Some time ago, I attended a class on the Energization Exercises which was being taught to new students. A very brief introduction from the part of the teachers was finalized with the statement: “Remember, these are spiritual, not physical, exercises. We do them in order to meditate better, but they can’t in any way take the place of physical workout.”
Silently, I disagreed.
While I appreciated the point he was trying to make, I thought it wasn’t a great incentive for new students to care about practicing the exercises. After all, I thought, if I want to “meditate better,” I can resort to any of the other “tricks” we teach in the basic lessons, like, say, getting some wool and silk to sit on. That would not only be easier, but it would also save me fifteen minutes, which I can use to meditate!
I’ve been doing the energization exercises for more than thirteen years now, having started at the age of fifteen. Growing up with them was an incredible privilege and a great advantage, in that it made me more aware of how much of an impact they have had in my life.
From the very beginning, I was fascinated with Master’s teaching: “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy; the greater the flow of energy, the greater the magnetism.” To me, it seemed to promise untold possibilities, and it gave me a great incentive to explore these exercises as well as I could. As the years have gone by, I have become more and more convinced of one thing: through the energization exercises, anything is possible!
And so, I thought I’d present a short list with some of the benefits that the energization exercises can and will bring into a person’s life, if done well, ranging from the purely physical to the mystical, with plenty of in-between!
Great physical strength
Let’s get to this one first, since I’ve been itching to say it: even without the additional energy and willpower that these exercises bring, they can be a formidable form of physical training. I am no authority on the matter of the body, but I can state the facts as I’ve lived them: since the age of thirteen, I have not done any kind of regular physical exercise, and my work keeps me sitting by the computer all day long. Yet, I am very strong, for the sole reason that I energize.
One interesting thing about “energization muscles,” by the way, is that they become very soft and pleasant to the touch when relaxed, and very hard when tense. By comparison, my observation has been that “gym muscles” tend to be tense much of the time.
No need for coffee!
The energization exercises can get you up and running instantly, in a very natural way, which doesn’t involve the “crash” associated with caffeine “ups.” Granted, it takes an initial surge of willpower to decide to energize properly as one is just starting to wake up, but that also comes from practicing!
An ever-cheerful and light attitude
There are many ways to arrive at this, but let’s start with the obvious: even as going out to play sports, or going to the gym, helps a person feel happier, more cheerful, and gives a general sense of well-being, the same can be derived from the energization exercises, inasmuch as they can be a good workout.
But, true as that is, it is the smallest of the reasons why energization brings about this state. An increased flow of upward energy naturally brings greater cheerfulness. Also, the unclogging of energy blocks and clearing of the mind that follows one round of practice helps one feel much lighter, both physically and mentally.
Automatic weight balancer
This may sound strange, but I’ve found that when the body is filled with intelligent energy, through energization, it starts to regulate itself in a way that’s left me quite amazed, and taught me to trust my body to solve problems that one would normally trust to doctors or pills.
One thing that stands out among these is weight: I’ve found my body adjusting its functioning to help me gain or lose weight, depending on toward which side of the scale I’m leaning.
This one should go without saying. As most people know, it takes an effort of will only to get oneself to do the exercises every day. It takes a much greater effort of will to go through the full series unflinchingly, if done with full vigor. By making use of the will, we make it stronger.
But again, that is the most superficial, but easiest to see, aspect of it. In truth, one of the main points of energization is to will the energy into the precise body parts we’re tensing. Such an exercise in the application and control of willpower cannot but make itself be felt in one’s external life as well. The easiest way to learn to say “I will do this” and know nothing in the world can stop you from doing it, is to energize.
Greater ability to concentrate
This also should go without saying! After all, we pray “fill this mind with Thy concentration” before energizing. One wonders, however, what does energization have to do with concentration? As far as my experience goes, there are a few main ways in which concentration is helped:
First, the increased flow of energy toward the brain and the spiritual eye allow for increased mental power. This flow can become chaotic, however, and turn into restlessness very easily, if we weren’t also training the willpower to keep it focused.
Second, the exercises themselves require us to practice and train our concentration muscles, by keeping focused on the body part we’re energizing. It’s very, very easy to “fade out” while doing the physical movements: we can find ourselves being absent-minded and thinking about countless other things, or having a conversation with our friend next to us, or being distracted in any other thousand ways. Keeping watch over these things will train our concentration.
Third, the great surge of energy that flows through our astral body washes away blockages and clears the mind, just as a good flow of running water will clear the mud from our bodies. Our concentration will then greatly improve, because we’ve done away with useless things that stole our attention!
