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When Did That Happen?

The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed - only converted from one form of energy to another.

Every morning I sit. These sits began as 10-minute exercises in letting go, listening, and trying to just be. But over the years, these sits have gone from an activity I begrudgingly endured, to a practice I incorporated into my morning routine, to a full 45-minute Happiness Habit daily ritual.

With the New Year and my newly resolute wayfinding practices (See blog post A Resolute 2022) on my mind, I was sitting and thinking about my stated goal to “connect wholeheartedly.” Now honestly, I’m not really sure what that means or how I am going to do it, but I know you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So, I am just going to trust that by stating my intention, Creation will lead the way with crumbs for me to follow.

So, as I was sitting, thinking about connecting wholeheartedly, I began to recite a favorite Buddhist prayer/mantra:

May you be at peace

May your heart remain open . . .

I got no farther than these first two lines when my mind wandered, and my internal dialog began:

Me: Thats it! I can become wholehearted by keeping my heart open.

Mind: Well, that’s lame. When did it close?

Me: When did it close? I’m not sure, but it must have if I am trying to keep it open.

Mind: Maybe it has always be closed and you just don’t realize it.

Me: What? Is it even possible to re-open my heart? It worked for the Grinch.

Mind: Good luck with that.

The good news in meditation and prayer is that, when your finally realize that your mind is wandering, you simply start again.

But I just could not start again.

All I could think of was how I was going to get my heart to open and stay open. Having just gone through an exercise of defining what made me the happiest, (See blog post Creating Happiness) all I could think of was me, reflected in the pictures of my youth, as happy, creative, laughing, active . . . alive and connected.

So, what happened? Maybe, I reasoned, if I figured out when it happened, when my heart starting closing, I could undue it.

I should know by now that there are no easy answers, just crumbs to help me work out the answer for myself.

The next day, I was listening to a podcast when the interviewee, in passing, made reference to the Law of Conservation of Energy—as if everyone knew what that was. I didn’t, so off I went in search of an explanation:

The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed—only converted from one form of energy to another.

Energy? Like what—fossil fuels, solar, wind? Trying to figure out what the “energy” in the law of conservation of energy was made me think of Nikola Tesla, who said:

If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.

Now to be fair, this Tesla quote was only on my mind because I stumbled upon it as I was learning about Bhakti yoga and the practice of kirtan.

Yet another crumb trail . . .

Kirtan (Sanskrit: कीर्तन; IAST: Kīrtana) is a Sanskrit word that means “narrating, reciting, telling, describing” of an idea or story.

Kirtan, I learned, is the practice of a call and response form of singing prayer where Sanskrit mantras are used. This was of interest to me for two reasons. First, because the bhakti practice believes that when you are (i) listening to the mantra (call) and (ii) singing it back (response), there is no room for the mind to wander. It is a way into mindfulness. A way to connection. I was also interested because of the belief that each Sanskrit word used in the mantras has a frequency, and within that frequency is the energy to heal and make whole. Energy that could unite. Connection and wholeness—just what I am looking for.

And there was my answer, in the collision of these two crumb trails.

Energy, which can only be converted from one form to another, holds the power to create, unite, and make whole. This idea made total sense when I simplified “energy” down to “positive energy” and “negative energy.” In other words, I could create positive energy from negative energy. But likewise, I could create negative energy from positive energy.

Could it be that my heart was closing every time I let my positive energy be converted into negative energy?

Well, one thing for sure, that has to stop.

But how? I have always considered myself a positive person, so where is the negativity coming from?

The answer is a one-word answer—fear.

From my earliest days in Corporate America, we were taught the Dale Carnegie principle:

First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it.

With this principle in mind, we used risk analysis to define the worst that could possibly happen, then made plans with how to deal with it. We would focus time and energy working through all of the possible permutations and combinations of outcomes trying to determine which potential outcome was the worst. Risk created fear. But did it?

F.E.A.R. = false evidence appearing real

Looking back, I want to scream at my naïve younger self—why focus on the negative? You could just have easily asked: What is the best that can happen? Then prepare to accept that.

As soon as I heard myself say the words—they knew their truth. I had been managing my life by trying to reduce risk. I was careful, always running cost/benefit/risk analyses in my head to make the best (i.e. lowest risk) decision. This simple act was the reason I always turned my attention to and focused on the negative, ever so subtly turning the positive of the opportunity into the search for the worst possible negative outcome.

To keep my heart open and to connect wholeheartedly, I have only once choice, to stay focused on the positive. I simply have to say Yes! to life, and then ask myself, “What is the best that can happen?”And then be prepared to accept it.

With risk there comes great reward. And I, for one, can’t wait!



PS. How do you keep your heart wide open? Please add your comments.

Image by "3D Newtons Cradle" by

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