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Wise Words
Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Master Stephen Co: The Power of Prana


The energy that sustains and vitalizes life is all around us. It’s in the air we breathe and the earth upon which we walk. We get it from the food we eat and from the sun under which we live our lives. We are literally swimming in an ocean of this universal life force that we refer to as prana. Fortunately, we have been blessed with a body that has the natural capacity to absorb this energy—from the air, the sun, the earth, and our food—and use it efficiently to power every task we perform: from mundane instinctive physical chores such as moving our arm to pick up the phone, to deliberate mental activities such as planning a daily to-do list, to incredibly complex automatic functions such as cell regeneration and healing.

But consider this: if it is true that this life force is all around us—and it is—why then aren’t we always energized and healthy? If this prana is available to us at virtually every turn in our life, and we take it in automatically, why should we ever be tired or sick or unhealthy? If we have ready access to an inexhaustible supply of the fuel our bodies and minds need, why should we ever become mentally fatigued, stressed out, or physically run down?

There are two very basic reasons:

  1. There are different levels of energy absorption capability, and most people never learn higher-level practices that enable them to draw in the large quantity of life force needed to get and stay sufficiently charged for life’s many tasks.
  2. This energy, while extremely powerful, is also delicate; it’s easily diminished or contaminated by poor diet, bad lifestyle choices, and other factors such as unresolved negative emotions. As a result, most people never learn how to maintain the purity, or quality, of their life force.



When we breathe, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. This process is known as respiration, and it is a continuous exchange of these two gases between us and our environment. Similarly, there is pranic respiration, or a prana exchange, between us and the outer world to help us get the energy we need. We absorb fresh life force—from the sun, the earth, the air, and our food—and we expel dirty or used-up energy back into the environment. The body consumes prana constantly, just as it does oxygen. And, like oxygen, the prana needs to be constantly replenished. It’s a continuous cycle. However, as noted above, there are different levels of this energy exchange. We all have the inherent ability to absorb the baseline amount of prana we need to sustain life, which might be described as a “subsistence level” of energy exchange. At this level, we draw in and expel energy unconsciously and passively—that is, without willful intent, thought, or technique. The vast majority of people function at this subsistence level—and even this level works marvelously well in helping us meet our basic needs. However, to increase your personal supply of energy, to boost the quantity of the prana you take in, you need to learn and practice more effective methods of prana absorption and exchange. This is best achieved by learning to change your energy exchange level from unconscious and passive to conscious and active—and when this happens, you have the ability to take in enough prana to not only survive, but to thrive and live a more vigorous, energetic life.

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