20 April 2021: Losing my prostate has brought energy changes. It’s also got me exploring where my energy really comes from. When I say “energy” I mean something less tangible than the literal physical energy we get from eating food and burning it in our muscles. Here’s my broad distinction:

Energy in physics

Not created or destroyed, merely transformed in our bodies from food into muscle movement.

Calilbrated in Joules or Calories

Energy in living experience

Rather a remarkable gift of life. Comes and goes with health, moods, relationships and more.

Calibrated in enthusiasm, creativity, libido, mindfulness, drive

The physics type of energy is important and it’s crucial to pay attention to diet and fitness. This post is more about the broader and less easily measured form of “life energy.” It’s also about how I use my energy and how my patterns of control are shifting. I’ll start with what I have learned from the mindful practice of yoga.

An empty space at the base of my spine

It used to feel as if my root chakra – where my prostate used to be – was the source of the energy that shoots up my spine, particularly during yoga. And that energy, sometimes called kundalini, also feels like an apt metaphor or marker for the more general blessing of energy of which libido is just one manifestation. Now there is an empty space at the root of my body, where my prostate used to be. And yet, slowly, energy flow is returning. Where does it really come from?

This week I’ve learned a bit more about where my energy comes from and how it moves through my new prostateless body. A session with my coach Vanissar and my first in-person client meeting since the beginning of the pandemic have been illuminating. My experiences invite me to ask for and receive help in new ways.

Wanting to project my energy – but less able

What my coach helped me to see is the way I have been focused on pushing my energy outwards. As I learn more about the impact of living in a male body, I realise that this is aligned with my physical sexual expression. But it goes much further. I have always wanted to put my energy out there in work and in ideas. Even this blog is an example.

Yet my new body situation is simply less capable of projecting energy outwards. I think it’s a mix of natural aging and the affect of cancer and its treatment. I am actually rather pleased that I have succeeded in working less hard over the last year.

Receiving energy and passing it on

Growing up, I always assumed it is all up to me to make my way in the world. I had to be in control and I had to have both the energy and the answers. What my coach helped me recognise is that I am finding a new capacity to receive energy and help from beyond. We called it “permeability” – my body no longer has such a hard shell. It no longer has to shut down if it doesn’t have enough energy or doesn’t have the answers. Instead, I can ask for help. I can receive input and energy from outside.

This is not completely new. I have often felt during yoga that my body is just a conduit for energy that courses up my spine from far beyond me. For years it was like a fountain drawing energy up out of the earth, quite magically, and bursting through my body from root to crown.

Now I am more open to receive from other human beings as well. It is also mirrored in my sexuality, where I am much more open to receive from my partner and not so hooked into (or able to perform) the act of thrusting. Literally and metaphorically.

Pandemic has also rearranged energy flow patterns

I was scared this week, preparing for my first in person meeting with a business client in more than a year. Will my brain and heart and body and pace be sufficient to support my very smart and capable colleague and her corporate client in their leadership crisis? It turns out they were.

I think the clue is actually in the way I formulated my anxiety.

Unlike before, I didn’t ask myself “will I be good enough to solve this.” Instead: “how can I support my colleague in addressing the issues.”

Another example of being more open and permeable to energy flows, rather than insisting on being the source of energy in business.

Implications for the role of work

And, business is just not quite as dominant in my life as it used to be. After the client meeting, I went for another first since the start of the pandemic: lunch in a restaurant with an old friend. He asked me “how is business?” I found myself saying “not so central.” When he asked me about my plans, I found myself saying “breathing and gardening.”

Perhaps the world was speaking through me: business and profit are not as central as they used to be. And the whole planet needs to breathe more cleanly. We need to focus more on growing plants and human relationships, and less on burning up the fossil fuels laid down over millennia.

I am not the source of the energy I benefit from, it simply passes through me. My role is to be grateful for this gift, and to husband it and share it well.

An edited version of this post also appears on Psychology Today.