energy medicine

Moving from a linear to a cyclical lifestyle - benefits and challenges

More and more people discover that there is something wrong with the way we use our energy. In an era where burnout is rampant, we are called to reflect on how we treat our body and our energy reserves. It seems like while we are having more resources available than ever before, we can’t use them the right way, or do something with it that makes us feel drained and depleted. 

While I was suffering from burnout myself, it felt like a prolonged winter. I had been working hard for years and years and I was expecting that to pay off for me in a big way. Instead, I became sick and my body and mind weren’t able to function normally anymore. 

At first, I didn’t get it. I did everything I was told to do to become successful. “Work hard, don’t be lazy, the effort you put in over time will have a result.” But it didn’t. I felt like a total failure and tried to figure out what was it was that I did so horribly wrong to end up like this, on the couch, unable to take care of my own children, get dressed, get groceries, let alone to go to work.

As I was searching for the answer, I felt like I was in a prolonged Winter and that somebody denied me the next Spring. 

That seasonal analogy and the loathing I felt for this forced Winter broke something open in me. How on Earth was it possible what I had done? I had lived my life like there was no Winter, for decades. And of course, that’s not possible. We are not above Nature. We are Nature.

From there I started to recognize that I had been using my energy in a very linear way. Push, strive, and over time you will see results. I discovered that this way of thinking about success is an illusion, and has its roots in the industrial era, where input x time = output. There are two things that can influence output in this equation, input and time. We cannot bend time (yet), but we can influence input, by doing more, and doing it faster. 

By living my life in a linear way, I separated myself from my cyclical nature as a human, but especially as a woman with a hormonal cycle influencing my personal energy. Setting goals, working as fast as possible towards them, striving and pushing without rest was characterizing my study and career. The irony is, that the last 3 years of my career in healthcare as an operational excellence manager, I was responsible for efficiency and production within the company I worked with. 

I was convinced that pushing is the only way to success and results. Thinking that resting equals ‘being lazy and unproductive’. And I was taught (by men) that ‘waiting time’ equals ‘waste’. In a production process, that might be the case. But for our personal energy, health, and creative processes, it’s a lie. 

I am sure I am not the only one who has been severely conditioned in this way, and the burnout epidemic is showing us exactly that. We are not machines or factories, we are Nature. Nature shows us every day that growth happens within cycles and seasons. Winter is necessary to fertilize the soil for the next growth cycle. 

Now I live my life in a cyclical way, I keep track of where I am in my menstrual cycle and what the Moon phase is, and I take the season into account. The embodiment of Cyclical Living is very personal and takes practice to find out in what ways this works for you. We are not used to living this way, as a society, as women. But the benefits are huge:

-      have more energy and feel rested

-      don’t feel drained, exhausted, or depleted anymore

-      health issues connected to depletion, fatigue, or stress can heal, subside, or give you fewer symptoms

-      no more pushing past your limits

-      less stress, less resentment, and therefore better relationships as a partner, mother, friend, and co-worker

-      established and internalized self-care routine based on your personal hormonal cycle

-      move from creative block to creative flow

-      space to receive inspiration and ideas

-      reach goals effortlessly

-      use your energy towards the things you want to do and create instead of swimming upstream

-      have more impact with less effort

-      make decisions that support a sustainable lifestyle

-      be in touch with your body

-      a deeper connection to Nature.

It’s interesting to find out what your conditioning is around work and success. Changing your lifestyle from linear to cyclical can be challenging, depending on your old stories and behavioral patterns. Dive into the challenges with an open mind, and an open heart. Journal about what comes up for you. The payoff will be a life with more energy and health, less stress and fatigue, and effortless results.

Resistance

Even reading this article may have you thinking that it doesn’t work for you, or that you don’t need it. Or that it’s too difficult, or too weird. That’s resistance, and it’s normal when we are confronted with something different. 

