Something I contemplate regularly is the flow of energy in and out of our lives. I’m speaking of metaphysical energy, but those who know me know that I see even the most mundane and “purely physical” things in this light. (See footnotes 1 & 2)
There is the flow of energy within us, and the flow of energy outside of ourselves. And then there is the flow of energy between us and our lives, and that which is external to us and it.
The way I see it, we aren’t meant to just endlessly accumulate energy. You give and you receive. Give and receive. With our physical bodies. In our subtle bodies. In our homes. With our wallets. We give and receive.
If we cease to do this, we create stagnation. Stagnation creates decay.
In my refrigerator and pantry, if I only acquire and neglect to use things, a lot of food will expire before I or anyone else can use it. I enjoy rotating the stock in my kitchen. Fresh new foods come in. I prepare them quickly, to savor fresh flavor and preserve nutrients. Then the cycle continues. Always enough. Not too little that I’m malnourished or bored. Not too much that I am overwhelmed into indecision about what to make or forget about something till it rots. I strive to create a good balance for me. Energy in the form of food, flowing in and out.
This continues when I eat my food. I take in the calories and essential nutrients I need. My body uses what it can and removes what it can't. The nutrients retained are sent throughout my body. They flow where they are needed and are recycled within me---until they are finally shed away me altogether. If I take in too much, I will become overweight or develop a toxic excess of a vitamin or mineral. If my body can’t let go, I may get clogged pores, an impacted colon, or even cancer. Without the proper flow, the whole system can be destroyed.
That extends to the air we breath and the water we drink. A person—unless there are pretty heavy miracles at play—will die quickly without air or water. We must exhale to inhale. And drinking without excreting leads is ultimately fatal. Breathing too shallowly, too deeply, too slowly, or too quickly will all impact our physiology (e.g. blood pH) as well. Sometimes it’s useful to consciously alter our breathing for certain purposes, like purifying our subtle energy body, trying to reach transcendental states, or to activate our endocannabinoid system. We must master the flow necessary for the purpose we hope to accomplish. That includes mastering normal breathing in an non-constrictive way, if want to promote the feeling ease and well-being in our lives.
The same principles extend to the money and the material possessions we own.
What’s the point of continuously earning money if you don’t use it to improve your own life and the lives of others? There’s a saying that you can go broke saving money. There are many senses in which that’s true. One way is that being too cheap is costly in the long run. That’s the case with buying poorly made products because they cost less, initially. It’s true of not investing in our well-being or deferring maintenance in any area of our life because we don’t want to be parted with our money.
But the reverse is also true that we should be wise about not spending more money than we can afford. If you keep acquiring possessions without using up, giving away, or discarding anything, you will wind up with clutter. If it gets bad enough, it reduces emotional wellness, creates unusable areas in our homes, and even threatens safety. Even if you only overspend on non-physical things, it’s likely that your quality of life will be negatively impacted if you can't truly afford them.
Of course it’s possible, I believe, to have a happy medium with money and possessions as with all things. Where that balance lies will be different for different people at different times in their lives. But without healthy flow, quality of life suffers.
Well what if you want to have more “good” energy (in the form of wealth or health or subtle energy or whatever) than you have now? Shouldn’t you just try to retain as much as possible?
For one thing, you get what you put out there. You can call this the law of attraction. You can call this karma. Or you can even call this cognitive-behavioral therapy. I don’t care what you label it. (And I realize there are caveats to this axiom just like everything else.) But whether you agree with it or not, ask yourself: Do I want to put hoarding and greed out there? Or do I want to project abundance and sharing into the world? And which would you like to have return to you?
What reality do you want to project? For me, it’s an easy choice to want to live in the world where there *is* abundance for all and we can give freely without fear. I strive to back up that choice with my actions the best I can.
