One summer day in 1976, I was sitting in a friend’s apartment in Boulder, CO, where we were both assistant teaching at Naropa Institute [now University], a school that focuses on training in the arts, Buddhism, and contemplative psychotherapy. I was reading "Cutting through Spiritual Materialism," written by Naropa’s founder, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa. The following passage caught my eye: “In the Tantric tradition energy is categorized in five basic qualities or Buddha Families: Vajra, Ratna, Padma, Karma and Buddha. Each Buddha family has an emotion associated with it which is transmuted into a particular ‘wisdom’ or aspect of the awakened state of mind. The Buddha families are also associated with colors, elements, landscapes, directions, seasons, with any aspect of the phenomenal world.”
Reading those words changed my life. It led me to a contemplative tradition with an understanding of energy at its core. My immediate connection came from my passion for exploring the dynamic qualities of expressive movement as a dancer and choreographer. I explored human emotions—the heat of love, the strength of anger, the stiffness of pride, the sparkle of joy. So I instinctively knew about the energies of which he wrote. My awareness of these energies began to color my perspective in many aspects of my life, particularly my relationships with people. Why was it that one man brought out my intellectual curiosity and another my physical desire? Why did I feel at ease with one person and anxious with another? Why would I feel powerful in one situation but inhibited and frustrated in another? What was the energetic relationship between myself, these people, and these situations?
More than 40 years later, I am still at it!