With sheltering in place and not working for the past three months, I have had the opportunity to better notice the natural rhythms of my body. I’m surprised to discover that my energy is not consistent, but ebbs and flows from day to day. With time on my hands, I am able to honor these natural rhythms, and I am feeling so much more balanced, healthy, joyous, and calm. This made me think of all the times I have forced my body or my mind to be in a place that, naturally, it is not. How many times, because of my busy schedule, have I jacked myself up with caffeine, dark chocolate (my drug of choice), carbs, or sugar to get my body and mind to perform at the same high level every day?
Several weeks ago we got the bad news that our beloved cat has cancer. It’s incurable and inoperable, so, in essence, he’s on hospice. This news devastated us as our cat is a vital part of our family. For the rest of the day, I was worth nothing. I sat on the couch in a sort of stupor. I couldn’t concentrate, I had no energy, and I was very sad. I chose not to try to change my energy that day with stimulants, but to just allow the natural ebb to be there. I tried to feel where in my body I was feeling the sadness and, when I found the place (my heart center, of course), I put my hands there and offered love, compassion, and comfort to myself. A few hours later, I was able to come to terms with our cat’s prognosis and a bit of my natural energy returned. I would never have allowed myself to process this sadness in my “busy” life, but it was exactly what my body, mind, and spirit needed.
Another time I spent about five hours working in our yard planting, pulling weeds, hauling wood chips, watering, and pruning. I hadn’t planned on spending that much time in my yard, but I had a lot of energy. That was a natural flow. I had planned on returning to the yard the next day to finish up some pruning with a power saw (oh so fun!), but my body was just not into it. My body was tired, and I could tell it needed a bit of rest. Instead of using caffeine to charge up my body, I changed my plans and worked with my mind that day to let my body rest. That was a natural ebb after a natural flow.
I notice that my quantity of sleep ebbs and flows as well. Some mornings I awake naturally after seven hours of sleep, other mornings it’s after nine hours of sleep. Most of the time it’s around eight hours. When we pack our schedules and don’t get to bed on time, we have to set our alarm clock to wake up. Oftentimes we have to get up before our natural body rhythm dictates. We start the day feeling tired, and then artificially wake ourselves up and continue to do so all day long.
When our schedules are jammed full with work, activities, commitments, and our never-ending to-do list, we constantly push ourselves. We demand a high level of output day in and day out. But our bodies are not machines; they do not operate at the same level of efficiency and output on a daily basis. We don’t like this fact, so we jack ourselves up with caffeine, chocolate, sugar, carbs, and everything else to push our bodies to perform at a perpetually high-octane level.
Over time, this constant forcing of our bodies to perform at high-levels takes its toll. Our nervous system gets fried, our hormonal system becomes unbalanced, our digestive system doesn’t work as well, our hearts wear down, we develop eating disorders, we experience sexual dysfunction, and even our skin and hair break down. Our bodies just can’t maintain that constant, unnatural output, especially when it’s artificially generated with stimulants that we consume.
On the days where we are feeling naturally energetic, we can opt to engage in high-energy activities. On the days where we are feeling a bit tired, we can choose to do less taxing activities. If there is a big project that we’re working on, but we’re feeling a bit tired, we can still be productive by doing those tasks that require less brainpower. Over time, we will anticipate when our energy will be high or low, and can plan accordingly.
If we can remember that we are not machines and can start to honor our body’s natural rhythms of ebbs and flows, we can come into better balance, better health, and we can experience more joy and calm in our lives.
Joyce Leonard is a Life Coach, Reiki Practitioner/Teacher, and Hypnotherapist, living in Ben Lomond, with a passion for helping people live awesome lives.