Forward Moving Energy

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Forward Moving Energy

In physics, energy is defined as the capacity to do something, to cause movement or change.  It is potential, and it is in everything around us, including ourselves.  When our universe began, it was a vast ocean of formless energy.  It may have seemed empty, but in fact it was full of possibilities.  Then, one step at a time, those possibilities began to take shape: what already existed was rearranged to create something new.  Atoms emerged, then chemical elements… stars, planets… and finally, life.

Now, our world is made up of the same energy that has always existed, just in the unique configuration we see around us.  But that configuration is always changing, as energy shifts from one form to another (like ice to water to steam) and combines with other energy to create new and unexpected things (like hydrogen and oxygen make water itself).

In this sense, forward moving energy is a law of nature.  Energy keeps shifting and evolving in the universe, whether we like it or not and whether we do anything about it or not.  Yet we can choose how we use our energy, into what forms we convert it.  In doing so, we can create change, can propel ourselves forward into new realms.  And in doing so, we can see the true nature of the universe.  We can realize that we are riding the waves of the ocean of energy—always the same, yet always moving forward, taking new forms.       

One way we can experience an energy shift is by physically moving forward.  In physics, a classic example is a ball rolling across the floor—the faster it rolls, the more of its energy is converted from stored to expressed.  Like the ball, we too can move forward on our yoga mats.  When we flow through a vinyasa series, we express energy outward.  And something new and magical happens when we become wholly swept up in that movement:  with each breath we slide from one moment to the next, always in the present with no thought of the past or future.  We are neither stalling nor rushing, simply moving forward.  

We can experience the same flow off our mats, when we engage in any activity.  When we lose ourselves in the expression of energy doing anything we love, we lose all concept of time.  In these moments, we so appreciate the present that moving forward on our wave of energy is almost like flying.

Yet we can also experience forward moving energy not by moving forward, but by standing still.  In physics, heat is another form of expressed energy.  And when we hold a yoga pose past the point of discomfort, we too can create an inner fire, or tapas.  That heat then burns a path into a new world, the next moment, where we realize we are capable of more than we thought.  

To create heat on your mat, keep in mind that the moment you want to come out of a pose is the moment to challenge yourself to stay in it.  Ask yourself:  how much of your desire not to leave your comfort zone is driven by fear of failure?  And remember that the moment you choose to persist, you quiet the part of you saying “I can’t” by showing it that you can.  When you see what you can do, that’s when you have a breakthrough, when your energy creates something new.  You shift from struggling to shining (and not just with sweat ;)), and when you finally come out of the pose, you are buoyed forward by the positivity you created.

You can experience the same shift every time you push yourself outside your comfort zone.  This doesn’t mean taking physical risks—it simply means, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “do[ing] the thing you think you cannot do.”  For you, could it be smiling at a stranger who looks sad?  Submitting a short story you wrote to a competition?  Apologizing to a friend?  Signing up for a half marathon?  However you embrace the discomfort of stepping across your own boundaries, they are almost certain to dissolve from solid to steam, disappearing behind you.

Every time you step onto your yoga mat, let it be an opportunity to remember the true nature of things, to become aware of your own energy and to use it to shape this ever forward-moving universe.  As Albert Einstein taught us, “Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”