There is a natural cycle to most things, your body, your life, sleeping, the seasons, the planets, the sun. There is a rhythm that is cyclical, predictable and part of an intricate design that supports life. Rhythms and traditions have been used in many cultures as a system to support the culture and to soothe, comfort, bring people together and heal. They give a sense of peace and predictability, something you can always count on even when there is chaos.
As humans, finding a rhythm can soothe and heal our nervous systems. From rhythmic breathing to walking to a regular sleep cycle to a morning routine, all send a message to the brain that we are ok, life is continuing on as per usual. See if you can find a rhythm in your own life that supports your health. Maybe it’s as simple as a large glass of water first thing in the morning, ‘bookending’ your day with gratitude practices, or a regular exercise class or social event.
If you feel that part of you is ‘out of sync’, try these simple techniques to get back in the groove so you can roll with the rhythm:
*Breathing in to a regular beat. It can be a count of 4, or as Dr. Andrew Weil recommends, working up to a 7-2-8 breath. This means in for a count of 7, hold for 2, and slowly out for 8. Remember to work up slowly so you don’t stress your system, and always make sure you focus on the stomach, the middle and the chest, like blowing up a balloon. Practice for 1-2 minutes throughout the day.
*Tapping each side of the body in a rhythm, whether it’s your thighs, or as in a ‘butterfly hug’ , hugging yourself and tapping opposite arms. Tap until your body releases and calms. This is a common technique for soothing anxiety and trauma, and kids often love it.
*Walking, running, swimming. Try a regular routine at the same time of day, then your body comes to know and expect it. Focus on the rhythm of your body and your breath, and perhaps the scenery!
*Listening to music with a regular beat, drumming, or singing. There are a multitude of studies that prove the benefits of this like calming our nervous system with the beat and the vibration… and it’s just enjoyable!
*Planning a regular meet-up, like a coffee or tea with a good friend. I know men and women who have been meeting at the same time, same place for over 20 years. It provides a sense of continuity and community which means, in our species… safety.
What can you count on? What rhythms soothe and comfort you? I hope this year brings you a comforting system of rhythm and routines, old or new, that bring health, healing and ease to your body, your mind and your life, which is a cycle in itself.