When we consider the way we take in and expend energy in our lives, we start by looking at food as the source of energy. Food represents the conversion of solar energy into biological energy through the medium of photosynthesis and (for those who eat animal foods), the conversion of the plant material into animal flesh through eating by the animal. The ultimate source of energy from food is therefore the sun. Yet as we dive into a deeper understanding of the universe within which we live, we understand that there are other forms of energy at work in the world, including cosmic radiation, decay of material elements through radioactivity, tidal motions, electrical energy in the form of static electricity and powerful electrical bolts of lightning, all working on the physical plane, but also we find that there are vital and emotional energies that we can experience as a surge of vigor (or in the opposite case, a draining of our energy). Even on the mental level, we receive packets of information in an energetic medium. The very cells of our body contain miniature energy-producing elements that convert the physical substance of food, broken down into basic components, into electrical energy to power all our physical, vital and mental functions.
There are various experiences in our lives that show us that not all of our life-energy results from food. Some of the other forms of energy actually impact our vitality and, for those who gain an understanding and apply it to energy, there are ways to circumvent food as the primary energy source. While this may impact the physical structure, the energetic vital force and the mental power may actually be enhanced as we rely more on the subtler energetic sources.
Besides the intake of energy, it is important to look at the corresponding expenditure of energy. There must be a balance between the two or breakdowns may result. It is also essential to avoid strong energy-draining forces, including interactions with people who leave one feeling empty and drained!
The Mother observes: “It [reserve of energy] depends on the capacity to receive the universal vital force; because in fact, through food also it is these vital forces one receives but one receives them from below. But in order to have reserves you must know how to receive the universal vital forces constantly and to have a kind of balance in the being which prevents you from spending more than you have.”
“A proportion has to be kept between the receptivity and the expenditure. It is a kind of harmony in the being which must be established. Only, some people have an almost instinctive power of attracting towards them the vital forces or absorbing them — the universal vital forces, I mean — and so they make up their expense as they go along spending. These people can produce much more than others. Some of them, in certain conditions like sleep or a kind of repose or relaxation, can accumulate forces and later they exhaust them, so to say, in their activities and they must yet once again charge the battery afterwards — this is already a much less favourable condition.”
Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, General Methods and Principles, Recuperating One’s Energies, pp. 17-22