Tripling Your Energy with the “Ancient Child”

Steven Barnes
6 min readNov 16, 2023

The Ancient Child and Energy

I remember when I was discussing health and energy with Sifu Carl Totton. I mentioned that I visualized myself as 120 years old and still healthy. He suggested the opposite: to embrace the CHILD self instead. And it seems to make sense to me.

The subject of energy is such an important one. If you want to change habit patterns YOU NEED ENERGY

If you want to resist fear and discouragement YOU NEED ENERGY

If you want to achieve or accomplish in any arena YOU NEED ENERGY.

Now, there was a book called “How to Triple Your Energy” or something of the kind, and it had three concrete suggestions:

  1. Proper rest
  2. Proper nutrition
  3. Proper exercise.

Let’s add another element to that: clear and motivating goals/intentions. Everyone knows that if you are exhausted, but there is a sudden emergency for someone we love, we suddenly get the energy we need to cope with it. So emotional focus is a jump-starter for the entire system.

So let’s look at how you can tap into this “jump starter” using the “Child” self we are treasuring until the end of the year. Just some thoughts.

  1. If you WON’T fight as hard for your own life and dreams as you would for a helpless child in your care…there is work to do.
  2. The “Child” has your passion, creativity, playfulness, and ENERGY. A healthy child can seem to have two modes: go-go-go…and “sleep.” Totally “on” and totally “off.” We have to learn to modulate this.
  3. “In every job that’s to be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun and POOF! The job’s a game!” — M. Poppins. Never do ANYTHING “meaninglessly”. If you can get out of an unpleasant task, do so. If you HAVE to do it, it must be important in some way, to avoid pain or increase joy. The substance of your life is time and energy. If you can find MEANING to your task, even just “I’m digging coal to support my family” that gives you energy. The most unfortunate people are those who lie to themselves that they have to work at a meaningless job. Ask WHY you are doing it, and you’ll often tap into something deeper. If its awful, commit to leaving it in some period of time: weeks, months, a year or two. But you are doing it now to support yourself or your family, to build future dreams. FIND MEANING and you find energy.
  4. There are multiple ways to tap into the child’s energy. Visualization, listening to their advice and requests (in meditation), heartbeat meditation, core transformation…lots of choices. But let’s tie this into FIREDANCE itself.

“Firedance” is, most specifically, the Morning Ritual of affirmation, visualization, and emotional flooding, aiming at 1% growth per week, and saluting the MAGIC formula.

MODEL OR MAP: Who do you know, or have studied, who kept a HEALTHY relationship with their creativity and energy, their child-like creativity. NOTE: if you can only think of people who got out of balance and hurt themselves, your “death drive” is playing tricks with you, preventing you from identifying and remembering healthy examples. In that case, you will want a second model, one with excellent balance and “executive function.” If you can’t think of THAT, choose three models: one for body, one for career, one for relationships. Your “child” can healthfully sit in the middle of a triangle they define. If I chose Harlan Ellison as a role model (he would be excellent as a writing model.) I might want to be sure to have a model for physical health (HE let himself go after about 45) and relationships (so that he would be ready for a Susan much earlier. BALANCE is critical, but you can model unbalanced people if you have others to compensate

ACTIONS: Every day there is “homework” to be done. But be DAMNED sure that you also take time to play! What can you do, every day, that is FUN? How can you connect with that “fun” sense with movement, work, and connecting to family?

GRATITUDE: Who and what in this world are you GRATEFUL for? All the love, joy, success, health, connection. Celebrate every bit of it. FLOOD yourself with positive emotions. Some unfortunate people will say they have nothing to be grateful for. Would you miss your eyes and memory? Mourne lack of internet connection? If you’d miss it if you lost it, it only makes sense to be grateful that you have it. GRATITUDE is the antidote for fear, anger, and all sorts of negatives. Be grateful you have committed to awakening your “child” self, as well as the “adult” who will protect and nurture her!

INTENTION: you want to make a GOAL of improving your adult-child connection. You can say this aloud, AND simply choose role models who exemplify the states and results. “1% increase in amplitude and congruence of body, mind, and spirit” is a standard goal of mine. “1% increase in balance of adult and child selves” would be wonderful as well.

CONVICTION or COURAGE. You HAVE to feel that your actions will decrease pain and increase pleasure. As you cannot predict the future perfectly, you CANNOT ask your “child” self to labor for months or years in pain, hoping for some distant payoff. The trick is to find ways to be happy EVERY day. To learn, to give, to share, to love…EVERY day.

In that way, your “chop wood, carry water” is itself a joyful process, but you are also constantly evolving. If you get struck by lightning before you reach your goal…you’ve had a good life. If you reach your goal…celebrate and ask “what’s next”? Just as you hug and hold your child every day…or heck, play with a puppy or kitten, EVERY DAY there needs to be celebration…and if you look at the “work” that must be done as no better than cleaning a cat box or changing a diaper…its still joyful in its way. Dirty diapers mean a healthy child. Work is just work. WE DECIDE how much joy we feel in life.

And when you apply this to your physicality, your relationships, AND your career, aiming at increasing 1% per week, having fun along the way YOU CANNOT LOSE. Living a life of energy, creativity, joy and love isn’t so bad, is it? If you don’t get to a million dollars, but write and publish stories, make friends, teach and share and learn, hang out with your heroes and have that sense of “a progressive realization of a worthy goal” while working to provide security for your “child” and family…is that so “bad”? Isn’t that more than most people seem to get from life?

And its under your control…if you connect with your “child” and act in accordance with the deep values of your “elder” self, which might be the “Three Gates” or something else you are prepared to embrace and sacrifice your ego in the service of.

That’s it. Make that connect, and the rest is technique.

  1. BREATHE. Sixty seconds of deep, slow, diaphragmatic breathing per hour, at least 5X a day
  2. A morning ritual of movement, speech, and emotion, using the MAGIC formula and aiming at 1% positive change.
  3. Seeking the ideal balance of Child and Adult with the intent to become an awake, aware, adult human being…with a frisky, healthy “Child” within your heart.

NONE of this costs a dime. This is my daily practice. If this path calls to your heart…here it is. The rest is up to you.

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Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts. www.lifewritingpodcast.com.