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Energy Centers

  • are the primitive instincts of human nature and develop in early childhood 
  • are sources of motivation which demand attention and gratification 
  • are self-centered, and when exaggerated, lead to human misery 

  • MC: 94, 36-37, 39
  • IG: 78

The first three energy centers are the sources of motivation around which our emotions, thoughts and behavior patterns circulate like planets around the sun, exercising an enormous gravitational pull.

Related Concepts




The first three energy centers are the primitive instincts of human nature: security and survival, affection and esteem, and power and control. In the path from infancy to adulthood, these needs may be denied, and we then seek compensation. The greater the deprivation, the more energy is invested in the emotional programs for happiness.

These three energy centers are sources of motivation around which our feelings, thoughts, reactions, mindsets, and motivations circulate like planets around the sun.

As the child begins to internalize the values of parents, teachers, peers and the prevailing culture, its self-image, self-worth, and value system are influenced by the expectations of the groups to which it belongs. Socialization compounds the complex networking of the first three energy centers and forms the ego and false self. The latter manifests its radical self-centeredness in various expressions such as: material pursuits, quests for wealth and power, emotional satisfactions and relationships, intellectual goals and advanced degrees, social status and prestige, religious aspirations and acts of piety, and even in spiritual commitments such as prayer, the practice of virtue, and every form of ministry.

The first three beatitudes are aimed at demolishing the values of these energy centers and the programs for happiness on which they are based. Service to others, not domination, is the path to true happiness.

Each Lent, Jesus invites us to join Him in the desert, face the unconscious values that underlie our emotional programs for happiness, and change them. Easter, with its grace of interior resurrection, symbolizes the radical healing of the human condition.


 Reflection: Listening

The first three energy centers are natural and instinctual.

Reflection: Reflecting

How do the impulses of your first three energy centers manifest? Which activities seem to yield a measure of happiness, but are misleading?

Reflection: Responding

Question your motives. Know and name the values which habitually motivate your feelings and thoughts.