Mindfulness and energy

Vintage gasoline pump

Have you ever noticed that when you are with some people you feel energized and when you are with other people your energy is drained?

Do you have a difficult time saying “no” when someone requests something from you, and then find yourself feeling exhausted and resentful?

Do you put your own responsibilities on hold in order to do things for other people?

Have you been, or are you now, feeling like there are not enough hours in the day to do all that you need to do? Are you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted?

If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, mindfulness can help you to be aware of how, and with whom, you expend your energy and therefore take better care of yourself by using your energy wisely.

There is an organization I have belonged to for eighteen years. I believe in the mission of this organization because it changes peoples’ lives for the better. It has changed my life for the better.

Over the years I have been happy to do whatever I could to see the organization thrive, including: fundraising, listening to people who are going through difficult times, teaching classes, catering for events and attending more meetings than I can count.

Because there were so many things that needed doing, and I believed in those things, and I knew I could do what was needed and do it well, I had a difficult time saying “no”. After so many years of doing so much, my energy was drained.

And I was exhausted. When I woke up in the morning I did not feel rested. I knew that exercising would help me feel more energetic, but I felt too tired to exercise, I just wanted to stay in bed as long as I could each morning.

When I became aware of the decisions I was making, in terms of how I was spending my time and expending my energy, I started to decline “invitations” to take on more and more responsibility  – but it wasn’t easy.

People were used to having me take on more and more work. It was difficult to say “no” but I realized I needed to take care of myself as well as caring for others.

In fact, I realized that unless I took care of myself, I could not take care of other people wholeheartedly.

Is it time for you to become mindful of how you expend your energy in terms of what you do and who you spend time with?

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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Ann Becker-Schutte
    May 3, 2011 11:39 pm

    Such good stuff coming from Wildmind today! I can’t wait to share this. I am always thrilled to find writing that affirms self-care as our foundation.

  • I’m constantly amazed how my current train of thought is simultaneously echoed in the Wildmind blog! I suffer from ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and have come back to meditation after a lapse in practising – and Wildmind has been a real ray of light; I feel as if at long long last I have been given a tool-kit to map out a way forward. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made.
    For people who have ME/CFS everything depends on pacing, and on respecting your own needs in order to conserve energy and build on what energy you have. (The typical sufferer is often the sort of person you describe yourself as being, and the disease though still not properly understood is believed to involve damage to the hypothalamus). I was in touch recently with the editor of a newsletter for people with ME who had written an article himself, in which he said ”this of course is our problem with pacing – we simply don’t even know how to truly rest in mind, body and soul.’ I wrote to tell him of some of my recent discoveries about mindfulness and meditation, and of course to tell him about Wildmind. Thank you to all of you who write so clearly and honestly, and share your experiences with such generosity.

  • Thank you Ann and Deborah for your comments ~

    Deborah – it is wonderful to know you are meditating again and what you say about pacing and respecting our own needs is so important to remember. Thanks for the quote “resting the mind, body and soul … ” yes indeed!

  • […] Saddhamala at the Wildmind Buddhist meditation practice blogs gave us a lovely exploration this week of how easy it is to get overextended. In this exploration, she invites us to be mindful of when we say yes, and give ourselves permission to say no. I appreciate the reminder that how I use my energy IS under my control, and mindfulness of this can help me be a more compassionate, engaged person: “Mindfulness and Energy” […]

  • I recently read a quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn about mindfulness and time management that inspired this:


    I use this now when I’m having a hard time saying no.

  • Here we are at August, 2013 and I am encouraged by your thoughts and experience shared in May of 2011. I identify very much with this tendency to get “burned out” which is mostly due to my difficulty of knowing the limitations of my physical and emotional energy. I have often been involved in a lot of “helping projects” until I get drained and then find myself unable to follow through with commitments that seemed quite easy to make a month before. I am learning to pace myself and be more careful with my personal energy. Thank you.

  • […] mentality with which we pursue what matters, how well do you think these ideas will be implemented? Mindfulness and energy are key components to a healthy, balanced way of being for […]


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