4 June 2020: Tracking and managing the flow of my energy feels crucial to my healing. There are many ways to make meaning of “energy.” In this post I will look at where different forms of energy come from, get boosted, how energy gets stuck, and pathways for opening up healthy energy flow.
Energy is a gift from within and beyond
Physically, the sources of energy are clear: we are what we eat, and our bodies are amazingly effective at converting food into useful energy for our minds and bodies.
My wellbeing is also governed by a more ephemeral sensation of energy that is hard to measure in calories or kiloJoules like athletic energy. Yet it is just as real in lived experience. All forms of yoga practice pay attention to it. It feels tangible for me but I don’t think there is a medical machine that can directly measure it. I track this kind of energy largely by awareness. Its presence feels effervescent, its absence feels flat.
It is different from physical or athletic energy. Even when physically fit and well fed, I can feel low in this kind of energy. Conversely, yesterday I was feeling physically very low and hungry – but could feel this other kind of energy just streaming in abundance from my fingers and toes as I moved about.
Is this metaphysical energy or spiritual energy? I am not sure. But I know it is real and I know it is a gift.
More than a decade of daily yoga has helped me become more clear that this energy is ultimately a gift from beyond. I feel as if it comes from the earth and from the horizons and flows through me. I have some brief opportunity to give thanks, and to shape and direct it before it moves onwards and outwards.
When energy gets blocked, healing can also be blocked
One of my clearest insights from the cancer has been about clearing energy pathways within my body and my being. When Kelly Turner wrote about the importance of following one’s intuition in recovering from cancer, my intuition said to me: open up, clear space, let energy flow.
What blocks energy flow for me is when I can’t do things the old way, or I can’t get what I want. I’ve had plenty of practice with both of these since my cancer diagnosis!
I couldn’t have my old body and my old life without being eaten up by cancer. And things didn’t go the way I wanted them to. Having chosen my treatment, the impact laid me low for a while, and the side effects have taken away key aspects of sexual function for a very long time, maybe forever.
There’s an important distinction here. Blocked energy is not the same as low energy. Feeling low and flat is completely normal (even though I struggle with it) and needs to be accepted. What I continue to focus on in the next section is unblocking the energy that I do have.
Importance of energy flow: finding new pathways
In my healing journey I have needed to let my energy find new pathways. The first step was to recover physical fitness and ability – I can’t stress enough how much this has helped my recovery. Some of my manhood just kind of diverted from sexual expression into other kinds of physicality. Six weeks after surgery I was lugging 20 kg bags of concrete up a hillside and upgrading a natural spring water collection dam. Perhaps you can understand me joking that this physical labour was a kind of erection replacement therapy.
My work energy was not removed along with my prostate. I have been blessed by online opportunities for work during lockdown. My action-in-the-world energy had involved literally travelling around the world working with leadership teams and their helpers in global organisations. With the pandemic that kind of travel is over for a long time. So I’ve diverted into doing something similar, virtually. Building very real connections with very real people and organisations – worldwide, online, without leaving the lockdown bubble.
Opening up is both physical and emotional
I’ve also needed to open up the literal and energetic channels in my body. All my life I suffered from blockages to my airways – chronic hay fever and post-nasal drip, sinusitis and the like. For the last about 15 years I have been working on opening up emotionally as well as physically to ease these blockages.
Since cancer arrived, I feel like I have taken another leap forward in opening these channels. Shifting to all organic food has helped. But there is something emotional and intangible that has shifted – it is hard to describe. Physically, I notice I can run harder, get my heart and breathing rates higher without feeling at risk – as if my breath literally moves more freely through my body.
Emotionally, I seem to be getting better at accepting that things don’t always go the way I want them to.
This is hugely freeing. It’s like “oh, I have cancer. That’s a challenge. Let’s see how I can still live a good life.” Accepting and moving on.
An edited version of this post also appears on the Psychology Today website.