Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rhythms of Life

By: Mary Ann Copson

“There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures. There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding. And there are times of fruition, when things come to an end. They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade. And finally of course, there are times that are cold, and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream. Those rhythms in life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing, not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are.”
--Chogyam Trungpa

Seasonal Rhythms

The dynamics of your body extends in an expanding range and your physiology is linked to the world and universe at large. Your body changes with the seasons, with the weather, with the atmospheric conditions. Many people can tell in their bones when a change in weather is coming. Human bodies are in synch with the gravitational forces, planetary shifts, the cold and heat, light and dark, humidity and all the other variations that the seasons bring. They respond and shift their functioning according to these natural dynamics. Your body increases and decreases certain functions in response to surrounding influences.

Biological and Geophysical Rhythms and Frequencies

All living organisms are composites of different rhythms and frequencies.

The heart beats approximately once per second but this rate speeds up in the morning and slows down at night; the electrical activity of the human brain cycles in fractions of a second; breathing occurs about sixteen times per minute; many hormones are released in pulses lasting several hours.

Across all species the natural daily rhythmic cycles run in twenty to twenty-eight hours for a natural day. The most conspicuous cycles in plants and animals are these daily rhythms (Circadian). They inter mesh with other cycles that are longer or shorter than a day.

Biological activities and processes are tied to lunar cycling as in monthly processes such as menstruation and also to the earth’s rotation around the sun as is seen in such yearly activities as hibernation, migration, and reproduction.

The seven day week has no obvious geophysical correlate but research suggests that this cultural convention may reflect deep biological rhythms. Seven day rhythms are seen in many illnesses, for example the common cold, and beard growth in men follows a seven day cycle.

Annual seasonal rhythms are less noticeable in humans than in other animals but they do exist. Secretion of the male hormone testosterone surges in the fall, sperm concentration and activity is highest in the winter, and rates of conception peak in the winter. More babies are born in August and September than in other months. Babies born in summer and fall tend to weigh slightly more than babies born in other seasons and they have a greater likelihood of survival. Miscarriages are greater in the fall.

Deaths also have a seasonal pattern. Fatal heart attacks are more common in winter. This is true even in climates that are mild such as Hawaii and also in the southern hemisphere where seasons are reversed. Winter months are the time of lower resistance to infections and of higher cholesterol levels.

Disorders and Seasonal Rhythms

It has been found that people who suffer from depression have skewed body rhythms and cycles. These may include the rhythms of sleep, body temperature, and hormone release. Seasonal rhythms have also come under scrutiny. Suicides peak in the spring usually in May. Admissions to mental hospital for depression also soar in the spring. There is another smaller surge in suicides and hospital admissions in the fall. An external environmental factor - the length of daylight -is believed to an influencing factor.

The Body Has a Master Clock

In the 1960’s researchers found the key generator of body rhythms. Injuring part of a tiny region at the center of the brain known as the hypothalamus caused the loss of many normal rhythms. The hypothalamus commands the sympathetic nervous system. It speeds up breathing and heart rate in moments of danger, regulates body temperature, stimulates appetite and reproduction and controls hormone secretion. Further research found that a critical area of the hypothalamus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus -SCN- a tiny cluster of nerve cells that sits on top of the optic chasm, is the body’s master clock. The SCN directs the body’s various rhythms to work together. The SCN uses daylight signals picked up by the eyes to direct each body rhythm to do its part at the appropriate time, day after day.

Seasonal Changes

Regardless of location, in traditional cultures, there was an awareness that they were continuously affected by the changing seasons. You may live longer and be more healthy if you adapt your health care to the natural rhythms of the earth. Learning to live within the seasonal fluctuations is believed to bring health, harmony and strength to the body. It also provides a natural timetable and rhythm for a good service check and health care program for maintenance and upkeep to prevent accumulated stress from degenerating body responses.

Many people get the flu in the shift from summer to fall. In the peak of winter many suffer from depressive moods. Some people find that if they drink fruit juices or eat a lot of fruit in the winter they will feel cold and damp and get a cold. When it is difficult to adjust from one season to the next our bodies may react through lowered immune responses that leave us more vulnerable to later illness.

Sometimes the body is a bit out of step with all the changes from one season to another. That’s why many people tend to get sick during those shifting times. Sometimes we fail to adapt our habits to be more compatible to our changing body functions in response to the seasonal changes. By being aware of some of these cyclical changes throughout the year we can support shifting body dynamics so as to assist the changes. We can also take advantage of these natural shifting points to expand those dynamics that are increasing/flowing and rest those that are decreasing/ebbing. Many traditional cultures have set up associations of food, drink, activities, energies, dress, organs of the body, and emotions that are related to and affected by the seasonal shifts.

Are You Connected With Your Natural Rhythms?

Your biological clock is set to cue you to certain kinds of activities during certain times of the day. Bodies have thousands of natural rhythms for every biological function. Your moods are regulated by your biological clock. Your brain energy is just like your other natural rhythms – high at certain times of the day and low at other times of the day. Your energy and vitality follow the same natural ebb and flow. When you try to push through those natural rhythms you lose the temporal harmony of your biological clock and desynchronization, malaise, dysfunction and poor performance set in. You will run but you will never be your best.

When all your biological patterns are ebbing and flowing according to their natural rhythms your body is synchronized and performs at its peak. You will have effortless energy and vitality when you live in accordance with your circadian, diurnal, and seasonal rhythms.

Are you aware of any energy cycles that you have? Do you pay attention to these cycles and adjust your activities as needed?

Are you able to go inward and rest when needed, or are you more likely to resist and keep going?

Are you aware of changes in alertness and your thinking abilities and do you use this awareness advantageously?

Do you have the energy and passion for projects that you want to do?

When you must perform at your best do you remain calm, focused and positively energized regardless of the situation?

Are you able to naturally meet the challenges of a situation? Or does it all seem to be too much for you and you just get by as best as you can?

Can you enter a state of calmness, alertness, focus and positive energy whenever you need to regardless of the situation?

If you are worried or feeling upset can you set aside these feelings and be fully engaged in what is happening for you in the moment?

Do you have the energy and motivation to be involved in interesting and challenging situations that call for you to be your best and operate creatively?

Copyright (c) 2008 Mary Ann Copson

Mary Ann Copson is the founder of the Evenstar Mood & Energy Wellness Center. With Master's Degrees in Human Development and Psychology and Counseling, Mary Ann is a Certified Licensed Nutritionist; Certified Holistic Health Practitioner; Brain Chemistry Profile Clinician.If you have answered “no” to any of the above questions, reconnect to your physical, emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual natural rhythms at
http://evenstaronline.com

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