“We see that harmony does not mean a balance -at -rest, but a vibrant, bi-polar energy force that urges on all other energy.” – Matthew Fox
“Blessings and Balance, Balance and Blessings, For from Balance comes all Blessings.” – Grandmother Keewaydinoquay, Ojibway Medicine Woman.
TAMING THE BULL
I’m a Taurus, and we bulls can have a lot of energy. I certainly do. Sometimes I feel like there are fireworks inside me ready to explode. I feel like running – usually I tone it down and take a long walk. Other times I have used up my energy and need a rest.
I think I have always had a vast amount of energy. I also have used it up to the point of fatigue. The challenge is learning to balance energy. You only have so much. The body produces energy all the time. We also use up energy. The good news is our bodies and minds were made to balance.
I once went to a therapist who noted the unbalanced and unhealthy way my energy would go up and down. He used an excellent analogy to explain the art of balance. He said to imagine that you have two clear cookie jars and in each of the jars are “gobnicks” of energy. You could picture the “gobnicks” as marbles for instance. Now imagine that one of the jars represents the gobnicks of energy you spend or use. There are days when that jar is full to the brim, and if it were popcorn on a burner, it would pop all over the place. Other days it is only half full, so there needs to be room for the conservation of energy. Other days, those days of low energy, fatigue – there are few or no gobnicks left.
What he pointed out is that when we use our gobnicks, we have to find a way to replace them. The other jar represents the gobnicks of energy that you pay back or restore. We restore our energy or pay back our gobnicks by relaxing, meditating, or taking a quiet walk in the woods. Some people gain energy when they do some invigorating exercise. A talk with a friend or reading a good book can help us gain perspective and energy. These activities restore energy and refuel the body and mind. Whatever it is that creates peace or happiness will restore energy. Activities that involve judgment, analysis, work that is not in line with one’s passion, running or racing against time with a sense of urgency will deplete energy. And there needs to be a balance. Energy in and energy out and energy in and energy out. Balance would be a cookie jar that is at least half-full always. At times life will take more gobnicks. At those times you may need more meditation or quiet time.
If you don’t replace gobnicks of energy with tools for physical, emotional and spiritual replenishment, you will likely suffer from “burnout.” If you stay burned out, you will likely slip into a depression. If you allow life to take you this far on empty, it will take more energy to get back to a healthy state of being.
The key is to listen to your body and watch how you are using your mind. Awareness of energy levels is essential.
It would seem that vacations would replace gobnicks, but instead often they take much of our energy. Sightseeing involves thinking. Packing and running to airports, figuring out flight times and hotel arrangements all take a great amount of energy. On your arrival, you hurry up to have a darn good time. No sooner are you unpacked, you run out and catch the sunshine at the beach or climb mountains or enjoy every minute. You are still racing and running with a sense of urgency to get it all in. After all, when will you be back to experience this place? On returning home from vacation often our bodies and minds feel tired. In fact, often we are more tired than when we left, and the cookie jar comes back drained.
The most relaxing vacations are those where you stay at a beautiful bed and breakfast or a retreat facility and let time and energy guide your activities and schedule. On a retreat it is relaxing to build in prayer and quiet time; eat healthy foods and take long walks around the accommodations or in the woods. I usually go to bed early and wake up early. I journal and enjoy where I am and every moment of my time.
If I am traveling with my husband, we usually stay in bed and breakfasts, travel at our leisure, keep our plans open and enjoy the time together.
We walk a lot. Our bodies love the exercise. We also eat more rich foods on vacation, especially at breakfast. We enjoy our host’s recipe specialties and the company of other guests. We usually do some shopping without a sense of having to buy. Sometimes we attend a lecture in the area where we learn something new or hear an author or speaker who we may never experience in our area. We also go to bed early and rise at our leisure. We avoid doing any business on our vacations and seldom watch television or listen to the radio. We sometimes read a daily newspaper, but if we miss a day, we don’t feel a need to catch up. We enjoy each other in all ways- physically, emotionally and even spiritually.
You know when you’ve overspent your energy. The throat gets sore; your ear may hurt, which is usually a swollen gland and the signs that the immune system is weak. You may catch a cold and have symptoms because the body could not fight it. You may feel more tired and sleep later. Despite it all we often keep going as much as we can.
I do try to take an afternoon nap and pace myself throughout the day. I should do more yoga and meditation, but I am more likely to take a walk or journal-it seems my make-up likes to be “doing something” rather than just sitting.
I have many tools for stress management and balance. For me, this is the key to not breaking down. In fact, what I usually have are “ nervous breakthroughs” instead of nervous breakdowns. Even since childhood, I have only let myself be down for a few days. Inside I would fight back at whatever was getting me down. There was always something to bring me through. I would think of everything positive or bake a cake or call a friend.
When I was a young adult in nursing school, and later when I started working at my first jobs, stress took a toll on my body. I was diagnosed with various psychosomatic illnesses, but then I was not aware of healing techniques to relax my body and mind. It was not playtime anymore. I was studying or working and under much pressure to complete education and career goals. Exercise was the first tool I learned, but I also learned to overdo it. Later I found journaling, meditation, and yoga to be helpful tools. I also learned more about vitamins and herbs and holistic healing.
Recently someone said he thought I had more energy than most people did and that he bet I never got down or lost it. I explained that I did get down and just like everybody else I could use up my energy. However, I have learned to use my stress management tools before I burn out.
Being a Taurus, I often feel the bull in me – running with those horns out – going forward without looking to see who is in my way – and determined to go until something in my path stops me. I need to remind myself to restore those gobnicks.
That analogy I learned years ago is one of those pieces of advice that has always made sense. I have shared it with others, and it is so simple.