During the time of the pandemic, have you felt more irritable, less motivated, and pervasively out of sync without being able to put your finger on the specifics? Me too. But, I figured it out.
It all relates to rhythm.
Before COVID, our lives had some consistency. We had offices to go to which required our getting out of bed and starting our days with routine activity and timing. We got dressed. We parked our car in the same spot every day. Our workdays were generally the same hours. We interacted, in person with the same people every day. We usually had weekends off to spend enjoying movies, restaurants, hobbies, casual dinners with friends and family. Children went to and from school on a schedule. We had some benchmarks for day-to-day living that allowed us to plan our lives with some degree of control and confidence that they would take place. We sort of fell into a life rhythm that sustained us. But, for the last two+ years, all that has been off the table. Working from home has wrought havoc on any kind of daily organization. Forget getting “dressed”. Creating a rhythm where no other people were involved became a strange phenomenon. Mask-Life certainly lacked any sense of connection. It occurred to me recently, when I started thinking about the times in my life when I felt my best, the central theme was rhythm. It might be called order or discipline but when we get into our groove, that IS our rhythm at work.
We are humming inside.
Natural rhythms guide all that we do. Our lives literally begin with the rhythm of our heartbeat and first breath. Hunger and thirst have their own rhythm too.
Each of our lives has a rhythm of its own…one of the keys to personal peace and a sense of purpose stems from a foundational rhythm that we discover for ourselves….and we commit to. I believe our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being depend on it.
The stages of our lives from babyhood, through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parenthood, and aging, show us that each stage has its own rhythms and cycles. Each one requires us to be in sync with that cycle. If we can be aware of and connect to these rhythms and work with them instead of against them or in ignorance of them, we will experience a greater sense of peace and clarity.
Circadian rhythm is the one we hear most about, if we are traveling or if, as in now, we are adhering to the collective agreement that most of our country follows Daylight Saving Time.
Aren’t you always keenly aware of how screwy you feel internally for a few days after the clocks roll forward or back?
Honestly, I always thought God planned things pretty well for us. We do pay a price for messing with our daylight hours…..Each year, during the week following the switch over from one Daylight Saving time setting to the other, there are more strokes, more heart attacks, more car wrecks, more premature births, more emergency room visits, and more suicides than any other time of the year.
Who could imagine that changing things by one hour could make that much difference?
Our days and nights are out of sync for a while until we can adjust. We weren't meant to mess with Mother Nature, were we?
When I was at my best….in the best shape of my life, the happiest, the most productive, and the most successful, I lived by a definite rhythm. I woke up the same time every day, naturally. No alarm clock needed. I met friends for a 3-mile walk in the park every day. Four of us, two by two…we fell into the same cadence with one another as we walked and talked our way around the trail. I came home and had breakfast. Showered. Dressed. And was sitting at my office by 9:00. 3 hours of work before lunch. Lunch for an hour to 1.5 hours. Then 3 more hours of work before heading home. In bed by 9 to wind down from the day. Lights out no later than 10:00. Eyes open again, between 5:30 and 6:00. I slept soundly every night. Clockwork. It may sound regimented but it became a consistent rhythm I really didn’t even think about.
In the last few years, since moving to a new place, I have had no rhythm whatsoever. It rains quite a bit where we live now. So, those consistent “up and out” days are a thing of the past. Now that I am not working a regular schedule, most days I don’t get up at any specific time. My husband and I enjoy having our coffee sitting in front of a morning fire, but even that is not done at any given time. We may not eat breakfast until 10:00 am. When we eat breakfast that late, lunch may not occur at all. If that’s the case, then it’s an early dinner. But “RANDOM” is our operative word. Then evenings…TV. A lot of TV. Hours of TV. Every night. We’ve become Netflix bingers.
Attempts at joining exercise classes that would be held at the same times and the same days of the week were canceled due to issues around COVID. Exercising by myself in front of a TV in an online class was more depressing than energizing.
Does any of this sound familiar??
We talk about “getting back to normal” from this pandemic crash course in “WHATEVER” that’s dragged on and on for the last two years. I think what we are really craving is the consistency of a basic life rhythm. The only place it occurs, as always, is in nature. The four seasons remind us that there are always four of them, evolving year after year, with little variation.
We are tender creatures meant to be in sync with the natural order of things. When that order is not there, we have to create it for ourselves so that our “insides” can feel a sense of peaceful, clear, consistent well-being.
This rhythm thing is new learning for our world. We’ve heard quite a bit about mindfulness in the last few years….now, we can turn our attention to all the ways rhythm is showing up in our world….and take a lesson from nature to create our own natural pace, rhythm, and regularity.
Our future depends on it.
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