Energy—any kind of energy—is like money. It has value, and it’s generally considered a good thing if you have a lot of it. Energy may diminish, like money does, when care is not taken. Like an abandoned savings account, energy stagnates when ignored. Similarly, just as you can invest in your savings and make it grow, you can also invest in your energy
Yoga has many terms for spiritual energy. You might hear it called prana, Kundalini, Shakti or life force. Don’t be confused by the many different labels. Spiritual energy, by any name, abides in every atom of the universe, from stones to humans. It always exists in some form, often potential or dormant.
Today I’m referring to the spiritual energy that exists in you—right now. This energy keeps you alive. It makes your heart beat and digests your food. It nourishes you along the spiritual path. It’s intelligent and feeds you in ways that make you grow spiritually. It works both inside and outside your physical form and clears the path for your progress.
How Does Spiritual Energy Begin?
We are born with a certain amount of spiritual energy. In fact, from the moment our hearts begin to beat in our mothers’ wombs, this energy has been granted. When we take our first breath, it’s like the touch of Divine Consciousness, giving us life. This gift of energy sustains life and the body’s functions. It continues until we die.
As we grow and develop on the spiritual path, we make choices in our lives leading us to or away from growth. Moving toward growth increases our spiritual energy; moving away from it decreases it. It’s as simple as that—just like math.
How Spiritual Energy Decreases
The spiritual energy that helps us on our path can be depleted. Excessive or negative thinking is the primary cause. That includes the whole gamut: anger, fear, worry, depression, and low self-esteem. But it’s easy to dissolve such thoughts with a consistent meditation practice. As meditators, we observe all thoughts passing through the mind, whether during our practice or during the day. We don’t dwell on negative thoughts—we observe them and send them on their way. Usually this means replacing them with something positive and uplifting, like a positive affirmation or a mantra.
Another way spiritual energy decreases is when we keep company with people who think negatively. Of course, we don’t want that negativity to rub off on us, but it inevitably does.
Narada’s Bhakti Sutras, a devotional scripture, warns us:
Shun evil company, by all means. Evil company should be shunned, because it leads to lust, anger, delusion, forgetfulness of the goal, and ultimate ruin. (VI: 43-44)
The term company doesn’t apply only to people. Anything that we expose our minds to is a type of company. Consider how watching news media affects your mental state. When you watch a scary or violent movie, does that make you feel more peaceful? Of course not.
Any activity that makes your mind restless depletes valuable spiritual energy. Learn to be aware of those activities and their effects. Awareness is always the first step to change. Once you know what’s affecting your thoughts you can begin to change them, one at a time, as they occur.
How to Increase Spiritual Energy
This energy increases when we meditate. Other spiritual practices, such as mantra repetition and scriptural studies help our meditations. They make it easier to stay centered.
Spiritual energy also increases when we lead a pure and wholesome life. When we put others’ needs before our own wishes, the energy grows. In other words: behaving selflessly or compassionately towards others increases our spiritual energy.
Surround yourself with friends and family who are generally cheerful and positive. Spend time with those who share your ideals. And, especially, allow for regular times of solitary contemplation. The best company you can keep is with your highest, inner Self.
The Bhagavad Gita (aff link) lists many things that help us increase our spiritual energy. Here are a few from Chapter 16:
- Purity of heart
- Acts of charity
- Control of senses
- Study of scriptures
- Spiritual practices
- Absence of anger, hatred
- Compassion toward all beings
- Lack of greed and desire
- Absence of pride
Spiritual energy flourishes when we work to increase these fine qualities. Think good thoughts. Do good deeds. Peace and happiness will arise spontaneously, and you can be sure that your spiritual energy will increase.
Chityānanda has been a disciple of Svāmī Gurupremānanda Sarasvatī since 1975. She teaches meditation and yoga as a spiritual path in Santa Cruz, California.