Energy: The Core of Well-Being

Our bodies form the foundation of earthly existence. Energizing our body enriches our lives by enhancing every human capacity. If we don’t take good care of our bodies, where will we live?
Meet Dan Millman at the Natural Living Expo, Sunday, November 15, 2015, in Marlboro, MA.


If you haven’t yet achieved optimal energy, vitality, and health, it is not because you haven’t read or heard good advice on the topic. The world is filled with guidelines, principles, and methods, both modern and ancient.

Good advice isn’t enough. You can benefit only from what you do each and every day. That is why it’s so important to keep it simple and practical.

Here’s an example: Take one slow, deep breath — as slowly and deeply as you can, without strain — first expanding your lower ribs and back, and then your chest, and feel yourself relax as you slowly exhale. In the same manner, take two more deep breaths before proceeding. And from now on, for the rest of your life, take at least one deep, deliberate breath every hour. Take a nice deep breath right now and you’ve begun — you’ve now learned a simple, energizing practice for life — if you do it.

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our bodies; we indulge them, deprive them, stuff them or starve them, overwork and underwork them, spoil them, punish them, enjoy them, suffer them, and, at times, feel betrayed by them. How many of us wish to travel out of our bodies before we’ve even gotten into them — to reincarnate before we’ve fully incarnated.

To energize your body, first make peace with it. In fact, your body is the only thing you're guaranteed to keep for an entire lifetime. Treat it well. When you do so, many other things fall into place. The human journey begins and ends with the body.

Energy is the most abundant substance in the universe; in fact it is the universe. You are made of energy. You take it in at the gross levels from the food you eat, and on more refined levels from the air you breathe and from the people and living things around you. Amplifying your energy enhances your strength, mental alertness and brightness, charisma and personal presence, sensitivity and intuition, and even the ability to heal yourself and assist in the healing of others.

The key to managing your physical energy is actually three-fold:

1. How efficiently you assimilate energy through the food you eat and the air you breathe;

2. How efficiently you channel energy through your body through exercise, stretching, and relaxation;

3. How efficiently you spend energy in the world

You may recall the story of the man who stood on a mountaintop and cried up to the heavens, “Fill me full of light!” A voice thundered down from the heavens, “I’m always filling you, but you keep leaking!”

Even now, abundant energy flows through the world, swirling around you, flowing through you. Your primary task in managing energy is to clear internal energy leaks so you can maintain a higher energy level.

The primary energy leaks include illness, injuries, postural imbalances, overloaded digestive systems — but the two primary leaks are unnecessary muscular tension and inhibited breathing. We unconsciously hold our breath many times during the day: posing for a photo (or selfie); pouring a liquid; typing or texting (keyboard apnea) or doing any other concentrated task. We are meant to breathe rhythmically throughout the day, the depth and pace of breathing appropriate to the level of exertion. Life is an all-day yoga class; we never roll up the mats.

Vibrant health is essential to removing the obstructions that create our tension and devitalize our bodies. The cornerstones of energy include (1) moderate, regular exercise; (2) a simple, healthful diet including fresh air and water; and (3) sufficient rest. What constitutes moderate exercise, a balanced diet, and enough rest differs for each person. Life is an experiment; find out what works best for you.

These three areas comprise the holy trinity of health. All three, taken together, balance your body and generate vitality that enables you to meet the challenges of everyday life.

Don’t get lost in the details of food. As Mark Twain quipped, "Be careful about reading too many health books; you may die of a misprint." Don't impose a philosophy on the body, no matter how elegant it may be. Avoid becoming a macrobiotic or paleo or raw or vegetarian or vegan, low fat, high fat, Ayurvedic or blood type fundamentalist. Just pay attention to what you eat and its effects on your particular body. Refine then trust your instincts.

An occasional reduction of food intake, whether taking a day or more to eat only vegetables and fruit, or fasting from food, can help re-tune your instincts. But even something as beneficial as the occasional fast is not for everyone. I do a 24-hour fast once a week, not eating from dinner to dinner. I also happen to eat a moderate vegetarian diet (no meat or poultry or fish, although I tried fish again for a period of time, but found it unnecessary for me). But I am not suggesting that you do the same as I do. There is no best approach to eating, only the best approach for you.

And don't worry about getting enough protein. Most protein-related problems people encounter aren't from insufficient protein, but rather from too much of it. Anyone who eats a variety of foods will get a combination of amino acids to make complete protein.

You may study nutrition and say, "But what about my omega-3? What about vitamin B12 and D3? What about sufficient this and too much of that?" The information is endless. The question remains, "How do you eat day to day?" Some of us do well with three regular meals and no between-meal snacks; others eat two meals, or graze throughout the day. Don't rely on formulas or systems. Find out what works best for you in your current circumstances, at this point in your life.

Moderate, balanced exercise may be the most important key of all, whether that means daily walks or more rigorous training, depending on your goals, needs, age, and innate energy level.

Fitness and physical talent are founded upon four primary areas that begin with the letter "S": strength, suppleness, stamina, and sensitivity (including qualities like coordination, balance, rhythm, timing, and reflex speed).

You exercise every time you move in the field of gravity — walking, sitting down and standing up, lifting and carrying groceries, climbing stairs, cleaning the house, gardening. As long as you are using your limbs, working your muscles (including your heart), and breathing deeply, you are exercising. By taking the stairs instead of the escalator, by parking your car a little farther from the shopping mall, you develop an energizing lifestyle. What counts is not only what you do for an hour at the gym, but also how much you have moved by the end of each day, the end of each week.

Sports also provide some exercise, but competitive games are designed to release tension — to provide enjoyment, recreation, and skill development — not necessarily to provide balanced fitness training. In fact, most sports provide only limited and random fitness benefits.

Conscious exercise, in contrast, is designed to improve the overall balance and development of the body. Conscious exercise develops a balance of all four S's of physical talent; combines movement, mind, and breath; makes ease and relaxation a priority; energizes rather than fatigues; involves an awareness of breathing patterns; creates symmetry (balances both sides of the body); includes specific elements of deliberate tension followed by relaxation (in order to release chronic tension).

Different forms of conscious exercise forms include hatha yoga, certain martial arts, gymnastics, trampoline, dance, and the Peaceful Warrior Workout. Done regularly, and in moderation, conscious exercise can balance, rejuvenate, and energize your life.

Mindful attention to your body — its needs and vitality, and to breath and tension-free movement — helps you design your daily life and habits to enjoy flowing energy and a baseline wellness that forms the basis of a productive life.

Drawn from Dan Millman's book, Everyday Enlightenment (Grand Central Publishing).

Meet Dan Millman at the Natural Living Expo, Sunday, November 15, 2015, in Marlboro, MA.

Dan Millman — a former world champion gymnast, Stanford University coach, martial arts instructor, and Oberlin College professor — is the author of 17 books published in 29 languages.

See also:
Energy Medicine: Keeping Your Energies Humming
New Avenues In Energetic Healing