In human terms, ‘energy’ is one of those nebulous concepts that can be hard to define. In a strictly literal sense, we tend to refer to our capacity for action and activity, our ability to get up and get on. Yet often when we employ the word we are gesturing towards a more abstract sense-impression, a feeling about a person, a space, a group, a situation. We notice when the energy is off, when we struggle to engage and feel blocked by some unnameable sensation.
When we talk about these feelings in everyday life, metaphors of ‘energy’ often give way to ones of music. ‘Vibes’ or ‘vibration’, ‘resonance’ and ‘resonate’ are employed as synonyms alongside energy, in both their positive and negative aspects. How often have we walked into a room and instantly felt a lingering sense of ‘bad vibes’, or described a stranger whom we have just met as giving off ‘good energy’? We are drawn to people we ‘resonate’ with; an unnameable sense of connectivity – the language of ‘harmony’ and ‘dissonance’.
What distinguishes these terms from ‘energy’ is that they are all relational descriptors; they serve to describe interactions between subjects and objects. However, unlike harmony or resonance, energy exists within all of us before it has something to react to, acting as a pre-existing state which is called into action by the external world. These responses to external stimuli happen at a pre-verbal and often pre-conscious level, and we tend to feel before we think. Learning to listen to our inner world, our own energy, is about getting in touch with this deeper awareness at a cognitive level and bringing it into our thought processes in an active, rather than re-active, way.
In the world of work, we tend not prioritise our own energy as a guiding principle of action. We are assailed by demands on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy – often with little opportunity to replenish these resources. Instead, we fall into a pattern of managing our time rather than our energy, rushing from one task to the next with little space for reflection in between.
Without pausing to get in touch with ourselves, the person who shows up and performs each day can gradually drift away from our true nature and potential, caught in the daily churn of events with no resilience or grounding. Trying merely to keep up can actually have the opposite effect, and we quickly find ourselves overwhelmed.
To get in tune with the self (another music metaphor!), try and find time for a short ‘resonance exercise’. The exercise itself is simple: be still, sit quietly, or go for a walk. Allow the world to speak back to you; smell flowers, look up at the sky. All the time observing not just the external world but where your energy is resonating. What sights, sounds, smells, or thoughts are you drawn towards, which do you feel moving you? Quieting the mind and being sensitive to our own energy is the first step in coming back to the world, refreshed, renewed, and ready to play our part in the best way possible.