Daring to rest

We have been told that rest is unproductive and lazy. Taking breaks should be short and kept to the bare minimum. We see this in schools already, cutting back on recess. This belief is deeply ingrained in modern life and a real challenge to overcome. Recently, Arianna Huffington and Elon Musk got into a Twitter discussion about this topic, which makes so clear that skipping sleep and rest is treated as a badge of honor in our culture. However, rest is pivotal to growth and inspiration and should be treated with respect and be allowed and even promoted. 

Troubled relationship with your body

From a young age, most women have felt that having their period is annoying, dirty, painful, or makes them incompetent. What we didn’t grow up with, is the power that lies in connecting with this personal energy cycle. Lots of women have been on contraceptives to ease menstrual pain, heavy bleeding, or don’t want to have a period at all. It takes time and self-care to connect to your body in a loving way and feel the power in the feminine cycle. Living with the cycle instead of ignoring or denying it, may even help to relieve symptoms.

Limiting beliefs and deep conditioning

You will find that some beliefs around success, work, and energy are deeply ingrained and take time to break down. You will find that when you are able to look at it with compassion and from a perspective of self-love and self-care, it’s easier to handle and change. And it takes time to create habit changes. New pathways and neural connections are being formed which doesn’t happen overnight.

Other people's expectations

When we change our habits or lifestyle, we will be different as a person. This can create challenges in our relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, because the dynamic changes. People expect you to react or behave a certain way, and if you don’t, it causes confusion. Make sure to explain what you are trying to do, but don’t fall into the trap of defending yourself, or trying to convince that this is the way to live. Focus on what cyclical living does for you and people will see the difference in your energy and maybe they want some of that as well. That’s the moment to discuss it in more details with them. 

Work life

One of the more difficult things when it comes to change from linear to cyclical living is how to move with it the workplace. There is so much linear conditioning in work that you can be pulled back into it easily. The 9-5 rhythm is based on the masculine, solar (daytime) energy cycle and we have to move with it in a way when we are an employee. For self-employed women or entrepreneurs, it can be much easier to implement cyclical living, and it can be taken even further into projects (which also have a growth cycle) or marketing strategy (e.g. based on the Moon cycle). If you are an employee, make sure that you are at least aware of your hormonal cycle and honor that as much as possible. For example, if you have the chance to schedule your appointments or plan important meetings or events, try to line them up with your mid-cycle and avoid them during your (pre-)menstrual days.

As said above, cyclical living has many advantages, but can also be challenging to leave the old linear lifestyle. Journaling and meditation can help to discover resistance and patterns. It’s important to find other women who are on the same journey of honoring the body and their cyclical nature. When you feel stuck in dismantling limiting beliefs around success and rest, you may find it helpful to get a coach, to help you to move forward into a more effortless way of living. 

The productivity myth - why taking a break is vital for your health

The productivity myth - why taking a break is vital for your health

Rest and recovery is vital for our health. Why is taking a break so hard for us? This article gives you insight on the productivity myth, the way we are conditioned to always work and achieve to be successful, how rest is associated with doing nothing, and why that is a lie. We need down-time to prevent burnout, exhaustion, chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, and other depletion syndromes.

Paradigm

Apart from some traumatic events that were quite raw or graphic in nature, there were a few other pivotal moments in my years of medical training that I remember vividly. One of those moments was a lecture on Ethics and Philosophy in my second year of med school which was considered extremely boring by my peers, and to be honest, I thought it was pretty dull too. It was about the role of science in medicine.

*yawn*

Until an unfamiliar word was mentioned. Although I consider myself having a large vocabulary, I had never heard it before. As the Ethics professor spoke on the topic he used the word paradigm.

I believe the context was something like this: "Science as we know it has its rules, regulations, and guidelines to ensure that what is discovered matches the idea of science itself, which is that the truth only exists when we can prove it, using those rules, regulations, and guidelines. When we are not able to prove something, or when we can prove it but it doesn't match the rules, it, therefore, can't be proven. That is the paradigm of science. If we think about the fact that paradigms can change, it is foreseeable that science as we know it, will someday become obsolete, or at least challenged to a large extent."

par·a·digm

(păr′ə-dīm′, -dĭm′)

n.

