We stand in the Underworld right now – that space between Samhain and Yule where darkness, quiet and inner work reigns. We carry the burdens of the past year with us and some of them are incredibly heavy. One of the things I hear from people constantly these days is that they’re tapped out. A teenage client phrased it incredibly well during a recent healing session: ‘My soul feels dehydrated.’ Addressing that soul-deep fatigue is not impossible. It takes some self-study, reframing and experimentation, but we really can learn how to replenish our energy – how to drink when our souls are thirsty.
Numbing vs Replenishing
We know something is wrong, so we do try to fix it in the ways that make the symptoms recede for a bit. However, there’s a big difference between a numbing activity and a replenishing activity. Numbing activities make the discomfort/fatigue/soul-ache stop for a time. They are escapist in nature. Numbing activities can include playing video games, watching movies, scrolling social media…they are a way to make our brains ‘check out’ for a time. And numbing activities absolutely have their place. After a long day, or an upsetting event, taking a sanity break from reality is totally understandable and necessary. The thing is, numbing activities only address the symptoms and they are temporary. The way to figure out whether an activity is numbing or replenishing is to note how you feel afterward.
A numbing activity will leave you in the same, or worse, psychospiritual space after it has concluded. For example, one of my numbing activities is playing an online version of Scrabble. I can dissolve into my many ongoing games for a half hour or more at a time. But, when I come back out of the game, I am exactly where I was. My fatigue levels are the same. My emotional state is the same or sometimes worse because I am now wrestling with guilt about ‘wasting time’ playing my game. I am no more or less enthusiastic about the work on my desk. In short, I successfully hit the ‘pause’ button but I have not done anything in terms of treating the root cause of my energy depletion.
A replenishing activity can sometimes feel a little like an escapist or numbing activity while it’s happening, but the aftereffects are distinctly different. Replenishing activities leave us feeling at least slightly recharged, enthusiastic, hopeful, uplifted and ready to move forward. It’s probably easy to think about replenishing on a large level. What activities have you experienced that bring on feeling ‘better?’ For me, I think of spiritual retreats, workshops with certain magickal presenters, energy healing sessions, and true vacations (NOT working vacations). That entire list of things is not particularly accessible, though – they all require time, energy, money or all three, and we don’t always have access to the resources necessary for a big reset. In order to feel similar effects, we need to explore how replenishing works on a smaller scale.
Everyone recharges differently and it can be helpful to consider replenishing activities in broad categories when we’re figuring out what works best for us. The four categories I use to help break this idea down are Embodied, Spiritual, Food-Based and Consumption-Based activities.
Embodied replenishing activities are dense with physical sensation. They include experiences like having a massage, going for a float in a float-tank, hiking, dancing, working out, sex and other body-based activities.
Spiritual replenishing activities are based around our connection to our higher selves. They include performing or attending effective rituals (emphasis on ‘effective’ – not all rituals are created equal), meditation, reading books on spirituality, metaphysics or associated material, attending workshops on spirituality or magick, going to festivals, conferences, retreats and more.
Food-Based replenishing activities are all about culinary delights – recipes and meals that stimulate all our senses, connect us to happy memories and feed us on more than just a practical level. This is not just ‘comfort food’ – this is a mindful way of experiencing food that truly leaves us feeling reenergized down to our core.
Consumption-Based replenishing activities involve the acquisition of physical objects. Curating and beautifying our hearths and homes can be a deeply replenishing experience. One of the phrases my students get truly sick of me saying is ‘You cannot underestimate the power of aesthetics.’ Cultivating an environment that heals your senses and is filled with objects that bring you joy can be powerfully replenishing.
Determining Your TypeSo, how do you figure out which energy type or types you are? You’re in luck – I have a really fun homework assignment for you. Choose a small, inexpensive experience that falls into each category. On separate days (so that you know what makes you feel better), explore that experience.
Some general guidelines to make your homework effective:
Lean in. When you are exploring a replenishing activity, bring all your senses fully present. When the monkey-mind starts chattering, simply acknowledge the thought and then return to the exact, present moment. If you are experimenting with Embodied activities and have chosen to get a 15 minute seated massage, try to let your mind either relax into that healing space or allow it to fully concentrate on the pleasure of having your muscles soothed. If you are trying Spiritual activities and are rereading a text that has previously engaged you or something new by one of your favorite authors, shut off your phone. Light a candle, maybe light some incense or anoint yourself with essential oil and put on soothing music if it won’t be distracting for you. Fully engage with what you are reading. When exploring Food-Based activities, choose a food you’ve been craving and engage fully with all your senses. Eat slowly so you can savor each bite. Notice how it smells, how the food tastes on your tongue, what emotions or memories arise, what the aftertaste is like. If you’ve chosen to try Consumption-Based activities and are going thrifting, let the process of finding the exact, right object for your hearth be an adventure. When you have found your new candleholder, vase, statue or other object of beauty for your home, immediately clean and cleanse it. Then, place it somewhere you’ll see it every day. When you’ve placed it, sit and admire how it adds to the aesthetics of your home. Notice it when you pass it and pause to enjoy it if time allows.
Noting. Take notice of your emotions during each activity. What emotions are present before and during each activity? Try to actively label them, even if it’s after the fact. Here’s a link to the Feelings Wheel to help you find the right words.
Reflection: This part is important (and might require further use of the Feelings Wheel – just leave that tab bookmarked). Write down how you feel immediately after the activity. Then, write down how you feel one to two hours after the activity. Check in the following day as well. Remember that you are looking for activities that make you feel refreshed – you will have more energy, enthusiasm and motivation after they have concluded than when you began. If you feel the same or worse, that simply means that the activity is not replenishing for you. There’s nothing wrong with that – keep trying different kinds until you find the right fit.
Once you have figured out what works best for your particular energetic needs, think about small-scale activities that share those qualities. I’m Embodied and Spiritual activity-based when it comes to replenishing. Small scale Embodied activities for me include taking a hot bath, going for walks with my dog, going on hikes with friends, giving myself a pedicure, taking yoga classes (or just doing a few restorative yoga poses), and cuddling with partner. Small scale Spiritual activities include the short, free guided meditations on the Insight Meditation Timer app, reading interesting books and articles that make me excited about my spirituality, going to local workshops by presenters I enjoy, and watching/listening to Youtube presentations by some of my favorite metaphysicians. All of the different replenishing types can be scaled up and down in terms of energy, money and time requirements.
This part is challenging simply because it requires that you put yourself first. Remember, we cannot pour from an empty Well. If we do not find a way to recharge, it impacts every relationship, task and experience we have. December is difficult enough without also being tapped out. Tend to your Well.
Write out all the different activities you can think of that apply to your particular style(s) of energy replenishment. I like to divide my options by time – I have some activities that take 5 minutes or less, some that take up to a half hour, some that are an hour’s commitment or more. I try to do one of the short ones a few times a week, one of the medium ones every week or two, and one of the longer ones at least once per month.
Good luck, my friends. May you find your energy renewed this season, and may your self-knowledge unlock new sources of wisdom, strength and resilience.
Do you fall into a different category than those listed? What is it? Have you found a great way to replenish your energy? Hit me up in the comments. I always love to hear new ideas for getting more water into the Well.