Nature and hence our lives are governed by rhythms. We like rhythms as they keep us in flow and in tune with our surroundings. As such they are our friends. Nature is constantly changing her rhythms and as a result is never truly in balance – always moving from one energy state to another – sort of a quasi-equilibrium. We are just like nature with our rhythms being the best indication we have of feeling in flow.
From time to time we either willingly choose to change our rhythms or a person or event comes along and changes them for us – your partner says sorry she won’t be around anymore to watch you drink beer on the couch. She has decided to move to Acapulco with Domain her new body building boyfriend. Bummer!
The mind loves rhythm because it helps us focus. The ego loves rhythm because it feels in control, and when it’s threatened it tends to react. As a result we often get upset when our rhythm crumbles or is broken. For us to be in flow we need to accept such inevitabilities. This teaches us to be creative and find a new (and hopefully better) rhythm. Change becomes a challenge rather than a threat.
Perfect rhythm is not balance but being able to meet the changing nature of our lives on all time scales.
On my first trek in the Himalaya, an experienced friend advised me that the best method for walking is keeping a steady rhythm – even if I thought it slow. Find your best pace and stick to it. If the going gets too tiring slow up, but don’t start, stop, start, stop as you waste energy. A rhythm is important in adapting to the journey and the challenge of high altitude.
In the gruelling Tour de France the cyclists can hit a wall – they “crack”. To stay in the race they need to reset so they pace themselves with a new rhythm, understanding that tomorrow is a different day on tour.
If your rhythm is no longer working, it becomes your weakness – even your enemy. So the whole beer and couch thing maybe getting a bit stale. Sit in a chair instead, read the Economist and drink red wine. I don’t know – whatever – just change it. Then, when that’s gets a bit stale, take up Japanese tea and haikus. Let yourself be open to experiencing new things.
Our rhythms have different time scales but they have a self similarity – i.e. our daily rhythms somewhat map our life’s rhythms. Whilst we can adapt and quickly change our daily rhythms, what about those on a longer time scale – over months or years? These may be obvious but are often hard to change even though they no longer serve us. They may be wearing us down.
Importantly, changing our daily rhythm may not change our larger rhythmic imbalance. These larger rhythms may be do to with your eating habits, relationships, work etc. You intuitively know the ones that are toxic so focus on them and get shot of them. It’s much more scary to change something if you can’t firstly find a new rhythm, but sometimes the only way to change is to jump in. Ok – so not easy we say – but what choice do we have really? More of the same? It doesn’t have to happen immediately but get focused, develop a plan around change and make it happen.
A little extra note: Over millennia we have adapted to the diurnal rhythm, the seasons and other natural rhythms. But because the modern world is separating itself from nature our lives are being pushed and pulled in strange ways we are yet to fully understand. An important one is the light in our environment. That’s a big topic for another article but a quick point is we are seeing the darkness of night disappear. So called light pollution is disrupting our natural diurnal rhythm or circadian rhythm. Also at night we tend to have a lot of “blue spectrum” light about rather than red light which apparently is better at night. More on this soon.
Bye for now – James Wild