force is the key to our survival. Without it, we
cease to exist. Our life force, which the Chinese
call chi, the Japanese call ki, and Ayurveda
calls prana, has been described as the vital energy
that breathes life into our bodies. Our life force
is the guardian of our minds, our bodies, and our
souls. Asking this Right Question--"Will this
choice add to my life force or will it rob me of my
energy?"--allows us to see whether the choice we are
about to make will strengthen our life force and support
us in keeping our inner flame roaring, strong, and vibrant
or will rob us of vital energy. We each have a
choice, and with each action we either feed or starve our
life force. This question immediately reminds us
that every choice, decision, and action we take has an
impact on our deepest selves and our sense of well-being.
us take our life force for granted. We unconsciously
go about our lives thinking that we are immortal, taking
our health for granted and ignoring the needs of our
bodies. But in the moments when we are fully awake,
we can't help but feel and appreciate the great gift that
has been bestowed on us--the gift of being alive. If
each of us were present to how precious our life force is,
we would care for it as we would a newborn child. We
would live in awe of the miracle of our existence.
When we are awake to the preciousness of life, we go
through our days respecting the fact that our life force
needs feeding and nourishment. We automatically ask
ourselves how we can take care of and protect this
Each day we are faced with a multitude of choices.
We decide what we will eat, how much rest and exercise we
will give our bodies, and at what pace we will go about
our daily activities.
Each choice we make
either adds to our life force or robs us of our vitality. In
essence we are either growing or dying, expanding or
contracting. Every time we make a choice to nurture our life
force, we choose life. Each time we choose actions that drain
us of our energy, we are weakening our internal flame.
It's so easy to
forget that our bodies are a delicate gift--a temporary home for our
souls. It's usually only in times of great pain--such as when
we are faced with the death of a loved one or a serious
illness--that we are aware of the impermanence of life. In
those moments when we come face-to-face with our own mortality or
that of our loved ones, we become profoundly aware of how important
it is to make choices that strengthen, rather than deplete, our life
When our life force
is threatened, we desperately look to the outer world to regain our
lost vitality. Anne is a good example of this. Anne had
spent the past seventeen years running around aimlessly trying to
get her life together. Plagued by intense loneliness, she went
from husband to husband and boyfriend to boyfriend, only to wind up
at age fifty without a mate. For years she smoked marijuana
and cigarettes in an attempt to numb her deep emotional pain.
Over the years, whenever I met with Anne, I sensed this pain.
Anne knew that not only was she a disappointment to herself but she
was setting a horrible example for her two now-grown children, whom
she loved dearly.
desire was to be a great mom and have her children respect
her. But she had failed miserably at her goal. When the
pain became too great for her to bear, Anne finally committed to
looking at her life with clear eyes. She knew there was no way
she could be a nourishing influence on her children if she continued
making choices that diminished her vitality. Anne made a list
of all the behaviors she had been engaging in that were robbing her
of her life force. Her list looked like this:
- I wake up late in
- I go from job to job, never sticking with anything.
- I smoke pot regularly.
- I smoke cigarettes.
- I hide my behavior from my children.
- I procrastinate paying my bills.
- I show up late.
- I don't keep up with my personal commitments.
- I try to pretend I have it together when I don't.
- I flake out on my children.
- I constantly reprimand myself for all of my bad behaviors.
It was easy for Anne, in reading over her list, to see that she was
draining herself of her life force and that a part of her was dying
every day because she was choosing behaviors and taking actions that
were really self-destructive. She had known about this for
some time but had not been able to change her behavior. When
she saw the items on her list simply as those things that didn't
enhance her life force, and not as proof of how worthless she was,
her perspective began to shift.
Examining the list, Anne started thinking, "If this is what
drains me of my energy and thus my ability to change, what would
create the opposite?" With a lot of courage and some help
from friends, Anne made a new list--of choices that would strengthen
her life force. Making the commitment to live her life in a
way that was consistent with her vision of being an extraordinary
mother and grandmother, she came up with a list of choices that
supported her newfound resolve:
- Stop smoking.
- Go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
- Hire a life coach.
- Eat foods that nourish my well-being.
- Read daily meditations.
- Move closer to my children.
- Listen with genuine interest to my children's needs and respond
- Spend quality time with my grandson.
In less than six months Anne's world began to shift. Instead
of feeling like a failure and hating herself, she began to feel
fully alive again. Her children responded generously by
recognizing the shifts that she had made and acknowledging her as a
vastly improved mother and a devoted grandmother.
If we keep this question in mind while planning our days, we will
see that we actually have countless opportunities to add to our life
force. Being around people and places we love and doing things
that give us deep satisfaction, taking time to digest the events in
our lives, being less busy, telling the truth, laughing a lot,
eating right, exercising regularly, having long talks with those we
love--these are among the best ways to nourish our vitality.
Our life force thrives when we are completely engaged in the present
realities of the life we live today are a
result of the choices we made yesterday, three
months ago and three years ago. But we don't
wind up $50,000 dollars in debt because of one
extravagant purchase. Nor do we put on 30
unwanted pounds as a result of a couple of
decadent meals. We are where we are because of
repeated unconscious choices made day after
day. Ford cuts right through our denial with
the 10 questions that immediately reveal the
true motivations behind our thoughts and
actions. But more than that, by rigorously and
honestly asking and answering these 10 vital
questions, we regain control and have the
power necessary to create the life we always