On some intuitive level, I have always known that we need rhythms. Rudolf Steiner talks about that particularly with regard to young children, but I think it actually never changes. We need a certain level of structure (certainty) to be able to develop our freedom (variety).
Despite knowing this, as an Aquarian, I struggle with routines. I guess I get bored easily.
Over the last couple of months - with some of the form removed, i.e. no longer being tied to fixed working hours (but even before that) - I have made a renewed effort to pay more attention to rhythms. And guess what - I feel a lot saner already.
Here are some ideas:
1. Celebrate the seasons.
The garden is the obvious place to observe the seasons. Seasons give us a great rhythmic pattern and as a gardener you will all be aware of this. As we advance through the year, we go through a progression of tasks that may vary in detail but repeat annually. Working with the plants and soil makes us more aware of the seasons - and vice versa, the progression of months make us aware of the tasks that await us in the garden (or, in my case, the ones we have fallen behind on).
Another great way to acknowledge the seasons to celebrate. A lot of our holiday traditions go back to seasonal events and I believe - among the commercial hustle and bustle - it's good to remember these. For those of us here in the Southern Hemisphere, this may mean turning things onto it's head.
We have just passed 'Halloween' which is actually the seasonal festival of Samhain - the dying down of life at the end of the summer and the veils between the worlds lifting for spirits to pass through. Hence the scary costumes. Here in the Southern Hemisphere - at the beginning of summer, when everything is brimming with life - this doesn't make much sense. What is more true for us is the opposing festival of Beltane, the awakening and celebration of life, the fire of the sun etc. Whether you choose to participate in the Halloween craze or not - it's good to know that and maybe it'll put a slightly different flavor to your activities.
2. Welcome the moon into your life
Nature loves fractals, so from the macrocosm of the year, we can look into the course of each month, week or day.
So here's a question for you: when is the next full moon? Is it part of your awareness?
For the gardener, the moon phases provide a wonderful rhythm - not to do with witchcraft at all (unless you want it to), but with the moons gravitational field and it's effect on moisture levels in the soil. The waxing moon is the time for planting, the waning moon the time for weeding (roughly) - and boom: you have a great rhythm and structure for what to focus on at any given time. Instant sanity. If you've never gardened by the moon phases, I highly recommend you give it a try - not only for the beneficial effect is has on the plants, but mostly, for the beneficial effect it has on YOU.
If you're unsure, there are great moon phase calendars on the web and Koanga Institute have a great garden calendar adapted to the moon phases.
But even is you're not so focused on gardening, the moon will give all sorts of clues: often having an effect on the quality of our sleep, on our appetite (ever noticed that?!) and - for the ladies - often syncing in some way with our menstrual cycles.
3. Design your perfect week
Drilling down into detail even more, I think our mind benefits from weekly rhythms as well - for me this is true in the sense that it feels good to have a balance of activities throughout the week. Focusing on different things on different days of the week (Saturday: cleaning day, etc) helps give me enough variety to not get bored, but enough structure to not get stressed over having to re-invent myself all the time. Which doesn't mean that I don't divert from it all on a regular basis. Life happens, you know. But a general structure is helpful - and, to be honest, would probably be even more helpful if I stuck to it more.
I even sat down and drew myself a 'my perfect week' calendar - scheduling in all the different things I want to (or need to) take care of on a regular basis. You can use google calendar for this - just create a new calendar and map away. When doing this exercise, make sure you schedule your 'me' time in first - and all the self-care activities you want to happen. And don't forget the kids and family time. Once you have done that, use the time that is left for work etc - and you'll probably find you're heaps more efficient if you limit the time you make available for stuff.
(By the way, if you're struggling with social media distractions - check out this blog post over at FLC!)
Speaking of weekly schedules, when the kids were younger, I also used to have a weekly meals calendar and, while I don't feel I need it so much anymore, I still recommend it frequently for people who are just starting out on their 'healthy food' journey, in particular weaning themselves from ending up with take-aways. Again, I'm not one to plan to a high level of detail, but it was good for me to have a plan along the lines of:
Monday - Pasta
Tuesday - Stir fry
Wednesday - Soup
Thursday - Casserole
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Meat
Sunday - leftovers
- or, whatever works for you.
To prepare all this, I'd use whatever I had (I rarely use recipe books) - usually seasonal, fresh produce from the garden and my kitchen staples. For me, just having this little map alleviated the dreaded 'What am I going to do for dinner?' question.
4. Pick your favorite daily routines
Daily routines... that's an interesting one. Again, I'm Aquarius, so when I hear daily routine, I run. And even with the best intention setting, I have never really managed to stick to doing anything consistently each day for any length of time.
However, with increasing age and wisdom (and, more so: technology) I would say I have recently passed my bachelor's degree in daily routine: I'm on day 93 of my 30 day yoga challenge (the amazing Candace is my new virtual friend who visits every day around 9pm) and I'm even not doing to badly on my 30 day fitness challenge (on day 87, but I admit on missing a few here and there on that one). Oh - and my daily planning journal gets attention about 5 out of 7 days. For me, that's a revolution.
What's helped me was using my inner perfectionist to keep me honest. I downloaded 'Habithub' onto my phone, which not only reminds me every day of my chosen tasks - but also relentlessly demonstrates my weekly and monthly overview through a series of either green (done), blue (skipped) or red (failed) dots. Turns out, my inner perfectionist can't accept the blue or (gasp!) red dots messing up that beautiful row of green. Better do it. Funny how we work sometimes.
Of course your own routines may differ completely - choose the ones that work for you, and train yourself to follow them - even just a few minutes each day. Daily gratitude is another great one.
5. Breathe :-)
Last not least, working our way down through the world of rhythms, bringing our attention back to the rhythm of our breath can work true magic in times of stress and busyness. Just spending a few minutes observing the natural flow of our breath can bring us back into the present moment. One of my favourite things to do in the garden, actually.
With all that in mind, I have decided to give the celebration of rhythms a bit more space here at the Rabbithole. This month, I'm launching a full moon women's only circle - combined this month with celebrating Beltane (a campfire by the river seems in order) - and I will be making a point of marking the festivals at least via a facebook post and potentially with seasonal events - if you're local and keen for that, please let me know or come along.