What kind of milk carton are you?

Imagine two full milk cartons. Now imagine punching holes in one of the milk cartons. The milk is pooring out, and doesn’t stop until it has reached the lowest hole. Your assignment is to fill the carton with milk again, to the top. What do you do? I imagine you would think of a way to close the holes, as there would be no use in pooring milk in a carton with holes. No matter how hard you would try, you wouldn’t be able to fill it.

Think of your mind as the milk carton and your emotional energy as the milk. Think of vibrant people you may know. I bet they’re appreciative, powerful, full of life, they never seem to complain, they laugh a lot and nothing ever seems too much. In their presence, the world feels brighter and you always leave them feeling better about yourself. They’re the full cartons of this world. Think of the not so vibrant people you may know. They most likely don’t laugh as much, they complain and worry more, they feel irritated and dissapointed more easily. Life doesn’t seem to be as good around them. They often think of their carton as half empty, and with good reason, because it is.

Having a full or whole carton means your energy is contained within the boundaries of the carton. It doesn’t go anywhere, unless you want it to. And energy spent can be easily replaced again. However, it’s human to have a punched carton. The real question is not about whether we have holes, it’s about the position and the size of those holes. From the age of 7 or so, I remember having had a rather severly punched carton. These weren’t minor dents I had in my carton, but medium to big-sized holes. And they weren’t at the top of carton either, they were at least halfway down, sometimes even near the bottom. A lot of the time they were so big, they were not only draining my emotional energy, but my physical energy too. In these last years I have learned to locate those leaks and close them.

Yesterday, I had an acute energy leak, which nowadays usually manifests itself as acute tiredness, resulting in impatience, frustration, snapping and not too uplifting thoughts. In that condition, it took me over half a day to recognize this wasn’t a normal physical tiredness. Finding the leak and stopping the leakage actually took less than half an hour. After that, my energy was back and up again within the hour, brimming. Finding energy leaks and restoring them is a mental and physical job. And unless you feel joyous, appreciative, loving and empowered all the time, it is one I higly recommend.

The next time you feel bored, frustrated, irritated, worried or discouraged, instead of expressing it outwardly, turn inward and feel what is going on in your body. Sometimes it is obvious, mostly it is not. Feel the sensations, however unpleasant they may be. It may be the contraction of your muscles, the rushing of your blood or a certain numbness. Focus on what you’re feeling by simply directing your awareness to where you sense any offness. Now, use your intuition, ask yourself what this feeling is about, and trust your hunches however strange they may seem, they’re accurate about 100% of the time. Once you have determined the location of the hole, it is time to restore it. Most likely, thinking of the subject of your offness will make you feel even more off, with your thoughts and emotions stuck in a negative loop and your energy gushing out. Simply asking you to stop what you’re doing, won’t help. It’s like asking you not to think of a pink elephant. What I want you to do instead is find a new thought on the subject, one that causes a bit of relief. Relief will manifest itself as the relaxation of your muscles, a slower heart beat, tingling where there was numbness. You will feel slightly better. Then next, you find another thought that will make you feel slightly better, and another.

This process involves small steps. Knowing the steps involved isn’t that important, it is learning to feel the subtle distinctions between thinking thoughts that make you feel off and thoughts that make you feel good, between thoughts that cause leaks and thoughts that restore leaks. With sustained practice, the holes in your carton will be restored from the bottom up. With every leak you close, it will be easier to manage your energy level. You will feel better about your life, about yourself.

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