by Deepak Chopra: Our body, our mind, our emotions – everything in our physiology is changing moment to moment…
depending on the time of the day, the cycles of the moon, the seasons and even the tides. Our body is part of the universe, and everything that happens in the universe ultimately affects the physiology of our body. Biological rhythms are an expression of the rhythms of the Earth in relationship to the entire cosmos, and just four rhythms – daily rhythms, tidal rhythms, monthly or lunar rhythms and annual or seasonal rhythms – are the basis of all of the other rhythms in our body.
As the Earth spins on its axis, we experience a twenty-four-hour cycle of night and day that we call the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is based on the spinning of the Earth, and everything in our body, being part of the Earth, is also spinning and following the rhythm of the Earth. When this biological rhythm is disrupted by long-distance travel, for example, we experience jet lag. Or if we work a night shift, we don’t feel quite right even if we rest during the day, because our biological rhythms are out of tune with the cosmic rhythms. Even a little bit of subjective experience tells us that at certain times of the day we feel hungry, while at other times of the day we feel sleepy. We know that we tend to feel one way at four o’clock in the afternoon and another way at four o’clock in the morning.
Tidal rhythms also have an effect on our physiology. These rhythms are the result of the gravitational effect of the sun, the moon and the stars in the distant galaxies on the oceans of planet Earth. We have an ocean within us that is similar to the oceans of our planet. More than 60 percent of our body is water, and more than 60 percent of our planet is water. So we experience a low tide and a high tide, and the tides ebb and flow in our own physiology. When we feel out of sorts, our body is out of synch with the body of the universe. Spending time near the ocean, or anywhere in nature, can help us to synchronize our rhythms with nature’s rhythms.
The lunar rhythm is a twenty-eight-day cycle that occurs as a result of the movement of the Earth, the sun and the moon in relationship to one another. This rhythm is evident in the waxing and waning of the moon. We see the full moon, the half moon, no moon and then the cycle starts all over again. Human fertility and menstruation are good examples of lunar rhythms, and there are many other twenty-eight-day cycles. When I worked as a physician in an emergency room, we would frequently expect to see patients with certain types of problems depending on the time of day and the cycles of the moon.
As the Earth moves around the sun, we experience seasonal rhythms as distinct biochemical changes in the body-mind. So we are more likely to fall in love in spring or get depressed in winter. People with a condition known as seasonal affective disorder get depressed in winter but feel better when you expose them to sunlight. Seasonal changes affect not only the biochemistry of the human body; they affect the biochemistry of trees, flowers, butterflies, bacteria and everything throughout nature.
The Earth tilts on its axis in the spring, and flowers bloom, groundhogs come out of the ground, birds migrate, fish return to their spawning grounds and mating rituals begin. People are moved to write poetry, lovers sing songs, and young and old hearts fall in love. Seasonal rhythms affect us biologically, mentally, emotionally, and it all has to do with the relationship of the Earth to the sun.
There are other cycles and rhythms that oscillate for just a few seconds, and there are rhythms that last anywhere from thirty minutes to twenty-eight hours called ultradian rhythms. There are cycles within cycles, and it gets very complicated, but it’s all one symphony. All of these rhythms create the symphony of the universe, and the body-mind is always trying to synchronize its rhythms with universal rhythms. To separate the body-mind from the rest of the cosmos is to misperceive things as they really are. The body-mind is part of a larger mind; it’s part of the cosmos, and cosmic rhythms result in profound changes in our physiology. The universe is truly a symphony of the stars. And when our body-mind is in synch with this symphony, everything is spontaneous and effortless, and the exuberance of the universe flows through us in joyful ecstasy.
When the rhythms of our body-mind are in synch with nature’s rhythms, when we are living in harmony with life, we are living in the state of grace. To live in grace is to experience that state of consciousness where things flow effortlessly and our desires are easily fulfilled. Grace is magical, synchronistic, coincidental, joyful. It’s that good-luck factor. But to live in grace we have to allow nature’s intelligence to flow through us without interfering.
Theoretically, if we were totally aligned with the cosmos, if we were totally in harmony with its rhythms, and if we had zero stress, then there would be very little entropy in our body. Our body wouldn’t age if we were totally synchronized with the cycles of the universe. If it did undergo entropy, it would be on the scale of the universe, which is cosmic cycles or eons of time. But our body-mind is not totally aligned with the rhythms of the universe; and why isn’t it? Stress. You see, as soon as we have a thought, any thought, it interferes with the innate tendency of the biological rhythms to synchronize with the universal rhythms.