1. One that serves as a pattern or model.

2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregularverb.

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

This woke me up in a second. What if everything we were taught could change when the rules changed? I couldn't wrap my head around it but this concept of changing paradigms stayed with me over the years. Later, when I was working in science, doing research, reading and writing articles, and people around me were arguing the relevance of their research or trying to convince (or destroy) others with their point of view, it helped me to see the bigger picture. It gave me the perspective and the ability to see science (and 'truth' for a lot of colleagues) for what it was: a temporary set of rules we were working in agreement with until it changed. It made life as a Ph.D. researcher a whole lot easier.

At this moment in history, we live in a world of environmental, economic, political and humanitarian crisis. We see old systems fail. Global warming due to the excessive and disproportionate use of fossil fuels requires investment in sustainable energy sources. The financial system is still trying to overcome the inflation of loans and credits leaving people and organizations bankrupt. Politics is heavily influenced by money and power and lost the connection with the people and core values entirely. While globalization happened and planes can fly us everywhere, we face the largest refugee crisis on the planet. The call for a paradigm change is everywhere. The old systems are dying and we need new structures to be able to continue the evolution of humanity. Today I read about this word 'paradigm' every other day, it seems. We need a new paradigm and it's already happening.

This is also the case in healthcare. People are getting older, but not always healthier or enjoying more quality of life. We have the technology to 'fix' a lot of diseases but it doesn't heal people. We are so disconnected from nature and from our own bodies that we do the wrong things, the things that make us sick, and we forgot how to heal ourselves. Healthcare professionals are trying the best they can, with limited resources, with ever more patients to treat, with less budget from the insurance companies or governments, and the ideological drive of 'helping people' or 'healing others' is worn out, leading to massive amounts of care providers with burnout, mental illness like depression, PTSD, anxiety, addictions and even suicide. We need to acknowledge that the current healthcare system is failing, in order to find other ways. The paradigm needs to shift.

There are many layers of human existence that we are just beginning to understand. Intuition, energy fields, energy systems in the body. Research in the field of quantum physics is showing us that the concepts of energy and matter, consciousness, and manifestation are connected. Concepts the ancient Eastern doctors, yogis, and shamans of the world already knew about thousands of years ago. Ideas and techniques that were abandoned and destroyed, because the patriarchal societal structures of ancient Greece, and later the Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam, were threatened by the innate power these concepts provided to every human being. Submission was forced upon the people, in order to control them for the sake of money and power. And it made humanity ill, in many ways. We need the old ways of healing so desperately. Knowledge of herbs, energy healing, meditation, shamanic journeying, the body-mind connection, spiritual healing, the power of intention and manifestation ('magic'). Not with the purpose of going back in time, in this day and age it's needed for progress and evolution. Western medicine has brought us so many technological and biological progress if we are able to connect that to the field of energy, quantum physics and natural healing this will lead to a huge step in the evolution of medicine and healthcare.

I'm looking forward to it, I'm convinced it will come in the next 50 years. The paradigm is changing. And it's changing fast.

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in the most primitive form - this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness. The Cosmic religious experience is the strongest and oldest mainspring of scientific research. My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.

- Albert Einstein

Are you aligned?

You have probably heard of the newest buzz word in town that seems to be the solution to every single problem, and the answer to every failure.

--- ALIGNMENT---

The truth is, bad things don't happen because we are not 'aligned'. That's a weird way of looking at life. We are trying to make the best of our lives and sometimes we fail, falter, meet roadblocks or life is getting in the way of your plans, because you get sick, or there is some major life event happening for you. It's not that we can avoid all sources of pain. It teaches us what we need to know to evolve.

So when you hear something like "Oh, you didn't succeed in your project? It must have been misaligned with your true calling." please let it go immediately. Because this way of looking at alignment sounds ridiculous and remarks like above are not helpful at all.

