Artists have known it for ages, musicians tune into it daily, actors perform their magic from it, athletes master it to perfection, engineers build upon it, we are all made of it. Energy. It’s all about energy; how it forms and flows to manifest in consciousness as our experience. Energy is what matters. Literally.
What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter. (Albert Einstein)
We do not fully understand the concept of energy and how it contributes to life. In physics, energy is defined as the ability to do work. In psychology, energy is defined as the strength required for sustained physical or mental activity. It refers to ideas of vitality, power, and zest. Subjectively, energy can be experienced as high or low, positive or negative, good or bad.
Life is energy in action. Plants grow on sunrays, and we eat plants or animals to get their energy. We need it for all we do; stay alive and awake, walk and talk, eat and digest, love and fight, heat up and cool down, light our cities, manufacture goods and so on. We cannot create or remove energy, but we can direct it and transform it. If we are aware and know how.
Becoming energy conscious
When energy vibrates within certain frequencies, it becomes perceptible to the senses, receptive to the brain and conceivable to the mind. Sensations, emotions and thoughts are flows of energy and information that shape our existence. The subjective experience of energy formation and energy flow is the only reality we know.
Life itself can be described in terms of energetic activities; metabolic processes in the body and psychological processes in the mind. You are an energy being. Your mind, brain and body are nothing but energy manifesting as subjective experience and observable behavior. Realizing this opens new doors and you will experience the world as one coherent energy movement.
Being aware of existence
Consciousness is the beginning of everything. Without it there would be no experience. It’s the light on the stage and the space of the mind. It’s the canvas on which all images are painted and the background of all phenomena. Although it’s a constant of nature, our individual level of consciousness may vary a lot.
In neurology, altered states of consciousness include confusion, lethargy, stupor, and coma. Below normal consciousness, you could say. In psychology and spirituality, altered states of consciousness include meditation, lucid dreaming and trance. Beyond normal consciousness. These non-ordinary states allow us to view ourselves through a broader lens and from different angles of perception than the normal consciousness.
You know you are conscious when you are aware of being aware. You are present and in resonance with other parts of the whole. What you experience is energy taking a form that can be accessed and processed by the human brain and body.
Energy comes in many interchangeable forms: light, thermal, mechanical, gravitational, electrical, sound , chemical, atomic and so on. The energy is either moving (kinetic) or stored (potential). Although only the physical attributes of energy can be measured, metaphysical aspects like thought and feeling are central to human experience.
The energy is constantly transforming, everything is changing all the time. Forms appear and disappear in and out of existence. That’s the relative and unstable reality we have to adapt to and work with. One formation of energy (the subject) interacts with another formation (the object) to produce a third formation of energy (the experience).
Patterns of energy are forming all phenomena; thoughts, words, actions, your experience and behavior, the conditions and objects around you. Everything arises from the infinite potential, which you could say, is a storage of nothing waiting to become something. This non-existing potential is formless until the energy takes form, for instance as a thought. It will appear in your mind, be accepted or rejected, become more thought or maybe end the thought process, stay around for ever or quickly vanish.
Since Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote about it in his 1990 book, the term flow has been a hot topic in research, education, and business. Flow is defined as a deep state of concentration or total absorption with the activity or situation at hand. Of particular interest is the application of flow states to improve learning, creativity, and productivity at work.
Millennia before psychologists began to focus on states of flow, mindfulness practitioners introduced a philosophical concept of going with the flow of life. With the intention of becoming fully present, the meditator simply let go of the past and allow the future to emerge without interfering. Central to the experience of flow is acceptance of the present moment which requires the practice of non-judgment, non-attachment and non-resistance.
The psychological and philosophical definitions don’t reveal what is flowing. Their focus is more on the experience of flow than on its etiology. Energy is what flows, with or without our attention and intention. By carefully focusing our energy we can contribute to positive development in the workplace, in society and in the rest of the world.
Connected flows of energy
Energy is forming and flowing in interconnected circles. The personal energy is more or less under your control, at least it is your responsibility to manage it. The social energy you share with other people in the many life situations can be directly affected. The global energy that you share with all existing is also influenced by your actions, albeit weaker and often indirect.
Personal energy — what each of us is in charge of
Your energy defines you. Everything you are, do and become in life depends on how you manage your energy. It’s all interrelated. What happens in the physical dimension is immediately transformed to psychological dimensions. Insufficient sleep can lead to low mood, which in turn can cause headaches and further impaired sleep.
The quantity of energy in the physical dimension is influenced by sleep, diet and exercise. The quality of energy in the emotional dimension is associated with either positive or negative feelings. The focus of energy in the mental dimension is linked to giving appropriate attention to the task at hand. The force of energy in the spiritual dimension points to how meaningful and purposeful life is to you.
