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The Personal Experiment

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Your Personal Energy: A Thermodynamic View

Posted by sibbia on November 11, 2007

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In some circles, the advice you’re given is always the same. For all types of troubles, both big and small, we are told to pray or meditate, engage in positive thinking, examine our beliefs…

The person who is depressed is told to “think positively!” “cheer up!” or “pray about it!”. Likewise for someone who is dealing with anger, an addiction, being overwhelmed. Far too often, the advice is the same, no matter our particular problem.

But people are individuals and as such, we should address what we need at this moment or at this particular place in our lives.

One good model for doing this is water. Given that the human body is made up of nearly 80% of the substance, it can provide some interesting clues for how we should live our lives.

The more objectively we are able to access things, the more accurate our conclusions about the situation become. This exercise uses water as a model to get a clear picture of how our personal energy (chi, life force, or abilities) is flowing, so that we understand how to bring ourselves into balance.

Phase Diagram Pure Substance

The picture above is that of a phase diagram of water. Water is something we’re all familiar with. At standard conditions (which would be normal pressure and room temperature), water is a liquid. In it’s liquid state, water flows, is more conductive and more concentrated (denser). Perhaps water even prefers this liquid state — ice melts, rain & snow fall, and dew forms all as part of the condensation of water vapor back into a liquid. We could even go so far as to say that water is more “productive” in this state — it’s easier to use, we can drink it, we depend on it in this state.

The same idea is true of us. We prefer, and are more productive, in the liquid or fluid state. We are told to just “relax and go with the flow”. We want things to “flow smoothly” and ideas, money and occasionally libations to “flow freely”. This productive, liquid state is the zone that being spoken of when we are “in the zone.”

What does it mean for us to be fluid, given the semi-solid state of our bodies?

It’s our energy, or life force that must flow freely. Our energy must flow freely to experience good health, clear thinking, productivity — it needs to be fluid. But just as the picture above shows, there are three common states for water: liquid, ice and vapor.

Our own energy can also become “frozen” or expand to a dilute, ineffective form. We don’t want to be either too hot, or too cold. Let’s look at the extremes of either case:

Too Cold

The person whose energy is too cold has, or is in danger of becoming, “locked” into place. In this state, we are resistant to change, unlikely to pursue new ideas or areas of learning, and prone to depression and/or pessimism. In the frozen state, we are much more likely to follow than to lead, much more likely to accept our current situation than to do anything to try to better or change, and unable to cope well with either risk or change. Our thoughts and actions are more sluggish than they could be and we fall short of our potential.

The Cure

To release the water from its frozen state we apply heat. Likewise, the same should be done when our energies become too frozen and rigid. Cold is a sedentary condition so our first step is to generate motion. Exercise and proper diet are key, as are social activities, frequent “movement breaks”, lots of fresh air and natural sunlight (full-spectrum lighting is also often beneficial), pets, conversations and friends can provide excellent distractions and help get us moving again. Remembering and visualizing activities we enjoy, goals we want to pursue, and reasons to be happy is useful when in this state — preferably while taking a walk or on the treadmill, however.

Stay Away From

Those of us working on balancing this energy state should avoid:

  • sedentary activities, such as long periods of computer usage, reading, listening to music, and too much sleep to name a few.
  • too much thinking. In the extremes of this state, thought patterns become negative, repetitive and hard to break free from.
  • being isolated for extended periods of time. Friends, family, pets, and even online chat rooms and forums. This is not the time to seek out “alone time”.

Too Hot

The picture of the person whose energy has entered the gas or vapor state is your classic A type personality. This person is on a mission. In fact, they may be on several missions. They have so many interests, goals, ideas and/or commitments that is it hard to find time to rest and simply be.

Anger, irritability, impatience, excess emotionalism, forgetfulness, scattered thoughts, thinking too much (unable to decide) or rash action are all possible characteristics of this state.

The Cure

In this state, our energy has been spread much too thin and is dissipated by our actions. The goal now becomes finding a way to conserve and replenish our energy. This is a time for quiet, reflective activity. Prayer, meditation, and affirmations are all very useful in this state. This state tends to exhaust our energies and we benefit from periods of rest, handling tasks one at a time with a single focus, meditative exercises, such as tai chi, chi qong, and slow run/jogs, and focusing our mind in contemplation on one idea or thought.

Stay Away From

Things that hinder our ability to balance out this state involve:

  • haste, rushing around
  • lack of sleep
  • anger and annoyance
  • excessive external-ism and materialism
  • and excessive multi-tasking.

Summary

The goal here is to find balance. Any of us can be on any end of the scale, at any time. Learning to recognize how our energy is flowing and what we can do to optimize it on a moment by moment, day by day basis, is a powerful tool in our self-development arsenal.

As always, seeing is believing. Experiment to see how well this model works for you, and as always, let me know!

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