Energy awareness and control
To be able to be aware of, and control, our energy is one of the stated purposes of the energization exercises. We all have heard, and have examples, of how people have applied this principle in their lives, often during times of great need. I thought I’d share one story of my own which is very small but, I think, thought-provoking:
Some time ago, I gave away my mala and had to learn to count kriyas with my fingers. I felt uncomfortable, however, with the amount of movement that entailed. So, one day, I tried an experiment: from the spiritual eye, I sent out a bit of energy toward my ring finger, into the kriya count starting position. Immediately, that part of the finger started to throb. I asked the little “energy throb” to keep advancing through my fingers as I did my kriyas. Sure enough, every time I finished one kriya, the throbbing would shift toward the next position in the hand, effectively returning to the starting point after twelve kriyas were completed. At once, I knew that such a feat was possible only thanks to my practice of the energization exercises. I have counted my kriyas in this way ever since.
Heightened sensory perception
Now, people who know me know I’m blind as a bat, and also deaf! So, I’m not talking necessarily about physical senses here (although I’m sure energization can help with that, too), but about the subtle power of seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting.
The energy awareness spoken about previously is not limited to the energy within our bodies: rather, because we are more aware of the energy in our bodies, we are more aware of energy in general. One way in which this manifests is being able to “see,” “hear,” “feel,” “smell,” and “taste” the energy associated with the physical things we’re interacting with. Suddenly, colors are more bright, sounds are more melodious, smells more fragrant, etc.
Taking it further, one can “see” the different colors in the sunlight, or people’s energy auras, or the quality of a book; one can “hear” mantras springing from the sounds of nature in one’s surroundings; or “smell” different emotional states; or “taste” the energy qualities of the food one eats, and so on.
A straight spine and an open heart
The upward-moving flow of energy in the spine generated with the energization exercises, as well as the clearing out of blockages, automatically straightens our spine, which in turn opens the chest, leaving us in a naturally strong, dignified, and life-affirming physical position.
Instant remedy to moods
This is a natural extension of many of the things that were mentioned before. So, I’ll simply share an example of the very first time I found this out:
When I was twenty-one, I had my life planned out for the next ten years. Then, Swami Kriyananda came along and suggested I leave everything and join Ananda in India.
Of course, at the beginning, I was thrilled, but that very evening “reality” (notice the quotation marks!) started to hit me back: Is this the right choice? Can I separate from my loved ones? Can I leave behind the people who are financially dependent on me? How will I get the money to pay my student loan, travel and stay in India? Suddenly, the whole ordeal seemed impossible, and I sunk into fear and discouragement.
Like that, I went to bed. The next morning, I woke up late and I stayed in bed for a long time. Finally, after about an hour, I gathered myself up and went out to energize with all the vigor I was capable of. By the end of the energization, the clouds were gone and everything seemed bright again: I had made my decision to move to India, and I knew everything would work out somehow. That conviction never left me since then, for the two years it took me to actually move to India.
Something significant happened during the twenty minutes it took me to finish exercising: because my energy had been so low to start with, it took a great amount of willpower just to raise it enough to exercise vigorously and enthusiastically. Then, aided by this new openness of my mind and heart, the energy that filled my body took over, and washed away every trace of “down-ness” in my being. This works every time, if that initial “push” can be given.
Protection from the environment
This works on subtle, as well as material levels. As we build up our “energy muscles,” our aura becomes strong and is less likely to be negatively affected by the auras and influences around us. This applies physically as well: one is less likely to get sick, can go on longer periods without eating, is better able to withstand different climates, etc. Often, during cold weather, whether I spend the whole day wearing only a t-shirt, or whether I need to put on a pullover and shawl, is dependent of one factor only: did I energize in the morning or not?
We learn to “tense and relax” in life
That is the first basic rule of energization: “tense with will, relax and feel.” While we energize, we learn to put all of our will and our maximum tension into a specific body part, and then relax it completely. Through this repeated act, we soon realize that this principle can be applied to life in general.
The ability to apply energy and will when we need it, and to withdraw it when we don’t, is precious and priceless. Many people take the tensions of their work into their home life, into their sleep, into their vacations, etc. Other people are too relaxed most of the time, bordering on passive, and cannot but be ineffective when they try to get a job done. To “tense and relax” means to put our maximum and best effort into the job at hand, and to let it go completely when we’re not focusing on it. It means we can work for sixteen hours a day in order to meet a deadline, but come out relaxed and smiling at the end of the day.
This is just one example to get the point across. The principle of “tense with will, relax and feel” can be applied in countless other areas of life.
A solution for every situation
That’s an ambitious title! Yet, I firmly believe it to be true. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that seem to be “stuck”, in which no clear “good” option can be made out, or we find ourselves too emotionally involved to make a proper, right choice. In these situations, it’s often hard to take one step in any direction, because every path is covered by a dense mist, and we know many of those lead to a cliff. What can we do then?
One solution is: energize! A “stuck” or “unclear” situation can be made to move along and clear up by applying a great surge of energy to it. If we become highly charged dynamos of energy, the enormous magnetism we generate will make the situation evolve as much as we need it to, in order for us to see the clear best option before us.
