Where’s your mana at?

Sep 27, 2016

Where's Your Mana At? | www.nalumana.com

Where’s your mana at, lady?


Mana is the Hawaiian word that refers to “life force energy.”  Interestingly, there are different words for the same concept in many other cultures; you may have heard of the word prana, or chi, or ki.  

(I always feel like when an esoteric concept like this is repeated cross-culturally that it carries that much more validity: it’s totally a thing).

The Hawaiians believe that everything has mana – people, animals, rocks, the ocean…everything.  And they also believe that mana can be gained or lost based on your thoughts, your behaviours, the way you live your life.

Maybe you know where I’m going with this.


Because if you’re anything like many of the women I coach with, you might feel like you’re being sapped of your mana from every direction.  Your job – that one where you’re staring at your grey fabric cubicle walls. Your family – those tiny little parasites (and sometimes full grown ones too) who need need need from you every waking (and sometimes non-waking) minute of the day.  Even the day-to-day effort of adulting (you know, laundry, dishes, more laundry, bill paying…the list goes on) can sap what little energy you might feel you have left.

And the crazy thing is, the mana-filled activities and behaviours that you can engage in – eating vibrant foods, moving your body, taking time in silence – feel like they require a least a modicum of time and energy to do.  Time and energy you don’t feel you have right now.

And the life force-sapping downward spiral continues until it’s 10p.m and you’re binge-watching Netflix with a bowl of salt and vinegar chips on your lap.

It’s no way to go about changing the world, lady.


And it’s no way to live, either.


If any of this is resonating with you, you’re probably feeling a bit stuck right now.  I know…we’ve all been there.

Luckily, I’d be a shitty life coach if I didn’t have a few tricks up my sleeve that might help:

  1. Do a little inventory of how you are spending your energy in the run of a day.  This isn’t just chronology of your daily activities:  things like worrying about a problem that just won’t go away, feeling guilty about not exercising or eating well, wondering if your kids like their new teacher, or trying to schedule ladies night with five other busy women…those things count, too.  Make a note of whether the energy you’re spending is physical energy, mental energy, or emotional energy.
  2. In another column, make a list of what gives you energy.  In this list, you can also include things that would give you energy, if only you had the time and…ahem…energy to do them.  Maybe you’re working on a really exciting project at work, or you love going for walks in the woods, or you feel totally energized when you plan out your meals for the week, or hang out with a certain friend.
  3. How do your lists balance out, energy out versus energy in-wise?  Truly noticing this, having it concretely listed on a piece of paper, is the first step.
  4. Taking a wild and crazy guess here:  I’m betting you have proportionally more energy expenditures than energy providers.  So:  is there any energy expenditure that you can excise from your life?  Can you solve the niggling problem?  Automate or outsource a task?  Just have the conversation?  Some of the things that are sapping your energy may be easy to address.  Some things, though, might be harder:  maybe you’re realizing that the mere fact of being at your job all day is leave you feeling drained when you come home.  In these cases, just noticing the energy some aspects of your life require – and noticing how that impacts you, is enough for now.

Wonder, for a moment, what might be possible for you if you found a way to decrease or limit the activities, behaviours, and situations in your life that leave you feeling drained, and added just one or two mana-filled, life-giving, energy-rich activities.

Here’s what I think:  you’re going to find yourself with time on your hands.

And – if I know you, and I think I might – you’ve got a few things you’d like to do with a little extra time on your hands.


Something tells me, too, that when you have the opportunity to see what’s possible for your life when you’re not donating your energy to people, behaviours and situations that don’t serve your higher purpose, your values, or your desires for your life, you’ll find it that much more unacceptable to engage in mana-sucking situations.  

Because ultimately, this is your life.  I’m not sure if we get more than just a few decades worth of walking on this wild and lovely planet:  it’s probably best to make the most of the time we’ve got.

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!