However, there is a true part to being misaligned and the blockages in life. As I was living a severely misaligned life for a long time I experienced a lot of extremely hard situations, which I didn't quite understand because I was constantly trying to work hard, do my best and make the best decisions I could possibly think of. However, things went awry and the last 3 years everything came down crashing down around me, relationship, work, everything at the same time. The only way to get through this mess (I thought) was to continue my old coping strategies of thinking things through, making lists, and fighting for a good outcome. Although I felt like I was doing the right things, and moving forward, the only thing that could make it all better was not holding on to striving and fighting the situations I was in, but letting go. I had to steer myself away from the things that were holding me back.

To find out whether you are in alignment click here

Letting go sounds so easy. "Just let go and everything will work out fine!"

Well, eh... letting go isn't an easy thing to do, because it isn't an active verb, let alone the fear that comes along with it. When your life isn't working out while you are busy planning, deciding, organising and coping, the scariest step to take is to let it all go. That's just not  something  your mind can do actively - ah, well today I'm just gonna let it all go - that's just not how it works. The more you want to let go, the harder it gets, the more anxious you get. That's because ego wants to protect you and gets in the way. It starts screaming in your ear that you can't, shouldn't, all will go down in flames, and so on. It's makes it impossible to hear the whispers of your heart, or to understand your gut's language of intuition. The only thing you listen to is the fear, the scary thoughts and disastrous scenarios playing out in your head.

For me this wheel of negative thoughts, fear, obstacles, conflicts led to illness. My body started to protest, I became very tired and hyper at the same time, I couldn't cycle without chest pain, I couldn't breathe properly. My body was signaling to me that I had to change but I didn't hear what it was saying. My body stopped me in my tracks by creating a situation which forced me out of it all. Because clearly, my mind/heart wasn't going to take the steps.

There had been severe misalignment between my body, my mind, my heart and my Soul. Those are all different layers of our being and in order to be happy, healthy and fully functional as a human being they need to be aligned as much as possible. When we are tired, we need to rest. When we are hungry, we need to eat. When we are not hungry, we shouldn't eat. This also means that when you are coping with chronic illness or a stressful situation you will have to align your plans, expectations and activities because there is a limitation somewhere in one of the layers. It sounds very simple but we're largely overriding the signals in our modern lives. When we do that for a long time, one or more of the layers of our being will be complaining and acting up. We call this 'symptoms'. We then start looking for a physical cause, but maybe it's just a misalignment between the layers.

During recovery, I learned how to take care of my body and how to listen to it again. I had to reset myself and start from zero, bed rest in my case. And not beating myself up for being in this situation I created myself by pushing and striving and fighting. That took me a while to be honest, to let go of the fighting mindset, towards myself. Self care and compassion is the most important thing to do, especially when you are healing.

Letting go just happened. I don't know when exactly.

She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~ excerpt of 'She let go' by Rev. Safire Rose

When I gave up fighting, stopped trying, took plenty of rest and healed my body, I truly allowed alignment to happen. The only way to do this is to listen to the signs of your layers and stop doing things that make you feel misaligned and miserable. If you check in with yourself daily, you will begin to notice. And then, one morning, you wake up, and you let go. Slowly, I began to feel subtle differences in what was working and what was going against the flow. My intuition began to show me the way. I felt overcome with joy, because I could see the light again at the end of the tunnel. In learning a new way of living, by listening and acting upon it, I ditched the old ways of being misaligned.

It's not always easy and I still get sucked in by daily life but I am capable of pulling myself out of it. I recognise I'm not aligned anymore. For me that shows up as fatigue, tiredness, tension in my chest, breathing uneasy or just generally feeling 'meh' or emotionally dull. Noting this enables me to consciously make better decisions and take care of myself. I know it's time to stop what I'm doing because I'm in a mode of striving instead of allowing, and it's killing the flow of energy. And sometimes it just means going to bed at 8 pm to get some rest.

 

A fish on land

Fish on land do not live a healthy and prosperous life. When out of the water they desperately try to crawl back into the stream. That's their nature, their reflex. A fish's body knows what to do when placed on land, although it has little brain to think about it extensively.

