Need help cultivating energy

Having enough energy & motivation is an important aspect of the path. Modern science will tell us that getting the proper nutrition and exercise is important, but what did the Buddha have to say about cultivating the striving and enduring ability to keep going forward especially in those hardest moments? How to we constantly maintain ourselves to perform at our best while taking the Middle Way?

What does the Buddha say about maintaining the body for energy?
What Suttas? What Rules?
What does the Buddha say about maintaining the mind for energy?
What Suttas? What Rules?

Are there rules that monks have found that help raise energy levels?

Examples of Suttas on the topic…
Grounds for Laziness and Arousing Energy AN 8.80

(Unknown Sutta)Buddha giving Moggallāna advice to increase energy & focus so he can reach enlightenment)

Time of day for eating seems like it would be another one.

I am trying to find as much information on rousing energy as possible. I am really struggling with my energy level. I want to say it is because of my hectic life, but the Buddha says differently and I want as much proof as possible on what the Buddha said on the matter. If I can get some control over my energy and focus I can then better focus on other parts of the Dhamma!

Did the Buddha elaborate, on energy gained from food, from exercise, energy arising from thought alone? Did the Buddha give advice on proper sleep? Anything that could possible help me fix this problem 'cause I see it costing me dearly.

EBT Suttas are definitely what I’m looking for, but any advice would be helpful.

Also if anyone knows offhand what Sutta that is where the Buddha tells Moggallāna to plug his hears, lay in lions pose, or walk to help maintain energy and focus I would be really grateful for your knowledge!


SN 46.2 - The Body

“And what, bhikkhus, is the nutriment for the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of energy and for the fulfilment by development of the arisen enlightenment factor of energy? There are, bhikkhus, the element of arousal, the element of endeavour, the element of exertion: frequently giving careful attention to them is the nutriment for the arising of the unarisen enlightenment factor of energy and for the fulfilment by development of the arisen enlightenment factor of energy."

(Carte blanche, and exhortation to do all that which supports and causes mindfulness, which gives no reason not to include physical exercise, yoga, etc. in the case of energy)

SN 46.51 Nutriment

(Another “carte blanche” sutta with that same paragraph - do that which is appropriate for each of the 7 factors of enlightenment)


One thing that I rarely see discussed is that the medical system at the time of the Buddha seems to have been an early type of what is today called Ayurveda. There are scattered references to this in the canon, mostly in the Vinaya. The central aspect of Ayurveda is that health is linked to digestion, and especially the strength of the digestive fire.

Here is a quote from a modern Ayurvedic website:

The concept of agni, the Sanskrit word for “fire,” is rather essential to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda views agni as the very source of life. It is said that a man is as old as his agni and that when agni is extinguished, we die. 1 Perhaps even more significantly, Ayurveda teaches us that impaired agni is at the root of every imbalance and disease. So the importance of agni in Ayurveda simply cannot be understated.

And two relevant suttas:

AN 5:53 Factors that support meditation

They are rarely ill or unwell. Their stomach digests well, being neither too hot nor too cold, but just right, and fit for meditation.

AN 5:29 Walking Meditation

“Mendicants, there are five benefits of walking meditation. What five? You get fit for traveling, fit for striving in meditation, and healthy. What’s eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted is properly digested. And immersion gained while walking lasts long. These are the five benefits of walking meditation.”

In Ancient times, people would’ve walked everywhere because it was almost the only way to travel. Today we use vehicles. But it might be eye opening to know that there are Ultra-marathoners today who can run a 100 miles for a race. There is no evidence that running was done for health reasons in the suttas however.

More detail is in the medicine chapter of the Vinaya but it’s somewhat obscure to understand unless you are familiar with Ayurvedic concepts.

In Ayurveda another central aspect is understanding your constitution (called dosha, of which there are three: earth, fire, air) and following the guidelines that support that constitution rather than going against it. For example, if your fire element is weak naturally you have to increase it and support it, and to reduce it if it’s too excessive. Support for this is found in the personality types (carita) mentioned in the Visuddhimagga. But there the focus is on personality types and is divided into six and you have to be familiar with Ayurveda to see that this system is obliquely related to it.

