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Each of us has a different way of constructing our individual routines for health and wellness, which is important. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health. Things like how often and in what way we move our bodies or how many vegetables we choose to incorporate into each meal are all part of the routines we build.
They are valuable, but they have nothing to do with our connection to rhythm.
Rhythm is a more subtle way to enhance our health and has everything to do with how in sync we are with the beat of nature—a beat to which we are all dancing, together, at all times. Just like any group of people on a dance floor, our moves may be different, but the beat to which we are dancing is the same. Our individual lives are all set in cadence with the movements of the Earth and beyond.
The basis of this shared rhythmic beat is the breath. Whether giving or receiving, all life participates in this moment-by-moment exchange of life-giving gas. The rhythm expands from there to the rhythm of waking to sleeping and back again to waking. Though we may think there are reasons to try to hack this rhythm—to pause it or speed it up—it cannot be done. Each month is marked by the filling and emptying of the moon, distinguishing our cycles of creativity. The seasons carry us through the rhythms of years passing, marking the cycle of life to death and back to life again, the entirety of each of our own lives, distinct participants.
So, while there is no stopping this rhythmic beat, there is a way to actively participate with it and be one hell of a dance partner with this thing called life.
1. Be conscious of your breath. Regularly pause to simply wonder at this life-giving exchange between you and the rest of life. Allow each breath to draw you into deeper connection with your body. Feel the subtlety of the breath moving in and out of you and let it carry into greater awareness of the relationship you share with all living beings.
2. Have a regular sleep/wake rhythm. Ideal sleeping hours for optimal restoration are between 10 pm and 4 am. Aim for as much sleep in that window as possible and make bedtime and wake time within an hour of the same time each day.
[Read: “Setting Your Ayurvedic Clock: Do I Really Have to Be Asleep by Ten?”]
Exposure to light plays an important role in this rhythm. Seek to best replicate light exposure as it would be in nature without any artificial light. If you need an entire reset, just one week spent in nature, without any artificial light, has the power to restore a person’s body clock to its natural sleep rhythms.
3. Unless it is medically necessary, ditch snacking. Regardless of how many meals you want to have, eat until full, then wait to eat again until empty. Let the cycle of full/empty be like the moon, fluidly moving through the cycle without expanding beyond comfort or sitting too long in the empty. Waiting at least three hours between meals allows the migrating motor complex (a cyclic motility pattern that moves food through the gastrointestinal tract) to complete an entire cycle, which has the power to greatly improve digestion.
4. Connect with the rhythm of the moon, inviting distinct periods of both activity and rest throughout the cycle of a month. The moon reminds us to not only shine brightly like the full moon but also to spend time in the shadow where creativity can be inspired, as it is with the new moon. Tune into the impulsive shifts in the inward or outward direction of your energy at various points in the moon cycle. This can help establish harmony in your energy patterns, making sure you’re both giving and receiving.
5. Find an intentional way to shift into each season. Each year takes us through one full cycle of life. Thoughtfully transitioning into each stage of this life cycle helps us connect with the changes taking place in the nature that surrounds us, as well as with the shifts happening within us as beings of nature. Consciously integrating the inherent and unique power of each transition helps to ground us and draws us into closer connection with our inner truth, from which we can more deeply attune to our intuition and true health needs.
Create space for yourself to connect with nature in the way that suits you best. Observe the rhythms that happen within and around you. Tune into the beat that pulses through it all. Once you feel it, you’ll instinctually know all the best moves to keep you healthfully dancing your way through life.
Check out the S&H podcast with dance psychologist Peter Lovatt.
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