Note: This short story won an Energy Expressions contest among Ananda Yoga teachers. Here’s what inspired the contest: There are many expressions in the English language—and many other languages—that directly reflect realities of the subtle (energy) body, even though the speaker might not know about prana at all. For example, expressions such as “I feel high” and “I’m on top of the world” reflect a state of mind that correlates directly with energy being located the upper portion of the body. Similarly, “I have a gut feeling about this” and “I have butterflies in my stomach” reflect an awareness of what is happening with energy in the midsection of the body. In Part 1 of the contest, we asked teachers to list as many of these expressions as they could think of. The judges then selected the best of those expressions and invited contestants to write a one-page story or essay that incorporated as many of those expressions as possible. Entries were judged both by the number of such expressions used and the overall quality of the story.

The sun peeped through the curtains casting a warm glow across my sleepy face. I woke with a surge of excitement running through me. It was my birthday! I jumped out of bed feeling on top of the world! The sun was shining, after a night of heavy rain, and the birds were singing their little hearts out. Oh, what a wonderful day!

This was also the day of a very important job interview, for which I had been preparing for the last couple of weeks. I felt a slight shiver go down my spine as I realised this was the moment I had been waiting for to make my dream come true.

I set off down the street walking tall, trying to keep my spirits high and not let the butterflies in my stomach take over my whole being. As I walked it began to rain, and I had not thought to bring a coat; the day had seemed so perfect when I first jumped out of bed on cloud nine. As I stepped to cross the road, thinking how bedraggled I would look at the interview, there was a screech of brakes and a car managed to stop within inches of me, the driver’s face red with anger as he shot accusing looks at me. I stood frozen to the spot. I had almost been killed, just because I had allowed my mind to wander to other places, other times, and neglect my body. I was shocked to the core. My birthday bubble was truly burst now! After apologising profusely and grovelling to the irate driver, I walked away feeling week at the knees, the colour drained from my face. I felt myself spiralling downwards into feelings of guilt and shame at being so stupid!

How could the day get any worse? But, no, I must not think like this! Today was an important day for me. I was determined to rise above all these little ups and downs in life. My face lit up when I caught sight of my best friend, Sophie, walking towards me. But almost immediately I could feel it in my bones that something was wrong, seriously wrong. She looked as if she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders as she bravely tried to speak to me, her words choked with emotion. Her dear mother had had a heart attack the day before while they were out shopping, and now her mother was fighting for her life in intensive care at the hospital. I felt my heart go out to her as she recounted the story, her eyes downcast and tears welling up as her emotions overflowed. It was so sad to see my normally happy, upbeat friend like this. I felt a lump in my throat as I gently explained that I really had to go, as I was in danger of being late for my interview, but I assured her that I would go round and visit later and lend her a shoulder to cry on.

Just then my bus hurtled past, drenching my smart clothes in muddy water from a nearby puddle! My heart sank. A feeling of dread arose in my stomach.

By the time I reached my interview I was already a half hour late. The receptionist was cold and unhelpful, looking down her nose at this dripping wet human specimen. She announced bluntly that I had missed my interview, and really I should make a bit of effort if I was serious about wanting a job. Part of me crumbled inside, and another part felt ready to explode. I had to bite my tongue to stop me shooting my mouth off at the receptionist, as all the frustrations of the day came to a head. Why couldn’t she lighten up? I did my best to bend over backwards trying to persuade her to give me another chance, but all to no avail. As I walked away I felt completely crushed. All my dreams were shattered. I felt hollow, like and empty shell.

I unlocked the door of my home and walked in, numb to the world, eyes vacant. A slight rustle should have alerted me to what was to come next, but my senses had closed down. It took the sudden lights and raucous singing of ‘happy birthday’ and the colourful sight of all my beloved friends and family to jolt me to my senses again. What a heart-warming sight! I felt the colour and life begin to rise again in my body; a weight began to lift gently, even joyfully, from my shoulders; my emotions welled up inside me, free at last to move and transform. I was among those who loved me again! I felt truly at home! The earlier part of the day quietly faded into a distant memory as I was enveloped in love and joy and laughter! What a wonderful day!

Liz’s thoughts on the genesis of her story

This story is completely fiction. However, each emotion and energy movement is familiar to me from past experiences, even if the details of the story differ.

I tried to think of how many different ways my energy could be pulled from centre as events in my life unfold around me, and designed fictitious events to clearly illustrate these feelings and energetic movements. I made it all happen in a day to show how “fickle” emotions can be, or how transient they are, as we can be deeply into one emotion one minute and then, just the next moment with a change of circumstance or attitude, be feeling something completely different. In a way it shows that we don’t need to fear emotions or feel bogged down or controlled by any specific emotions, as their very nature is movement and impermanence. I also liked the idea of coming back to some kind of peace and love at the end of the day, reminding us that we have the capacity for love and joy and connection at all times.

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