I’ve used this trick several times in my life. One time in particular was especially dramatic:
Some time ago, I went through an emotional trauma that was deeper and more painful than anything I had ever experienced before. It involved at least a dozen people, all very close to my heart. It made me ask lots of questions about my attitude in life, and about how to deal with this particular situation in the right way. It also kept me constantly praying: “What do I do now?” and “Where will I live now?” Unfortunately, all the answers were invisible to me, and for many, many months I couldn’t move in any direction, as I found all the paths immediately got blocked when I tried to take them.
Normally, these kind of traumas and situations diminish in intensity as time goes on, and the solutions become more clear. This was not the case here: the situation got more and more intense and painful as the months went, and although slowly I learned to cope with it better and better, I couldn’t manage to overcome, or to find answer to my questions, no matter how valiantly I tried.
Finally, after months of untold misery with only brief respites, it occurred to me that I should start energizing three times a day, with every ounce of my enthusiasm, and refusing to think about the situation while I energized. After the end of the energization, when my whole body was teeming and throbbing with energy, I would send it out in a prayer to clear the clouds from my life.
One week is all it took! Not only was my inner struggle overcome and all the answers to my questions clear: the actual situation changed dramatically! Although still as painful as ever, somehow, during that week, many things (which were out of my control) changed outwardly: peoples’ life situations shifted, some doors opened, many doors closed, etc.; and so, that which what a week before had seemed like a hopeless labyrinth, now looked very much like a straight, clear path! The situation, even though it existed for a long time afterwards, never bothered me again.
I’ve seen this method work enough times to be completely convinced of its effectiveness. The principle seems to be the same as that which we use in our healing prayers: send energy, but be open and unattached to the shape that the results take. Energization makes it infinitely easier on both accounts.
Increased awareness and harmony with Nature
Master’s teachings tell us that everything is made of energy, and that we’re continuously exchanging energy with everything in our immediate physical and psychic environment. As we become aware of the energy within us, we can also become aware of the energy outside of us, and inside of other beings.
We can see a tree and know it’s alive because our teacher taught us in school, or we can see a tree and know it’s alive because we can feel the life within it, because we can feel it reaching out to us, and “hear” what it has to say.
Everything is teeming with life, and as we learn to live more in energy awareness, the barriers between us and the world around us start to dissolve and disappear, leaving us with a sense of being a blissful part of a much greater whole. Honesty, however, is a very important part of this equation.
Harmony with the flow of life
If we take on the previous item and expand on it, we can become aware of the currents of energy, or the currents of life, as they happen within and without us. We learn to recognize, by feeling, patterns of energy in people’s lives: where they come from, and to where they are headed. We can learn to recognize and feel present situations as results of past energy patterns, and the future situations that will result of present ones. We can learn to see the energy patterns of our own life, and navigate through them smoothly, as a boat that rises and falls with the waves, instead of crashing against them.
Taken further, we can feel the whole tapestry of life, whose treads go through light and shadow, dull colors and bright colors, but in their entirety create the most beautiful picture imaginable. Step by step, as our practice of energization helps us progress in our awareness of the energy within everything around us, this becomes possible.
Knowing that this is just the beginning
One of the most blissful facts about “discovering” energization is that the more we know, the more we realize that the whole picture of what’s left to discover is much vaster than we could have possibly imagined. Whereas this might seem discouraging at first sight, it truly is not: it is a blissful confirmation that life is full of infinite possibilities, and it’s only waiting for us to step up and go find them!
It helps our meditations
And finally, to go back to the beginning and close the circle, yes, energization definitely helps us to meditate! After everything that’s been said already, however, there’s no need to expand on this point: it’s rather self-evident!
When I realized that I wanted to write this blog, I sat down for five minutes to write every “benefit” of the energization exercises that came to the top of my mind. For the next two days, if something spontaneously sprung to my mind, I wrote it down as well. I made it a deliberate point to not sit and think about it, so that I could write about things which, to me, were so apparent, that I didn’t need to even try to find them. Things that I could speak about because I’ve experienced them, to greater or lesser degree, as a direct after-effect of doing energization, and could therefore write about with confidence.
Truly, none of the items I’ve listed should come as a shock. The stated purposes of the energization exercises, as I understand them, are: to learn to recharge our bodies with cosmic energy at will, and to learn to become aware and control the energy within our bodies. Everything I’ve written about are but natural extensions of this. And much more is left to discover! The possibilities are, indeed, endless, and there is no area of life which can’t be touched, helped, and enhanced by energization!
To close, I will mention one fun fact: when I sat down to write this full text, I first had to go through my “list of benefits” and shortlist it, as I had come up with too many things! So, I removed some of the items, and grouped others under a more general name tag. In the end, I chose seventeen of them in honor of a beloved friend, now deceased, who used to refer to the number seventeen (‘satrah’ in Hindi) as “Sat raha”: “Truth remains.”