We hear it all the time: "Send some good energy my way, please." "Oh, do you feel the energy in this room?" "My energy is all off." Some of us might even know people who call themselves energy workers. Others may scoff at the idea of using "energy" in a sentence, reserving that word for a definition regarding inertia or what happens when they drink coffee or a Red Bull.
In this particular instance, I'm speaking of none of the aforementioned uses. In certain types of yoga, they spend a lot of time asking the practitioner to focus on the energy within. This reveals itself in many different forms, but my personal favorite is during savasana when the teacher will take the yogi on a journey through his or her different body parts, usually starting from the heart center (a magical place somewhere in the very middle of your upper torso) and stemming out in all directions. The teacher asks the student to feel the energy in each joint, muscle, tissue and cell of that body part, until it's time to move on to the next. The goals vary, but ultimately it would be great if the practitioner sat up and felt a more connected sense of self (whatever that means, right?).
In a recent class at One Yoga, the instructor used his soothing voice to start us on this journey. Many people fall asleep during this part of yoga. Others (me! me! me!) spend this time thinking about what they plan to do when the class is over, or what they did before class, or about how annoying their significant other was when he/she said that one thing last Thursday. What a jerk. What I should have said to him was...oh no...crap...I'm supposed to be focusing on my -- what body part are we on? Knees? Okay. Knees. I have strange knees. They sometimes look fat. How does one have fat knees? NO! BLAH! What body part now? Ankles...ankles...
And so on. But in this particular class, on this particular day. Energy made sense to me. Perhaps it was the teacher, perhaps it was me, perhaps it was the day, perhaps it was the room. All I know is I used my imagination (which I honestly believe is the core foundation of any faith-based living, but more on that later) to see a little bright light resting somewhere between my sternum and my spine. The light looked very much like this moment in the Neverending Story:
You remember that little glowing grain of sand that the princess handed off to Bastian? That's what I found somewhere inside my innards. Then I turned it into something that looked like one of those old 1995 Windows screen savers and sent that into each body part. First the right hip, then knee, then ankle, then each toe and back up and down the other leg. Then arms, then neck, and throat, then face and head. For the first time in my yoga experience I could not only see these parts with my eyes closed, without touching them, and without twitching them, but also, as I focused on each part, I felt it getting warmer. Those little strands of screensaver energy were somehow making my knee warmer than the rest of my body.
Instead of standing up and shouting, "HOLY CATS! I THINK I FIGURED OUT WHAT ALL YOU CRAZY HIPPIES WERE TALKING ABOUT! THIS IS TOTALLY DOPE, YO!" I relaxed into a pretty beautiful half-concious state where all I cared about was feeling each part to which I was directed. There were plenty of moments when I thought about changing my cat's diet, or buying new plants for the deck, but they were quick little thought bubbles that popped as soon as they were blown.
Since then, in my personal practice, I've managed to get back to that little place using 80s movies and old computer software as my guide. It's been just as amazing and even more pleasurable.
Moral: Using whatever extraneous means possible, you really can do just about anything if you make special use of your imagination.