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I had conjectured that a few things could increase my energy. Lately, I wonder about physical and mental energy. I thought of reading as expending effort, but I realize now reading is mostly a mental activity. Aside from physical activity, what activities can help with energy? Here, I ask specifically about:

  • Meditation's effect on physical energy and vigour
  • Any other activity potentially linked with energy and vigour: possibly chores, activities involving movement, activities not involving movement, etc.

Thank you.

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The Kusita-Arambhavatthu Sutta (AN8.80) provides eight grounds for the arousal of energy. In the original Pali version, it appears that the word used is "viriya".

"There are these eight grounds for the arousal of energy. Which eight?

"There is the case where a monk has some work to do. The thought occurs to him: 'I will have to do this work. But when I am doing this work, it will not be easy to attend to the Buddha's message. Why don't I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?' So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the first grounds for the arousal of energy.

"Then there is the case where a monk has done some work. The thought occurs to him: 'I have done some work. While I was doing work, I couldn't attend to the Buddha's message. Why don't I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?' So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the second grounds for the arousal of energy.

"Then there is the case where a monk has to go on a journey. The thought occurs to him: 'I will have to go on this journey. But when I am going on the journey, it will not be easy to attend to the Buddha's message. Why don't I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?' So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the third grounds for the arousal of energy.

"Then there is the case where a monk has gone on a journey. The thought occurs to him: 'I have gone on a journey. While I was going on the journey, I couldn't attend to the Buddha's message. Why don't I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?' So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fourth grounds for the arousal of energy.

"Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, does not get as much coarse or refined food as he needs to fill himself up. The thought occurs to him: 'I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have not gotten as much coarse or refined food as I need to fill myself up. This body of mine is light & suitable for work. Why don't I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?' So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fifth grounds for the arousal of energy.

"Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, does get as much coarse or refined food as he needs to fill himself up. The thought occurs to him: 'I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have gotten as much coarse or refined food as I need to fill myself up. This body of mine is light & suitable for work. Why don't I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?'1 So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the sixth grounds for the arousal of energy.

"Then there is the case where a monk comes down with a slight illness. The thought occurs to him: 'I have come down with a slight illness. Now, there's the possibility that it could get worse. Why don't I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?' So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the seventh grounds for the arousal of energy.

"Then there is the case where a monk has recovered from his illness, not long after his recovery. The thought occurs to him: 'I have recovered from my illness. It's not long after my recovery. Now, there's the possibility that the illness could come back. Why don't I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?' So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the eighth grounds for the arousal of energy.

"These are the eight grounds for the arousal of energy."

If you consider the ability to concentrate the mind, as a kind of mental energy, then according to the Mettanisamsa Sutta (AN11.16), metta or loving kindness is one way to gain mental concentration easily:

"Monks, eleven advantages are to be expected from the release (deliverance) of heart by familiarizing oneself with thoughts of loving-kindness (metta), by the cultivation of loving-kindness, by constantly increasing these thoughts, by regarding loving-kindness as a vehicle (of expression), and also as something to be treasured, by living in conformity with these thoughts, by putting these ideas into practice, and by establishing them. What are the eleven?

. 1. "He sleeps in comfort. 2. He awakes in comfort. 3. He sees no evil dreams. 4. He is dear to human beings. 5. He is dear to non-human beings. 6. Devas (gods) protect him. 7. Fire, poison, and sword cannot touch him. 8. His mind can concentrate quickly. 9. His countenance is serene. 10. He dies without being confused in mind. 11. If he fails to attain arahantship (the highest sanctity) here and now, he will be reborn in the brahma-world.

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Buddha shared his experience eating one meal a day before noon from Bhuddali Sutta

...experience few afflictions, few ailments, lightness, power, and a pleasant abiding....

tho in pali, Buddha didn't use Virya, he used "balañca". I think it matches your question well as it means physical strength. Maybe "lightness" from sutta matches "vigor" from your question? thanks

  • In this translation, it's "strength" instead of "power". – ruben2020 Nov 15 '17 at 17:02
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    thanks. i saw that too. question seems to be about physical energy but , Virya is mentioned there. to me Virya, viriya means towards more of mental strength (or even motivation) than physical strength as in sutta AN8.80 you mentioned in your answer. Hopefully our answers are enough to cover the question. Also came to mind was five benefit from walking mediation, but after refreshing my memories, they seem to be around increasing stamina than physical strength. anyway, i think we give decent answers. – user5056 Nov 15 '17 at 17:33
  • @DeanA Walking meditation, in my experience, does increase mental energy. I don’t have the resources to back it up with the Pail Canon or talks by learned ones, just from what I’ve encountered. I do respect and agree with your comments too. – C Smith Nov 16 '17 at 2:06

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