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Does he? My understanding is that the Buddha understood that the lay life is tiring. The Buddha describes lay life as dusty and crowded in the suttas. Which is one of the reasons for establishing the monastic order. You can certainly benefit from practices of arousing energy, but isn’t rest a physiological need? There are impressive stories of monks sitting up all night filled with energy, but they didn’t have hectic lives. Ajahn Brahm starts his lay retreats by instructing people to rest for a reason…

I’m only pointing this out as an additional angle to look at things, not to suggest that you shouldn’t aspire to the highest ideals. Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood.


Energy arises from being aware of one’s position on the path. This demands acceptance that the mind is subject to defilement, as there is a tendency among some modern Buddhists to think the mind is pure and to deny the defilements. A true appraisal of the position through investigation results in motivation.

“Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head; in the same way, the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities.”—AN 10.51


“And what is the food for the arising of unarisen analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, or for the growth & increase of analysis of qualities… once it has arisen? There are mental qualities that are skillful & unskillful, blameworthy & blameless, gross & refined, siding with darkness & with light. To foster appropriate attention to them: This is the food for the arising of unarisen analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, or for the growth & increase of analysis of qualities… once it has arisen.”—SN 46.51

Another possible cause of the avoidance of motivation is the incorrect attitude where the practice is exclusively directed at tranquillity. That causes the insight awakening factors of investigation, energy, and rapture to be excluded.

Greetings! :anjal: I think this is wonderful that you’re trying to solve this through advice of the Buddha and it certainly can be very helpful.

My personal advice is that if you didn’t already, please do basic thyroid diagnostics (TSH in blood level). It’s relatively cheap and quick. I’ve struggled for years with extremely low energy levels and after years realised I’ve just lacked certain hormone in proper amount. Now when I take this hormone every morning I feel much better and at least I’ve got energy level to put more of Buddha’s advices into practice. :wink: I’ve tried many things before but was overpowered by low energy levels over and over again.

Please forgive me this sort of medical advice which might be against forum guidelines, but I think it is so little and very innocent (it is just diagnostic encouragement) and can potentially help so much that I think it’s worth it. :pray: It is in line with teaching of the Buddha tho that we should take proper medicine to help the body when it’s needed. :slight_smile: And anyway, just try to consult a physician, and you might get good diagnosis about your low energy levels. I think using both physician help and advice of the Buddha taken together can bring best results.

Whatever it is, I wish you getting better and having more energy ! :slight_smile: :sun_with_face: With Metta :yellow_heart:


It is by reducing sensual stimulus that energy arises.
Go seclusion away from society as much as possible;
Talk as little as possible;
Limit social media participation;
Eat less than you are now.

Senses input consumes our energy.

The Buddha said “all beings subsist on nutriment” in a sutta answering to his son Rahula.

And from Abhidhamma point of view, there are 4 conditions which control Rupa (kamma, mind, temperature, nutriment).

As all are aware, we’ll have to utilize our body and mind till last breath to practice our path. So, it is apparent we need to maintain a reasonable level of nutriment. Say, we need to balance our energy in middle way.

According to Dammacaskya, we are advised to avoid both extremes - craving too much on senses and torturing oneself- and to take only the middle way.

Path to Dhamma is a striving without craving as well as much self-sacrificing.

Same same. As for me, I started with 3 minute meditation during busy time to recollect myself (or energy).
To cultivate Bhavana, there is no specific requirement of time or place. You can even do while you’r working.

Thanks and regards,

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Hi @savaka.umaro,
The Sutta about the Buddha’s advice to Moggallana is AN7.61 “Nodding Off”
It’s worthwhile to listen to Ven. Punnadhammo about the topic:
Energy - Viriya

Also AN6.55 has good advice about energy.

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