Field Notes


September 30, 2023 - 5 Comments


Avraham Cohen, PhD, RCC-ACS, CCC
Private Practice Psychotherapy and Counselling
Organizational & Leadership Consulting & Coaching
Vancouver BC  Canada
(604) 313 8423

October 1, 2023



There is no force inherent in living matter, no vital force independent of and differing from the cosmic forces; the energy which living matter gives off is counterbalanced by the energy which it receives.

William Thomas Councilman

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

—Lao Tzu

Tom Fisk (

Field Note Audio


In this Field Note, I will focus on how we feel energetically within as we go about our days in the world, and how we feel in terms of connection to the primal source of this energy, if indeed there is such. If this latter is not available you can use your wild imagination to conjure it up. I often hear from people about their lack of energy. Whatever you believe and don’t believe about this most primal energy there is little doubt in my mind that most everyone would like to have access to such energy in the service of knowing the most ultimate truths. Of course, as my father used to say ‘…be careful what you ask for. As you just might get it!’

For sure there are many questions, sacred and secular writings, proselytizers and naysayers about such energy; that is what we sometimes call cosmic or spiritual energy. I don’t think I will be able to resolve the question here, and hopefully I will give you some ways of working with that and thinking about some enhancement of the possibilities for you.

I have certainly found that as I age my physical stamina is not what it used to be, and parts of my body hurt in ways that were previously unknown. However, with cultivation of my vital energy in a multiplicity of ways, notwithstanding my diminishing stamina and somewhat reduced physical capacity, I seem to be able to continue to engage with what matters to me and pursue such: for example, my counselling practice, my relationships, learning to be a grandparent (Zaida,in Yiddish, x’s 2). Hence the kind of energy that I am talking about does not necessarily show up as a physical manifestation, although it may indeed accompany such physicality.

The energy to which I refer is known by many names. I think universal life force or vital force are two good terms. From my experience, this vital force powers our will to be and to know. This energy is perhaps the same energy that ‘directs’ a flower to reach towards the sun. It certainly seems that all living things have this urge and surge to expand towards some unknown destiny, powered by some enigmatic and ineffable energy, emanating from an unknown, even unknowable, source.

Before I make suggestions about the kinds of experiments and practices you may undertake for the cultivation of this life force or vital force let me offer you an example based on my own experience of this energy. Perhaps, in reading my account, you may be able to relate yours to mine in concrete ways.

 With my attention turned inward I initially notice various physical sensations. This is very usual for me.  My body sensation seems to be a frequent doorway to my deeper more primal energy. From experience I know that it does not matter what the nature of the feeling is. It can be pleasant or otherwise.

 I notice a slight tightness in the centre and front area of my chest. This is a familiar feeling for me. It is my doorway in this moment, and indeed, on many days. What I have come to know is that this tightness is a part of my conditioned attempts to close down and, simultaneously, open the doors to and for my life energy. I have worked with this ‘closing down/opening up’ experience over many years. It is associated with a personal history of being told to quiet down, don’t be so intense, and don’t run around as “you will overheat and catch a cold.”

 This continuous attempt to supress my energy from outside at some point, became translated into the message: “there is something wrong with you.” It was only in my late 30’s that I realized that there actually was something wrong, but in reality, I realized the wrongness was with the world around me that thought that I, and for that matter most with a lot of energy were problematic with all that energy. Thus, while my body still has the remnants of this habitual reactivity, my awareness almost immediately moves me to breathe a bit differently and recognize the remnants of my failed efforts to join the club of oppression that is against exuberance.

 I am paying attention now, and l notice the vestigial tension is already releasing. I feel a rising heat and a vibration now in my chest, and as I pay attention to this, I feel the spread of this energy throughout my body. I begin to feel increasing experiences of what I am still working on and working with: my felt sense of connection to something beyond me that I am still dreaming about knowing much more and fully.


I am aware that at this moment I am focused on my writing and the allowing of the energy to express and ‘write’ without my ‘interference.’ The writing is happening, and I could say that the author is ‘it,’ and not me in terms of any solid sense of identity.

What I have described above is about dealing with the physical sensation and bits of memory that are constricting my life force energy and how to work with this to lighten the load. Essentially there are two main features to accessing life force energy and growing space for it. The first one is doing the inner work to discover aspects of your own personal history that impact this expression. I have talked about this in many of the previous field notes and I will give you a brief summary of possibilities with this just below.

