Celebrating the Ebb Tide of your Natural Rhythms
You are an ocean. You’re about 60 percent plain water, with an admixture of chemicals that approximate the sea in which your most ancient ancestors evolved. Also like the sea, you are tidal. You ebb and flow. Your heart and lungs continuously contract and expand.
Your circadian rhythms alternate between alertness and sleepiness. You also have ultradian rhythms, multiple physical systems that ebb and flow within each day. Ultradian rhythms control things like your hormonal levels, heat regulation, appetite, and nostril dilation. (Yes! Nostril dilation!)
Rediscovering your natural rhythm
Unfortunately, you’ve had your natural rhythms disrupted by a culture that praises you for working continuously, and makes you embarrassed or ashamed of the need to rest. But in high performing roles, from musical performance to office work, human beings function best in bursts that max out at 90 minutes. These work periods are interspersed with at least 20-minute periods of R&R (I myself find that 70 minutes on, 30 minutes off, is the best way to get things done).
Here’s my challenge for this month: Try tuning into your innate rhythms, allowing ebbs as well as flows, and see what happens. When you settle into work, or play with your children, or clean the house, set a timer for an hour.
Before you start, rate your energy level from 1-10, with 1 being “I am so close to dead I can see Grandma beckoning from heaven,” and 10 being “I am on crack and plan to take over the universe.” Work with full attention until the timer rings, then check your energy levels again. If you feel like resting, even a little, do it.
Lie down. Wrap yourself in a soft blanket. Read a book. Close your eyes and feel yourself descend into an ultradian peace. After 30 minutes, check your energy again. If you feel like working, set the timer and dive in again. If you don’t, rest a bit longer, then re-check. All day, follow your own rhythm.
Finding the pace that works for you
Just paying attention to this will tune you into your own best working pace. If you can keep yourself from comparing your rhythms with others, or insisting on mechanical consistency, or panicking about everything that’s still left to be done (dear, there will always be infinite things left undone) you’ll eventually find yourself working more powerfully and resting more deliciously.
Celebrate the resting times
Just to reinforce the importance of ebb, as well as flow, let’s celebrate the resting times. Curl up and rest, cuddled up, eyes closed, nostrils dilated out to here, and trust that when you stop fighting the pull of the tide, the ocean in you will bring everything you need.
This article first appeared on marthabeck.com, and is reposted with permission from the author.
Dr. Martha Beck is a life coach and the New York Times best-selling author of these popular resources for finding your life purpose: Finding Your Own North Star, Steering by Starlight, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, The Joy Diet, and more. She’s also the author of the bestselling memoirs Expecting Adam and Leaving the Saints. Beck’s latest book, Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening, is her first foray into fiction and is the first installment of her Bewilderment Chronicles series.
Join Martha at the Art of Living Retreat Center from September 28th-30th for Navigating the Storm, a retreat designed to give you powerful tools to navigate uncharted territory in your life.
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Find Better Rest and Sounder Sleep with Ayurveda
Do You Want More Rest?
Have you ever wondered how to get better rest, faster? Perhaps googled sleep hacks to maximize those few hours of sleep you get in? I have. so I asked Ayurveda expert Lokesh Raturi about how to get better rest from an Ayurveda perspective – an Ayurveda life hack, if you will. His comments show Ayurveda’s characteristic view that gives different solutions for each body types and offer some great tips for everyone. Read on for more.
Q: What is the importance of rest?
A: Rest is a part of our life.
For a vata (light) person, sleep will give good rest at the level of the body. For a kapha person, too much sleep is a danger that may imbalance kapha (heaviness), making him more dull and lethargic. We need to strike a balance. For a kapha person, six hours of sleep is enough to rest the body so that your body feels dynamic and you can enjoy the day. But while a kapha person should not sleep late in the morning or during the day, a vata person can take a nap, especially in summertime. So the right amount of rest depends on your individual constitution.
Q: Many people feel too tired. How can we feel better rested?
A: This depends on the situation. If you work really hard and feel tired, that is natural; but if the body feels tired without working, it is a sign that amma (toxins) have collected in the body. What are more signs of toxins in the body?
- when you wake up in the morning, you feel sleepy and want to sleep in five minutes more
- the body aches
- all joints ache
- body feels dull and lethargic
These are the signs of toxicity.
Purify for Sounder Sleep
One solution, which also helps with weight loss, is to go for five days on an Ayurveda cleanse and drink one cup of hot water. In these five days, the body cleans itself of many of the gathered toxins. Some people want to lose weight, but they are unable to due to the toxicity in the body, though they may exercise and do plenty of work to lose pounds. However, as the body becomes free of toxins, they can lose weight more easily and feel good, light and energetic.
Rest has many meanings. If you work hard you need rest. Or if your mind feels too tired, then too you need rest. Sleep is essential to rest the body (a note here is that for people with heavier, kapha builds, exercise will give better rest — when you exercise and then relax — then that will be good rest.
I confess…I did try this Ayurveda cleanse for myself. Within one day I felt better, and within another day ten (10!) friends joined me to experiment with the kichadi cleanse. Did I feel better rested? Yes. Fresher in the morning? For sure. I invite you to grab a couple of friends, a pot of mung beans and try it yourself and share your experience. in our next post, we’ll investigate more practical hints to get better rest on a daily basis.
Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.