We humans have a problem. It is called 'the mind'. And we tend to overrate it immensely.

Humans consist of multiple energy layers, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual body. The mental body (mind) is only one of them. We are usually not aware of this, discerning the layers one by one takes time, practice and awareness of the way the layers communicate.

In our hectic, modern, day-to-day lives, we don't have the time to be present and listen to the different layers. We only listen to our mind, our thoughts. Planning and orchestrating our daily activities, monthly plans and year-ahead-project schedules.

Being only one of the layers, the mind is trying to steal the show for the others layers. They don't get enough air time (it's funny that thoughts are associated with the element air...). Moreover, the layers are connected to each other. Our thoughts are connected to our emotions, we feel sad when we think sad thoughts and we think negative when we are feeling down. We decide to skip lunch because of a meeting we have and we completely ignore the signs of our physical layer that it needs to be nourished. The mind constantly tries to control our emotions and our bodies in order to survive and make rational decisions. This ability of the mind gives us tremendous power in structuring our lives and inspired humanity in achieving great technological advances. The downside is that we think our mind is superior. We let the fish think about its strategy to much.

Our mind is not superior to the other energy layers. It's just a tool to manifest direction. Just like the body is flesh and blood but also a tool to manifest hopes and dreams, plans and ideas.

Without our body we would be an idea that never happens. The idea of which we *think* that it originated from our thoughts, that we ourselves came up with it. Knowing that our minds are only a bunch of interconnected neurons, it's hard to understand why we consider those electric signals inside our brains to be our personal, private thoughts.

How does our brain cells know what we want from life? What we are here for? What makes us happy and what lights us up? That's where Spirit or Soul or Higher Self comes in. A force that just knows and is in all of us. The force that makes the fish crawl back to the water. It guides us towards our purpose. It's pure consciousness and we humans are trying to express that consciousness through energy, emotions and thoughts as signals in our brain, turned into matter through our physical body into action or creation.

When we are imbalanced, this conscious manifestation along the lines of purpose becomes impaired. We don't hear, feel, sense our Higher Self anymore. We don't notice the misalignment. We even do things that go against our alignment with our Higher Self, very often, persistently. We stay in situations that we should run away from. We are like a fish that lays still on the shore, thinking and re-thinking it's strategy and the reasons it should stay on the shore although it's dying. It's so easy to understand why we feel stagnation in your lives, why we are running around in circles, living and re-living the same patterns over and over. And why more imbalances and illness arise.

When we are not aligned, we are out of balance. We can be imbalanced in all layers, people like me, intellectually trained and used to analytical thinking, have the tendency to overthink and overuse the mental body. It becomes too important, we are not in touch with our emotions anymore and not aware of our bodies. Others have an overused emotional body. They tend to react emotionally to difficult situations and don't know how to change their lives for the better. This can lead to emotional instability, inability to make decisions or constantly feeling 'too emotional to think'. Overused physical bodies send us signals about constantly having to move, and exercise, and being in the present, being still can cause a person to feel very restless. Another example of an over expression of the bodily layer is the perception of all the bodily signals by the brain as equally important, leading to all kinds of physical complaints like sensory overstimulation, pain, overwhelming bodily sensations. The brain isn't able to filter the signals, because the body had to turn up the volume to max to reach the brain. Sometimes we only see the imbalance appear when one of the layers quits for a while. For example when we have a concussion and our mental function is distorted for a few weeks. Of when we are forced to stop exercising due to an injury of some sort.

In order to fulfill our highest potential, all layers, mind, emotion, body and spirit, must be aligned. You can't make a fish sit on land for a long time. If you do, it dies gasping. Likewise, if we humans don't listen and are refusing to crawl back towards the natural flow, stagnation happens, we falter, things are harder, we gasp for air and sometimes we are so persevering that we even become ill... or worse.

The different layers of our Being have a language of their own. They communicate whether we are the fish in the water, or the fish on land. Misalignment truly is communicated to us. Make sure you listen.