The second key aspect is the cultivation of the energy. Shortly I will give some ideas of practice about this cultivation. It’s important to realize that the two ways of working are intrinsically connected. Just working on cultivation while having some effect at times means that you are not preparing the ground well and at times that ground that is not well attended to will swallow you again, and again, and again.

Now, I turn my attention to you, and offer you some possibilities. Here is a proposal—an experiment you can conduct on yourself. Sit (or stand, walk around) somewhere and conduct a quick “inner scan”: how and what do you feel, energetically? Notice this, and then think of something, a person, or an experience that greatly pleases you, brings joy to you, elates you, and so on. Just note again how you feel energetically. Do you feel more energetic, feeling uplifted and charged, after experiencing the jubilant feelings (and thoughts)? If you are able to ‘rouse’ up this energy, be with your wondering, your curiosity as to where this energy comes from?

Here is a further experiment: imagine or remember an experience where you had little or no words and felt as if you were a part of all and everything, expansive, and in a place of knowing that did not have words. If you cannot do this, another alternative is to imagine a great teacher or leader and see them in your inner world. It doesn’t matter that you might think of this as your imagination. Your imagination is a great, powerful. and perhaps underdeveloped part of yourself. Play with it. Remember, what you imagine comes from your own consciousness.

As you see, I am not suggesting that we go down the ‘scientific’ inquiry road. That’s not where we are going—at least, not in this writing. My interest is to support you to notice what is happening in your sensing, feeling, inner environment, and in your own capacity for knowing the ineffable. Once you can notice and note, then you can look for it in your everyday experience. However—I am repeating myself here—this first step of noticing and noting is challenging for many people precisely because the practice of turning their attention inward is not so familiar, and there is confusion as to what counts as something to notice. This is at least in part an outcome of the outwardly focused cultural environment in which we live. Well, even noticing your confusion, should you have such, is a noticing, a moment of awareness.

When you can begin to explore the details of how these phenomena happen, and what can happen when you notice them, you can then increasingly invite the phenomenon to readily happen. In doing so, you can work with the elements that make up this experience. In other words, you can nurture and cultivate this energy in the service of your health and living a life as fully and optimally as possible. Crucial in my view is the cultivation and ongoing fine-tuning of your in-the-moment awareness. Your ability to notice what is experientially and verifiably there, and in an increasingly nuanced and sensing way, is very central to your ability to notice your own life force energy and to cultivate and support its emergence and expression.

As well, as I have written about previously, you can also notice what arises that occludes the experience. And let me reiterate an important point: when something arises that blocks or diminishes your life energy, rather than trying to throw these experiences out as useless garbage, you can take advantage of these arisings and do the inner work to help these parts of yourself to develop and be part of your inner life and community and be in support of your experience of that which is beyond so-called normal consensus reality.

Practice possibilities for energy cultivation:

1) Use your wildest imagination that is available to re—member any experience that you have had, seen, any person that represents what we are talking about here, and so on.

2) Do a free form meditation; sit, stand, walk, run, take your pick and allow changes between these possibilities as you are moved to do so and as time goes on. Have your eyes open or closed or shift intermittently as you feel to do so. Allow movements and sounds to emerge. To the best of your ability allow whatever emerges to emerge. Notice the state you get into. ‘Practice’ and study the state. ‘Memorize’ the state and practice reproducing it wherever and whenever you wish.

3) Practice any forms of breathwork with which you are familiar. Hyperventilating is a strongly possible way to change your state.

4) Many other practices are also usable and helpful potentially. For example, yoga, running, martial arts, dance, mindful meditation, intense and meaningful dialogue, and so on. Note that sacred plants often open the doors of perception and show what is possible. These experiences of the possible are available beyond the use of the substances and in fact eventually do not require the substances. The substances provide some possible insight as to what the state is, or at least some pathway to the state.

5) Think in terms of following yourself and following nature. Cultivate your ability to notice even the smallest instances of these experiences, and letting them ‘lead’ you. Many think of ‘not thinking’ as being the goal. I would suggest that ‘being out of your mind,’ that is literally finding the place beyond the usual forms and formations, and thoughts, and not as conventionally understood as ‘crazy,’ is a good way of framing this consciousness we are exploring here.

I will end this Field Note with a wish and an encouragement that you continue your own inner search and research for this vital force and your connection to its source and that is surging within you Please do share your own discoveries in the service of helping others with their own search and research.

Many thanks as always to Heesoon for her stellar support with this note.




