Energy is what you become aware of when you stop talking. When you stop talking listening becomes possible. We listen on many levels simultaneously. One level, of course, is listening to the words that another says. Deeper than that, we can use our bodies to listen for the emotions beneath the words. And even deeper than that, we can tune in to the energetic level.
If we accept that one of the main purposes of practicing yoga has to do with bringing ourselves back into a harmonious relationship with life, then being aware of one’s own energy field will reveal to us, immediately and viscerally, where the blockages to that harmony are.
When practicing asana the process, in and of itself, will affect your energy field by naturally shifting its movement. If the breath is your guide you can focus your attention on particular blockages and invite a release through the use of bandha and pranayama. And the more developed your listening is, the more your practice will enhance your awareness of the energy movement through your body. It’s a perfect virtuous circle: the process enhances the awareness and the awareness supports the process.
In addition, for those of you reading this article who are yoga teachers, why this is also important is that you can’t work with people until you’ve got their attention. And you won’t have their attention unless and until they experience that you sense where they are, especially where they are energetically. Our energy introduces us even before we begin to speak. Therefore, anyone seriously interested in pursuing a yoga practice or guiding others to do so would want to cultivate a nuanced ability to listen for energy, one’s own as well as that of others.
So, the obvious next question is: “How does one cultivate a listening for energy?” In my experience, this begins with a willingness to be in silence. The silence I mean is not just the absence of noise. It is not the silence between the words, but the stillness behind them. It is a stillness of the heart, the kind of stillness that can touch another heart.
If the first step is to stop talking so as to be able to listen, then the second step is to be curious without demanding an immediate response; that is, not so much to seek the energetic presence as to be open to being found by it. After that it’s all just a dance!
photo credit by: Mattia Vacca