MIGHT ADJUSTING OUR LIFESTYLES TO HONOUR SEASONAL CHANGES BE THE ANSWER TO OUR FRENETIC, STRESSFUL AND EXHAUSTING LIVES?
We, who live in the ‘developed’ westernised world, are in the very fortunate position to live in an age of abundance, to have opportunities to express and develop ourselves in many ways. To live in a democracy, mostly free from persecution and with enough disposable income to enjoy a vast array of leisure pursuits. So why is this not enough?
Despite the privilege and good fortune, many of us remain discontent; never before has mental health and the need for mental health resources been so topical. Why are we “Tired All The Time?” (TATT is now a medical acronym).
Could it be in our quest to earn more money to acquire more and better things? To make ourselves happy and to augment our status? To afford us more leisure opportunities to justify the efforts of our labour, that we have become caught in a trap and inadvertently, we perpetuate the trap that we innately know to be wrong?
We have turned our world up-side-down and fail continually to respect the rhythms of our natural world and the innate wisdom each one of us possesses. As Dallas Hartwig asserts in his latest book, the 4 Season Solution:
“In contrast to our hunter-gatherer ancestors , who slept, ate, moved, and connected according to annual seasonal changes , today we sleep poorly and erratically, move infrequently or excessively, eat processed, nutrient poor, and inflammatory foods , and connect artificially while remaining essentially isolated.“
Our bodies have not evolved at the same pace as technology and the expectations which our current way of life demands is, I argue, making us unwell!
When And Why Did We Stop Listening?
Invention and industrialisation including agricultural have served to revolutionise the way we live, stripping the labour out of previously labour intensive tasks. This has meant that we now no longer have to live by the natural cycles of day light and darkness and the seasonal oscillations of expansion in Spring and Summer and contraction in Autumn and Winter. Fast forward to our more recent history and we have undergone a digital revolution with the development of new technology moving so fast it makes our heads spin. The benefits to society cannot be denied; they are profound. And I’m sure no one wants to go back to gas lamps.
All our advances come at a price.
Most of us are living an “Always On” lifestyle, shackled to our smartphones with no clear delineation between work and leisure time and being bombarded with stimulants to “Buy this!”, “Look like that!” etc. A veritable air raid of images which ultimately serve to make us feel “Less Than”.
Is it any wonder we are feeling exhausted, perhaps inadequate and adrift? Our (dare I say unhealthy) relationship with our smart devices which herald to make our lives easier mean that we are never away from the ‘office’, always contactable, eroding our time off and our ability to self-soothe in quiet solitude. I would argue that there is no time or space to hear the inner voice which is urging us “there must be another way!”
How Can We Reconnect To Ourselves And Our World?
The term Yoga is Sanskrit and translates as ‘to yolk or bind’ and it is all encompassing in the sense that through the practice and application of Yogic principles we can reconnect to all the truly important things in life.
In her book, Bringing Yoga To Life, Donna Farhi tells us that through the practice of yoga postures (asanas), we deliberately slow down, and in doing so, find a more natural rhythm that supports our well being. She writes:
“Through the practice of postures we release pent up tensions…we further refine our physical senses so that we become more sensitive, adaptive and resilient…we reacquaint ourselves with the cyclic nature of the breath and its relationship with the sensate wisdom of the body. We learn to inhale completely and open ourselves to new possibilities. We learn to exhale completely and let go of unnecessary tension and the past. And we learn to rest in the pause in between the arising and dissolving cycle.”
If almost all action is based at its root on a spiritual impulse then through the experience of lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic we have the opportunity to really reflect – perhaps there is another way: Acknowledge the longing inside all of us to simply be happy and at peace.
- 4 Season Plan – Dallas Hartwig
- Bringing Yoga To Life – Donna Farhi