Energy is not only needed for our doing; it’s also core to our being. The cells in our body are constructed from molecular building blocks of protein, fat and sugar assembled from atoms, which in essence are energy fields of elementary particles. All systems in the body, from the atomic to the molecular level, are constantly in motion-creating resonance.
Social energy — what we share between us
Have you ever entered a room low in energy? Or high? It just feels different. The sum of personal energies in a room becomes the atmosphere. What happens in the neural synapses is correlated to what happens in the social synapses. The social synapse is the information space we share between us, the medium through which we grow into families, tribes, societies and the human species.
The world of relationships is the natural habitat of our social brains. When we interact, we are impacting each other’s internal state, influencing both short term brain configuration and long term brain development. We are shaping ourselves, each other and the world through the exchange of energy.
To work together we must see and hear each other, give space, stand side by side and mutually offer our help. Only in this way, the whole will become bigger than the sum.
Global energy — what we share with all existing
The energy system influences human life on all levels, from electromagnetic energy in sunlight to the chemical energy released by the mitochondria during metabolism. Our mind, brain and body are participatory elements of an enormous ongoing energy circulation.
We live in a nested reality of a complex system where the life of each agent unfolds in a series of finely interwoven events. A minor incident in one end of the system can have a major impact in the other. A phenomenon known as the butterfly effect. Something we can expect to happen but not predict how, where and when.
This dependence on the initial conditions and minor fluctuations becomes all the more evident the more virtual, instantaneous and remote our interactions on the Internet become. We are interconnected in ways that make even the smallest choices, potentially game changing.
Fortunately, the local deviations and inaccuracies most often outweigh each other. More important is the summing up of actions to reach a tipping point in the system, signifying a critical point after which the system shifts radically and potentially irreversibly into a different equilibrium state.
The energy perspective
Energy consciousness makes us understand that all is energy and everything is connected. You and I, all of us, are part of the universal flow whether we are aware of it or not. Studies of complex systems have demonstrated the interdependency in dramatic ways. No one is alone in this world. No act is without consequences for others. We are in this together.
What matters is the forming and flowing of energy. Since personal, social and global energy is interconnected, everything and everyone is both influencer and influenced. We are all attractors and mediators. With our attention, we can focus the energy. With our intention, we can form it and direct the flow.
The physical aspects of energy are detected by our senses and perceived as sensations and feelings. The psychological aspects appear in the conscious mind as thoughts and emotions and in the unconscious mind as intuitive knowing and instinctive reactions. When fully conscious, we can perceive what is, conceive what is not, and receive what is beyond imagination. In this way, we change from victims and adapters to creators and integrators.
The energy perspective of work is holistic. The personal, social, and global energy flows must resonate and be synchronized for something to happen in an orderly and desired manner. Sustainability must be firmly anchored in everything we do. Work must transform from ego-driven to eco-driven. This is the inevitable conclusion from the energy perspective.
Go full circle
The future of work could be different from now. Perhaps it has more to offer than purpose, pay and promotion. Perhaps it can be even more meaningful and fulfilling. Perhaps we could work for other reasons and in other ways. As we become more energy conscious we may realize work could actually be a way to heal the world. Changing work could change the world.
To establish a balanced flow of energy we need to go all the way round and all the way out. The main challenge is to replace the make-use-waste dogma with a reduce-reuse-recycle philosophy. Sustainability comes from transforming the linear win-win thinking into a full circle mindset. A generally shared circular model of work will be an important step towards making people and planet profit.
Be one for all
Most business motives are personal and tribal. As a company or team, we want to win, often at the expense of others. Competing for dominance is the ultimate driver. In the ruling paradigm, the recipe for success is strategic thinking, market intelligence and behavioral design. The us-versus-them mentality turns other people into opponents and enemies. Saving profit is more important than saving the planet.
However, more and more of us recognize that sustainable solutions cannot be exclusive, but must be inclusive. Competition is not the killer app anymore — collaboration and partnering is. Instead of keeping others away from our value creating circles, we invite them in. Which makes sense, since we all share the same global challenges and the same destiny if we cannot find ways to solve the problems.
Share it all
The energy perspective unites us not only with fellow human beings and other living organisms, but with all existing and non-existing. From the Big Band to the present day, the universe has expanded. Seemingly separate and different entities have the same origin. We are created from the same material.
Your body is a community of cells. Each cell is a self-organizing system with a complex organization. All building materials, the atoms and molecules, are borrowed from the Earth. They are constantly replaced and recirculated. The body you have today is different from the one you had a few years ago. When you die, your body disappears, but the basic elements will still be circulating.
Sharing energy makes us care and dare. The more we feel as part of the whole, the more meaningful and fulfilling the life experience becomes. The “HumTech” era is here. Finally, we can realize the world we want. As we learn to more consciously balance the flow of energy, tech and work will have the power to heal the world.
Besides energy consciousness, the New Work Paradigm proposes four other themes that could be studied more closely: human connection, conscious innervation, unlimited experiment and leading light.