How do we interfere with nature’s intelligence? In spiritual terms, we can say that we interfere when we identify with our self-image and lose our inner self; when we lose our sense of connection with our soul, our source. In more common terms, we can say that we interfere when we start worrying, when we start anticipating problems, when we start thinking, “What can go wrong?” When we try to control everything, when we are afraid, when we feel isolated – all these things interfere with the flow of nature’s intelligence. Anytime we feel resistance, anytime things are going wrong, anytime we feel frustration, anytime there is too much effort, then we are not connecting with our source, the field of pure consciousness that manifests as the infinite diversity of the universe. The state of fear is the state of separation; it is resistance to what is. If we don’t have resistance, then it’s all spontaneous, effortless ease.
Our body is constantly speaking to us through signals of comfort and discomfort, pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion. When we listen to the subtle nuances of sensation in our body, we are accessing intuitive intelligence. This intelligence is contextual, relational, nurturing, holistic and wise. Intuitive intelligence is more accurate and precise than anything that exists in the realm of rational thought. Intuition is not a thought; it is the non-local cosmic field of information that whispers to us in the silence between our thoughts. So when we listen to our body’s wisdom, when we become aware of the sensations in our body, we will know the whole cosmos, because the whole cosmos is experienced as sensations in our body.
If we are out of harmony with universal rhythms, the signal that comes to us is a sense of discomfort, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional. When we are flowing in harmony with the universe, the signal that comes to us is a sense of comfort, ease or joy. In reality, these sensations are the voice of spirit, which speaks to us at the finest level of feeling in our body. When we offer our body our deep listening, we will hear the voice of spirit, because our body is a bio-computer that is constantly plugged into the cosmic psyche. Our body has a computing ability that can instantly take into account the infinity of details that create every event in our life.
Knowing all this, why not treat your body with reverence and take care of it? Nurture your body with your loving attention. Let go of all constriction and tightness in your consciousness so that your body can relax x into the rhythms of the universe. If you pay attention to the rhythms and cycles of your body-mind, and if you become a little familiar with cosmic rhythms, you’ll see that you can synchronize your body’s rhythms with the rhythms of the universe. You don’t have to be an expert, just pay a little attention to this. Notice how you feel at different times of the day and at different times of the month depending on the lunar cycle. Look at the sky, and observe the cycles of the moon. If you look at a newspaper, check the high tide and low tide. Feel your body and see how it relates to each of the seasons. Understanding these rhythms can really help you, but the following information is all you need to remember.
Between six and ten in the morning and between six and ten in the evening is when your body is hypo metabolic, or at its lowest phase of metabolism. Try to spend time in silence around six in the morning and six in the evening. Ideally speaking, it’s best to meditate in the early part of this phase and to exercise in the middle of this phase especially if you’re doing it to lose weight.
Between ten in the morning and two in the afternoon is when metabolic fire is at its highest. This is the time to have your biggest meal, because your body will metabolize the food much better. Between two and six in the afternoon is a good time to be active, to learn new mental skills or to engage in physical activities. Between two and six in the morning is a good time to dream.
Around six in the evening, and preferably before sunset, is a good time to have dinner. It’s best to make dinner a lighter meal, and to have at least a two- to three-hour interval between dinner and sleep. Then try to get to bed by ten or ten-thirty at night, and you’ll have ideal sleep and great dreams.
These are very basic suggestions, but once we start to synchronize our rhythms with the cosmic rhythms, the body feels quite different. It feels vital; it doesn’t get fatigued. We feel more energy subjectively. We begin to experience that state of consciousness where everything in our life is flowing with ease. Vibrant health is not just the absence of disease; it’s a joyfulness that should be inside us all the time. It’s a state of positive wellbeing, which is not only physical but emotional, psychological and ultimately even spiritual. Technology won’t make us healthy. What will make us healthy is to be aligned with the forces of the universe, to feel that our body is part of the body of nature, to commune with nature, to commune with our soul by spending time in silence and solitude.
The oceans and rivers of our planet are the lifeblood that circulates in our heart and in our body. The air is the sacred breath of life that gives energy to every cell in our body so that it may live and breathe and participate in the dance of the cosmos. To know that we are a part of this Earth, to know that we are inseparable from the cosmos, is to have the experience of joy, the experience of connectedness to everything. This is the healing experience; it is the experience of being whole. And to be whole is to live in grace.