What Is The Meaning of Cyclical Living?
Learning the tools of cyclical living to enhance your wellbeing will help you cultivate a deeper compassion and connection to yourself and others. It will guide you to a happier and healthier life. It will help you avoid burnout and getting overwhelmed. And it will give you the mental and physical resilience to live the life you truly want.
But what is the meaning of cyclical living and how exactly can it help you?
Look To Nature
Nature provides the perfect example of how to live cyclically, especially in parts of the world where we can see the four distinct seasons so viscerally. All organic things have a cycle. Spring sees the stirrings and reawakenings of new life. Summer heralds the arrival of growth when everything is thriving. In autumn we shed, gather and store. And in winter there is rest and hibernation. Every plant and animal knows innately that in order to survive – both as an individual and as a species – it must conserve energy where possible and expend it when necessary.
We are a part of nature. We are made up of the same chemical elements as everything else on this planet. We need to see ourselves as another part of the same cycle of birth, death and rebirth. In so doing we can make sure that we have the energy needed to do all of the things that modern life requires of us.
So cyclical living means aligning yourself with those cycles – of the moon and her phases, of the sun and his seasons and of your own hormonal cycles (this doesn’t just apply to women!)
Here in the West, we live in capitalist, patriarchal societies where the emphasis is on more. All across social and mainstream media, we are bombarded with the message that if we are not constantly striving, reaching and grasping for the next big thing, then we aren’t really living. We are told to manifest, to goal set, to have ambition and always to aim higher. Which is not a bad thing per se, but there is a context to those things.
Finding happiness with cyclical living
What are we striving for? Most people would probably agree that they are in the pursuit of happiness. Buy the big house and be happy. Get the great job and be happy. Earn a certain amount and be happy. But it turns out that what we think will make us happy and what actually does is very different. Research shows that there are five things that will make us happy and one of them is mindful meditation to keep us in the present moment. Using cyclical living and observing the cycles of nature as a focal point for mindfulness is a really great tool.
Nature’s cycles are within us and it all starts with a breath. Your inhale is connected to the sympathetic half of your nervous system. This is your ‘flight or fight’ state and is not only for when you are in danger but what, essentially, gets you up and out of bed in the morning. The energy of the inhale is masculine – it is ‘doing’, it is ‘action’. The exhale is connected to the parasympathetic half of the nervous system. This is your ‘rest and restore’ half. This is the state we need to be in in order to digest food. The energy of this breath is feminine and is about rest and rejuvenation.
There is macro-micro interplay at work here. On a micro level, the interplay between rest and action starts with the breath. It then begins to broaden out to a macro level. Our inhale (action) is correlated with the daytime, broadening into the waxing and full phases of the lunar cycle, broadening again into Spring and Summer. The exhale is nighttime, broadening out into the waning and new moon phases and then again into Autumn and Winter.
Photo by Marcus Dal Col on unsplash.com
Our bodies are designed for this dance between rest and action. With every breath we take we are in balance. Never fully in parasympathetic – otherwise we would be couch potatoes – and never fully in sympathetic because otherwise we would burnout……Oh but wait…. many of us are in burnout. Our modern lives find us in an almost constant state of flight or fight. We literally carry around a stressor in our hands. Never off, our phones constantly bombard us with news feeds, emails and social media rants, the notifications providing us with an uninterrupted backdrop of noise.
For our own sakes, we need to step out of this treadmill of constantly doing and begin to prioritise rest and simply being.
Aligning ourselves with these natural phases is how cyclical living can help to avoid burnout. To make sure to work when your energy is high and rest when it is not. A great place to start is to begin to pay attention to the phases of the moon. This is where I began. If you would like to learn more, please visit my website and check out ‘Women’s Wellbeing’. I hold moon circles twice a month to help people keep on track!