Fall 2020 Blog Update (Part 5 of 7) ~ Current Challenges: Applying Energy Management

At the sagging end of 2020, I’ve begun to appreciate energy management more practically: merging the pursuits of mysticism with science, it’s not a philosophy that can exist apart from a practice.

Despite the challenges that arose during an extended COVID-19 quarantine, I have managed to stumble forward in some ways. While confined indoors, I began a daily routine of calisthenics and meditation. More than anything else, meditation has helped nurture a non-intellectual side of my being, creating a space for stillness and silence in my life.

That’s far from saying that I’ve found any mastery in the approach to tending to my daily needs. Any sense of balance has been fleeting. Peace, a daydream. As much as my new practices have helped me, I remain a recovering perfectionist with a self-imploding work ethic.

At the beginning of the year, my glut of free time during the COVID-19 quarantine was a rush. I took pride in inking my ambitions on paper [as pictured below], carefully managing projects according to priorities, workflows, and thematic content. To keep me on task, I diligently tracked my progress along the way.

Trouble is, my initial enthusiasm was short-lived. In hot pursuit of a swarm of goals, I found myself urgently scrambling from one project to another, tirelessly striving for the satisfaction, or at least relief, that comes from reaching the next achievement. However, with little rest, reflection, or joy along the way, I burned out quickly. It turns out that one’s energy is a limited resource as precious as one’s time.

Quite frankly, at this point in the year, it feels like I’ve wandered deep into a forest without a guide. I’ve been hoodwinked by the trap of conditional fulfillment. My tangle of to-do lists now appears less like a ladder to higher ground than an ensnaring net.

Struggling to find a path through this thorny issue, I recently called upon a friend for feedback. With a background in middle management and an appreciation for systems thinking, my friend explained energy management as an approach to guiding the momentum of one’s life. I like how his view focuses on directing what’s already in motion. When in doubt, my friend encourages, do what compels you. Appreciate the mystery.

As someone who deeply appreciates life’s mysteries, the celebrated Indian author, mystic, and guru Sadhguru has his own inspiring view about energy management. In his Columbia University talk, Youth and Truth, he addresses the urgency of harnessing life’s most precious resources, offering insight that is as profound as it is simple:

“Life is just a combination of time and energy, isn’t it? Limited amount of time. Limited amount of energy. If you run into walls here and there, time and energy will go and your life will go. It’s very important you run through the door, not through the wall. Yes? Where there is openness, there you go.”


Fall 2020 Blog Update (Part 4 of 7) ~ Current Challenges: Understanding Energy Management

At first glance, my greatest challenge during 2020 appeared to be time management: What should I do with so much free time?

Not only did I have the standard summer break for people working in the teaching field, I had an additional two months off after being inactivated from my normal work duties due to COVID-19. This break seemed exactly like the gold mine I’d been dreaming of for years. If only I had the time…

Upon closer inspection, the ongoing challenge lies less with time management than energy management.

But what in God’s name is energy?

For some people, energy involves polishing oversized crystals or shuffling Tarot cards while rambling on about auras. It’s often experienced as an intuited feeling accompanied by a belief in a metaphysical force that can help guide our lives.

For others, energy is a property of matter, something that must be calculated to be understood. As defined by Brittanica, “Energy, in physics, is the capacity for doing work.” And as Wikipedia reminds us, echoing my high school science class, “Energy is a conserved quantity; the law of conservation of energy states that energy can be converted in form, but not created or destroyed.”

For me, I currently grasp the concept of energy as an enigma, something equally practical and profound. If pressed to the task of defining it, I’d puzzle it as follows. (Warning: brace for heavy riffing.)

If time is as a trans-existent void within which space emerges—the former being the-formless-what-is within which the latter, all-that-is-to-be, persists in coming forth—then matter is the visible embodiment of energy. Okay, something like that. 

Problem solved?

Not quite. This sort of heavy riffing seems like a delightful solution by evening. But it’s of little use in resolving my daily needs the following day.

In moving forward, the pressing issue remains: How can I better manage my potential for doing meaningful work to support the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of myself and also, possibly, hopefully, of the world?