I was watching a video by business maven Marie Forleo about what to do if you’ve lost the spark of passion when it comes to your work, and she said something that really struck me. She cautioned about talking your business ideas to death, because it can give you a false sense of satiation. Almost like, well, I’ve talked about this to everyone who will listen; I must have accomplished something, right? And then when it comes time to actually do the work, you’re energetically spent.

This feels very similar to insights I had when I was breaking myself from a complaining habit. I remember growing up and watching family members sit around the kitchen table, complaining ad nauseam; it was considered a way to pass the time. And to this day, I still see many of my relatives (and people in general) use complaining as their primary strategy for dealing with situations they don’t like. I know for me, it gave me a sense that I was actually doing something about my predicament, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Chakras as tools for transformation

This idea of talking versus actually addressing an issue connects to something I’ve been exploring while writing an eBook on energy work. The book takes a close look at the chakras and the ways in which, when balanced and healthy, the chakras assist us in manifesting the life we want. (Quick aside: To get an email once the eBook is available, hop on my mailing list.)

With the root chakra, which is strongly associated with the physical body, we learn about the concept of limitation, because our physical form cannot be all things at once. It has limits. It’s common, especially from a spiritual perspective, to view limitation as “bad.” We sometimes get stuck in relating to limitation merely as a stepping stone that must be transcended to reach “higher” levels. But limits provide a potent way of tapping into our power.

I love this analogy from Anodea Judith, author of Wheels of Life: A Journey Through the Chakras, in which she explains how our chakras generate power, enabling us to navigate life more purposely. She compares the interaction between the first three chakras to the process of nuclear fusion in the sun. Let’s break it down briefly.

Fusion, which is what creates the heat and light of our sun, is the result of a self-perpetuating cycle that works like this: Because the heat in the sun is so extreme, and heat causes molecules to move very quickly, two hydrogen nuclei get smashed together like speeding cars veering dangerously on a highway. When that happens, the nuclei fuse together to form helium. This process releases energy, and this energy generates more heat, which keeps the whole cycle going.

What does this have to do with the chakras (and talking versus doing)? Well, that entire process of nuclear fusion couldn’t take place without a container or a limitation, and this relates to the root chakra.

In the case of the sun, this “container” is massive gravitational force. Gravity keeps all of those atoms in close proximity to each other. This, then, allows interactions to take place, interactions created by fast-moving particles, and movement is a quality of the second, or navel, chakra. Finally, this process of movement (navel chakra) within a container (root chakra), generates power and heat, which are qualities of the third, or solar plexus, chakra. This chakra is the core of our personal power, and understanding this process of generating power helps us tap into it more effectively.

Another way of looking at this is the witch’s cauldron. As I wrote about in What Your Breathing Says About You, a witch can’t brew a potion by simply throwing herbs and other ingredients on a tabletop and hoping for the best. A container is required in which the magickal transformation from loose herbs to potion can take place.

Is talking draining your power?

witchsPyramidOkay, so we know that a container helps us generate power, but what does this have to do with talking or complaining?

Let’s think about the concept of the witch’s pyramid. This is a philosophy of magick mapped onto the structure of a pyramid with the four base points corresponding to the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) and the top point corresponding to spirit. The points are also given the following associations:

  • earth is “to know”
  • air is “to dare”
  • fire is “to will”
  • water is “to keep silent”
  • spirit is, in Wiccan traditions, the Wiccan Rede, often stated as, “Do what thou will and let it harm none.”

Let’s focus on the water element and the association “to keep silent.” One of my teachers, Christopher Penzcak, explains in The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation and Psychic Development that “to keep silent” is important because “the magick worked better when you kept silent. Thinking about or sharing your spells with others takes away from the energy as it tries to manifest your will…Talking about [that energy] calls it back. Some of the energy comes back to you, unfulfilled. If you talk back too much, you sap the energy…and sabotage your spell.”

One more eye-opening connection. In The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, Dr. Shefali Tsabary explains, “It’s important to note that there’s a difference between reacting emotionally and feeling our feelings. Many of us assume that when we are angry or sad, we are feeling our feelings. On the contrary, we are often merely reacting. Truly feeling an emotion means being able to sit with the incoherence we experience at such a time, neither venting it nor denying it, but simply containing it and being present with it.” [Emphasis mine.]

Let’s bring together the maxim “to keep silent” with feeling your feelings.

I think we can all relate to experiencing something that drives us nuts, and we feel like we just have to talk about it with someone. Have you ever become aware of that point when the venting is no longer productive, and you can actually feel yourself getting more worked up over the problem? I know I have, and I’ve heard this time and again with friends. They start out somewhat calmly explaining the situation, and pretty soon, they’re practically shouting, and it feels like they’re right back in the heat of the moment.

While I think talking things out with people is important and can be very therapeutic, I also believe that sitting with our feelings first and really getting in touch with what it is we’re experiencing is valuable on so many levels. I have noticed in my life that when I am able to do this, I don’t tend to encounter that same triggering situation again and again and again.

In college, I remember spending hours hashing out relationship drama with friends. Looking back, I could have saved us all a lot of energy by recording one of those conversations and playing it back on a loop, because while some of the details and names might have changed, the underlying issue remained the same. (Much gratitude to my very patient friends for listening to me all those years!)

It’s my belief that, because I was unable to sit with my feelings, I never allowed my feelings to initiate deeper level changes within me. It’s as if I had a huge hole in the bottom of my witch’s cauldron, and every time I hashed out the drama, my feelings and energy drained out through the hole, and I kept calling back all of the toxic energy of the distressing situation. Had I instead provided a container for my experience by keeping silent, I believe the experience would have become one of the ingredients for a magickal potion of transformation.

We tend to dissipate our energy even with pleasant experiences. We see an amazing sunset, and rather than sit in full presence, watching the sunset, soaking it into our very cells, we whip out our phones and start posting about it on Facebook, followed by obsessing over how many people like it.

I think part of this craving for validation of our experiences stems from the fact that we often don’t truly experience them because we’re too busy analyzing them, talking about them, or taking pictures of them. It’s as if we weren’t even there, because, in a sense, we weren’t. And so we seek validation that this thing really happened, that it really was significant, in the form of likes.

Keeping silent, at least for a time, allows us to be fully present in our experience, and this can be incredibly powerful.

Putting it all together

So, here’s what I’m getting at with all this talk of complaining, nuclear fusion, cauldrons, and chakras.  The ability to contain energy is required for the generation of, and the meaningful use of, power.

This power, in turn, enables us to manifest the life we want.

When we are able to contain energy, whether it be in the form of earth energy, feelings, or life experiences, for example, we provide a space for transformation to occur, and this transformation creates power.

And one of the most common ways of punching a hole in our container and draining our energy, particularly in this age of social media, is by talking our ideas or problems to death.

If, instead, we give ourselves time and space to simply be with the experience–pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral–we create a magickal cauldron within us, giving life the opportunity to transform us.