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Skillful Cycles: Tips for Honoring Nature’s Rhythms

by Michael Finkelstein, MD

Night and Day, Weeks and Months, Seasons and Years…Indeed, cycles exist everywhere in nature, but our society has gradually drifted from a way of living that is supported by its rhythms. We eat when should be digesting; we are awake when we should be sleeping; we speed up when should be slowing down; and we spend when should be saving. We crave and cultivate wealth, power and privilege, which creates a cycle of working to make more money to buy more material things that we hope will make us happy, but rarely ever really do.

These vicious, manmade “cycles” are at odds with natural rhythms both in our world and within ourselves. For in the process of doing all of this we strip the earth of its resources and we pollute our air and water; and as we fall out of balance with nature’s cycles ourselves, we are led to poor health and dis-ease. Those who feel or are disconnected from the vital source of nature as well as family and community may find themselves overindulging in some manner to fill the void that these rich connections would otherwise bring. Whether it is with food, drugs, sex or material extravagance, overindulging inevitably leads to a never-ending cycle of fear and emptiness.

Here are some tips on paying attention to nature’s rhythms so that you can live a more balanced, skillful life:

  • Honor your own Sabbath: Adopt a “Sabbath” ritual, e.g. a day once every seven that includes the elements of: activity in nature, family and community, a special meal and rest. During the day, or at least a good portion of it, it would be wisest to disconnect from the tyranny of technology and the responsibilities of “work” that rule us during the other six days. This does not need to be a “religious observance,” however, one must appreciate that this interval of the seven day cycle that is the backbone of these traditions is as brilliant as it is essential. Our body, mind and spirit will benefit immensely and thrive if we give ourselves one day every seven to slow down, restoring and refortifying our connections to the earth, each other and spirit.
  • Switch up (Rebalance) your meals: Consume more at the onset of a meal, e.g. of a nutritious appetizer of fresh and seasonal vegetables, then see if you can slow down a little to better digest and absorb your food. Actually this may help you eat less overall; many times speed simply overrides our capacities to sense fullness. Most importantly, be careful with what you allow to enter your mind when you eat—perhaps recite a private prayer to give thanks as a routine. Finally, try to eat more during the day and less in the evening or at night.
  • Let Go of the guilt: In order to keep your metabolism (e.g. your bio-rhythm) stable, make it a rule not to guilt your friends and family, and ask them to do the same! Emotional or physical stress induces a hormone releases which have significant effects on how our bodies function.
  • Enjoy: Don’t fear the sun!: While it is true that we can easily overdue sun exposure, our body cannot produce Vitamin D without adequate intensity and quantity of sunlight. In plain fact, the sun is the source of all ”life” as we know it and most people feel better when it shines. Use your common sense and enjoy.

MICHAEL FINKELSTEIN, M.D., is the former Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief of the Departments of Medicine and Integrative Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York. After 20 years in the allopathic medical community, he left these positions to pursue a more intuitive and holistic approach to his work, as the founder and director of SunRaven, a wellness center in Bedford, NY. He is also a nationally recognized radio show host, inspirational speaker and blogger whose concept of “Skillful Living” applies his holistic approach to overall health and well-being: the business of living must be developed, like a skill, with mindful, dedicated attention. Please visit www.SunRaven.org for more information.

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