Practices to Build Your Life Force


The belief that an invisible animating energy underlies our existence is thousands of years old. Unlike our modern, mechanical notion of energy, which we understand via mathematics, this is a living energy that we feel inside us. In Eastern religions, this energy, or Life Force, is known variously as prana (in Indian philosophy and medicine), lung (in Tibetan Buddhism), and chi (in Chinese philosophy and medicine). In the Old Testament, it was called ruach, the breath of God, which gave mankind not only life, but the spirit to evolve.

The Life Force itself may be invisible, but evidence of its power is everywhere. It created life on earth and, over untold eons, drove evolution from single-cell organisms to the unimaginable complexity of the human brain. Every seed that sprouts into a full-grown plant, every salmon that fights its way against the current to spawn, every sun-seeking weed growing through cracks in the sidewalk, is an expression of life’s unstoppable energy.

It’s natural to think of the Life Force as sustaining growth in nature—the grass growing, fish swimming, birds flying, etc. But the Life Force is capable of something more: it can fuel the inner growth of each of us. When you learn how to use its energy, it becomes the antidote to the personal problems that fill us with a sense of powerlessness.

Every human being is blessed with the ability to use the Life Force in this way, but unlike its workings in nature, harnessing its power for inner growth requires a conscious choice.


Making this choice in your head isn’t enough; you register your choice through action. Living a life filled with unstoppable passion doesn’t happen by itself; it requires a heightened Life Force, and that takes work.

Many times we build our Life Force without realizing what we’re doing. When I was on the basketball team in college and screaming at my teammates from the bench, it didn’t occur to me that I was stimulating their collective Life Force. But the more I did it, the more familiar it became, until it became a ritual I looked forward to.

Athletes in every sport, on every level, have rituals designed to stimulate their Life Force. Observe the players’ rituals before a game. The hopping, bouncing, slapping, and bumping might look like an overly aggressive dance number, but actually is a celebration of the Life Force.

Athletics isn’t the only arena that benefits from an expanded Life Force. Any role that requires you to lead, to create, or to perform—an actor, a lawyer in court, a teacher, etc.—benefits from a strong Life Force.


The most universal practice for tapping into the Life Force is really a number of practices—meditation, prayer, reading, journal writing, exercise—that make up the morning rituals that so many people swear by. Rather than preparing you for a single event, like a game, a play, or a public address, the rituals prepare you for the entire day to come.

Every time you “practice” these activities—all of them or a select few—you are making the “choice” to apply the Life Force to your own growth.

Excerpted from Coming Alive.