One of the things modern society got completely wrong – in my opinion - is the disconnection from a cyclical way of living. We have created this false notion that we should always be upbeat, productive and forward going. In reality, our bodies are not built for such a one-sided life. We have, just like nature, different seasons, tempos and modalities. To live sanely and holistically we need to embrace the dualities of yin-yang; rest and action, night and day, receiving and giving.
An example of our body's cycles is the circadian rhythm; the daily biological cycle of wakefulness and sleep, which is highly connected to the interaction between sunlight and our nervous system.
A well-regulated nervous system will experience subtle cycles of expansion and contraction throughout the day. In expansion mode, we experience more energy, a sense of alertness and an immediate outward focus. When in contraction mode we feel less energetic, our focus turns inwards and we naturally need to rest, digest and time to repair.
When we don’t honor our changing levels of energy our nervous system doesn’t get a chance to relax and renew and we end up stressed or burned out (trust me I've experienced it myself).
Nature has a wealth of cyclical elements that can help us remember that we are changing constantly: the rising and setting of the sun, the cycle of the moon, tidal ebb and flow, and the four seasons - to name some of the most visible ones.
I love using nature as an analogy and especially the seasons; winter, spring, summer and fall. We can use them to tune in to the natural energy present and also as a way to explore our own inner state. I like to think of it as the outer and inner seasons. By relating to my inner state from a seasonal perspective, I find it easier to let go of any resistance to what is happening inside of me, since I can apply nature’s wisdom that everything is constantly changing. Instead of making a low energetic state a problem, I can accept that I’m experiencing an inner winter and that eventually If I allow myself to rest spring will come, and I will once again bloom.
Here’s an overview of some of the qualities linked to each season:
Tested in order to grow
I think it’s important to listen to one’s own inner season. Sometimes we’re not necessarily in sync with the outer season. To give an example; I felt very low energy in May, which is the peak of spring in Europe. During June and July, I mostly felt a need to take it really slow – to feel safe and be with close friends and family or in nature. As I’m writing this by the end of August, I’m starting to feel adventurous and outgoing and more action driven. The point is there’s no one formula for all. The outer season can invoke a certain energy, and sometimes we’re connected to it, sometimes we aren’t. The key is to listen to our bodies and get to know what we’re feeling and needing moment by moment. Then we can tend to ourselves. This is the foundation to be able to fulfill our potential and live a full, joyful life.
I’d be curious to know if you feel like you’re tuned into your own seasons? And if not, what feels most challenging about living a more cyclical life? I’d love to know, tell me in the comment below or send me a note on firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
—Henry David Thoreau