I’m not suggesting that anyone impoverish themselves in any way (emotionally, spiritually, physically, monetarily, temporally…). It’s good to save your money and to be careful, financially and otherwise. So long as you are doing it from a place of *love* and not a place of fear. Spend less money because accumulating wealth can be an act of self-love, if you are doing it to care for yourself or saving for a purpose, like the a special trip or to do good in the world. Or spend less because you don't need material things to showcase your worth or make you happy. Don’t pinch every penny because you’re afraid you’ll become destitute if you don’t or you fear you have to have X amount of money to matter in this world. To quote Hello Dolly!: “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”
Wealth for no reason is pointless. And even if a person has a large amount of wealth, it's energetically healthier---and probably financially so---to allow some of that wealth to flow out to the community and allowing new wealth to flow back in.
Now there are definitely situations in which a person may need to take in more than they are able to give. It’s usually a temporary situation resulting from a major life disturbance, such as a divorce or serious illness. However, these situations can become chronic when there’s enough trauma of any kind (even minor stuff) and it hasn’t been addressed in a helpful manner. Think of a victim of domestic violence or child abuse who was never able to get real treatment.
People in those circumstances have or have had too much flowing out without enough flowing in. With those situations, the person probably needs to reach a new set-point. They need to find a new, healthier point of equilibrium from which to sway with the flow.
For them to be in a healthier balance, there has to be greater accumulation. Just like a barren field needs to be amended in order to be fertile once more.
Any forces that are actively or passively stripping away healthy, generative energy, sheng chi, must be mitigated.
Disruptive energies, sha chi, need to reduced and prevented from causing further harm. In a field, trees might be planted as a wind break to keep topsoil from blowing away. Ties to abusers, etherically and perhaps in real life, may need to be severed or reformed. Self-destructive behaviors, like addictions to food, drugs, sex, gambling, social media, shopping, work, or anything else, need to be confronted and altered.
In this way, it’ll be easier to cultivate and retain good energy. But as you accumulate, it’s important to keep releasing, especially anything that is toxic or unhelpful to you, so that you don’t stagnate. This is what's know as si chi (low or depressing energy).
Painful memories are one type of si chi. So are negative self-beliefs. In our external reality, having too much clutter or ugly possessions we don’t like is also si chi. That crap gets you down. It’s already stagnant and must be cleared so it won’t propagate more stagnation in your life.
Healthy energy is naturally flowing to us all, at all times. As we clear and release, we make room for it. Treating sha chi and si chi naturally allows us to open up to the healthy flow we’ve always been in. We can let ourselves become even more receptive to this energy flow by showing ourselves love and compassion, doing things we love, spending time in nature, receiving Reiki treatments, and in countless other ways.
And when you’ve started accumulating enough sheng chi from the flow around you, you can start sharing your own good energy with others—which may be much sooner than you think, if you are open to it. You may even be able to transform your sha chi and si chi into sheng chi. Do you have too much stuff because of over-consumption or gifts from an abusive ex you need to let go of? Sell it and use the money to help yourself or donate the items to those in need. Painful memories to process? Perhaps you can mindfully share those memories in a way that helps heal others or brings about positive changes within our society.
Regardless of where you are at now, you can find the balance that’s right for you and maintain it, by cultivating and allowing the healthy flow of all forms of energy through your life.
Footnote 1: There are layers to everything. And many systems have attempted to organize some of these layers. In Vedanta, they have the five koshas. They are the Annamaya kosha, physical layer; Pranamaya kosher, subtle energy layer; Manomaya kosha, mental layer; Vijñanmaya kosha, wisdom layer; and Anandamaya kosha, transcendent bliss layer. I believe that energy flows between and links these layers, inasmuch as it also forms the basis of each one (not only the Pranamaya kosha).
Footnote 2: Is it possible to change your physical reality through energy work? Yes, but the flip side is also true. You can change your “energy” by making very pragmatic physical changes. For some physical changes to occur through higher energetic manipulations, it can take A LOT of concentration and effort. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it may be negligent or naive to rely primarily on higher forms of energy work to effect changes that could more easily addressed through simple and practical (i.e. pertaining to our dense physical reality/Annamaya kosha) means. Why walk through solid matter if there's an open door?