  • Janyse October 2, 2023 at 8:16 am

    As I grow older and my long term memory kicks in, I lose friends, I experience what you described so well, and although I feel strong or independent I also feel so vulnerable. I have spent my life since 25 studying psychology, energy psychology, models of ways of perceiving, and I think I think too much. Now at 74 I think I should have thought less and just done it—-Sometimes I think too much introspection takes you away from the community and we need to be more involved in the community when we’re older as we were when we were younger, I miss being with people who love to grow love to see change love to make a difference and are happy in their profession. Yes like-minded is nice but the challenge is good and people who challenge you make you think. I like the things you write .You write so well there are some words I don’t know you have a esoteric way, but also the simple way of helping someone understand what you’re talking about. I wish I could do that so I’m going to remember some happy events or events where we Create good energy to help with ongoing energy during the day so much the same as tapping on the Meridian points , it works way better than cognitive therapy. Thank you for your email. I’ve always admired your explanations.

    • Avraham Cohen October 9, 2023 at 11:13 am

      Hello Janyse,thank you for your detailed and personal message. I think that feeling both strong and vulnerable encompasses the range of being human, and so having both experiences available and increasingly fine-tuned in the moment(s) is an ongoing practice and also an indicator of development towards being fully human. I don’t know that it is possible to have “too much introspection.” I do appreciate the point I think you are making. I would just say that what you are pointing is akin to spinning your wheels and being out of balance towards thinking and less in touch with other realms of ‘knowing, and with awareness.

      I think the community you are describing as great to be a part of is very hard to find. We can see that in the world the common or consensus consciousness is a long way from what I believe you are pointing towards.

      Thank you so much for your very kind and affirming words about my writing. I think my esoteric ways reflect my nearly life long ways and explorations, also my affinity for language, and for sure the best part of my academic background. I had some exceptional teachers along the path way.

      I am reminded of the Spanish poet, Machado’s words, “Traveller, there is no path. The path is made by walking. By walking you make a path. And turning, you look back. At a way you will never tread again. Traveller, there is no road. Only wakes in the sea.”. ― Antonio Machado, Border of a Dream: Selected Poems.

      I am happy to hear that you will ‘practicing’ your energy ways and path.

      warm wishes,

  • Susan Mavor October 15, 2023 at 9:22 am

    Hi Avi, I’m impressed and thankful for the clear ways you explain life force and how to work/play with it. Currently I’m practicing a form of meditation called “metta” which—as I’m sure you’ve aware—translates to “loving kindness” or some say “loving awareness.” My physical experience with this quite easy and rewarding practice may be similar to what you’re describing here. Not sure. There’s a warming, inner glow and release of some tension in the act of imagining others, or myself, as happy and free from suffering. And so, I’m wondering if this life force, this “enigmatic and ineffable energy, emanating from an unknown, even unknowable, source” as you say, could be love. It’s interesting how overly simplistic and Hallmark card-ish that sounds. Depending on how love is described I think there’s something there. And it’s interesting why I feel a little tightness in my chest when thinking of it, outside of meditation practice.

    I’m studying an article by Jung Lin and others, that describes love this way. The authors say “Reflecting back on human history, spiritual teachers such as Laozi, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohamad, and Gandhi all spent prolonged periods of time in meditation and built inner connections with others. They transcended the sense of separation and felt deeply in their spirit that we are all One. Calming down the mind and aligning the heart with the force propelling the universe is essential to sense love.”

    Maybe we are talking about the same thing?

    • Susan Mavor October 16, 2023 at 9:36 pm

      Autocorrect got the name wrong. The article is by Jing Lin, et al. “Love as the Foundation for Reconciliation and Peace: Embodying Interconnection and Oneness through Contemplative Education,” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 35:1–12, 2023.

    • Avraham Cohen October 21, 2023 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Susan, thank you for your thoughtful response to the Lifeforce Field Note. In terms of “metta” meditation I would say that the fuel for the experience is the lifeforce, and for sure your reference to the body as a doorway hits the mark in my view. My effort is to point towards that which cannot be pointed towards. I think that naming it as love is a fine idea, and of course, it is a love that is a driving force for the more usual meanings of the word love.
      A suggestion: the tightness in your chest that you describe is perhaps the conflict between the doorway that is access and egress for life force and that is colliding with the material body as it manifests the material and psychological forces that are provoked within the context that you describe.
      As you have discovered Jin Ling is a force in this realm. I think that calming the mind, tuning the body, feeling emotions, and having thoughts arise, all in an ever-shifting harmonious way that is ‘effortlessly’ in harmony with all and everything and is the evidence that we are seeking, and more centrally the arising experience that is…
      Of course, we are always talking about the “same thing!”


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