find that when I remember to do this, I am more likely to let go of judgment and criticism and approach the situation with a new sense of compassion and understanding.
7. Finally, every moment is a chance to start anew and choose yet once again whether we want to use our energy for the benefit or detriment of ourselves and others. The choice is always ours to make.
“Our potential to affect others with our energy is both a great gift and a great responsibility.”