If you’re like me, you have come to an uncomfortable realization, on more than one occasion: life is stressful.
It is stressful. And it is hectic. Sure, you have times throughout your life where everything feels like it is going well. You have energy, you have tons of creativity, you have periods of high productivity. But you also have cycles of irritability, of moodiness. Low energy. Depression. At times, all things that are going wrong seem to be more wrong than usual. The weight of a dysfunctional world, wars over oil and religion, horrific crimes that riddle our communities, on-going economic and environmental crises. Work is overwhelming, relationships are taxing and you don’t feel like you fit into the current paradigm.There is a sort of cultural insanity that has turned us into a nation on Prozac and Adderall. Chronically over-medicated and spiritually under-nourished.
We each have our own unique cyclic energy pattern. Times of high energy and productivity give way to times of low energy and depressive emotion. Learning how to productively channel both the peaks and the troughs of our personal energy wave cycles will completely change the course of our lives.
Even the most balanced, most productive and most effective people have their cycles. Cycles are deeply integrated into life. We cannot escape them. Mother earth cycles from Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter and around again. The moon cycles around us. We cycle around the sun. Life cycles from birth to death and back again.
People with cycles that manifest more extremely, often end up with clinical diagnosis of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other forms of what the western medical world would categorize as “mood disorders”. Antidepressants, antianxiety medications and other pharmaceuticals are prescribed at record rates today. In 2012 nearly 10% of American children under the age of 17 were prescribed medication for mental health issues. In 2013, 40 million adult Americans were being treated for anxiety disorder and 6 million were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. One in 10 Americans are clinically depressed and those number of patients diagnosed with depression is growing at a rate of 20% each year. While severe cases of such disorders and conditions may not be manageable without professional medical supervision, some people may have more ability to harness and adjust their own experience than they thought they did. Perhaps instead of viewing the peaks and troughs as scary and unmanageable, we could change our perspectives of the highs and lows and begin to embrace them as gifts.
Many people have learned how to utilize their peaks in ways that are highly productive and beneficial. It’s the troughs that often give us the most problems. The lows.
Lets take the cycle of the seasons as an example of this. Just as we have our lows, deep winter is the low trough for the earth. And during these lows, the pains of life seem to be magnified for some. What many people don’t realize is that winter is a very powerful time. It is a symbolic cycle of life, death and rebirth, of disintegration and renewal. The cycle that controls all Life on the earth, including me and you.
At the coldest, darkest moment when motion ceases, the pendulum stops at its highest point in preparation for a return, then heads back the other direction, and the ceaseless cycling of the seasons continues. At the same moment, deep under the layers of snow and ice, life begins to stir again. Animals go into hibernation and seeds sleep deep beneath the snow. They will not move until the spring, but deep within them a process has begun again. There is an infinite contraction of energy that the long nights and cold, short days reflect. When this energy reaches its limit, and the cycle reverses itself. From that moment on, even though the winter will continue to gather strength and unfold as it must… the spring has been born. And with the birth of spring… the seeds of summer are sown, and within those seeds lies the energy of the harvests of summer.. in-utero within the womb of mother earth.
The low energy cycles can be dark and trying. The troughs of our waves will repeat in our life again and again. No matter how down we feel, how unmotivated, how overwhelmed, depressed, tired and uninspired, that energy pattern will reach its inmost movement, spend its energy, and from that journey another begins—a journey towards warmth. Towards inspiration. Towards light. One cycle will always follow the other, they do not exist apart. Together they are the foundation of unity within the wheel of life as it moves from fertility to birth to death to rebirth. It is the circular orbit of both the seasons and our individual existences. Just like the divine symbol of balance, yin yang, shows that every field of light has a black hole, and within the darkness, there is a center of light.
These seasons of the year, and seasons of your life, come and go, complete themselves and give way to each other whether you are aware of the dynamics that controls them or not. If you are not, your energy patterns appear to have lives of their own and you forget they are each part of a cycle—a cycle that you have encountered many times before and will encounter many times again. Your life is built on this cycle of peaks and troughs — and on the continual repetition of them. The arrival of your metaphorical winter shouldn’t be lamented, it should be rejoiced and celebrated as a time of rest that will initiate the coming of new light and life. When you are aware of this cycle, you can participate in it. You can recognize the gift in them, utilize the time you are given to regenerate and you can plant the seeds that will sprout when the peaks arise again. You can contribute your intelligence and wisdom and will… to the intelligence and movement of a dynamic larger than you.
The troughs in our energy waves are there for an important reason. The low energy cycle is a very powerful and important time for healing and regeneration. In nature’s troughs, animals hibernate. Seeds sleep. Just as we sleep during the troughs of our day and night cycle. Our bodies NEED that time to replenish our stores. It is the perfect time for restorative and regenerative practices.Cleanses, meditation, yoga. It is the perfect time for more rest, more sleep. A balanced sleep pattern is one of the most important aspects to mental health. When we learn to know our bodies and our energetic cycles we can begin to connect ourselves more completely to the source.
This is the power of our metaphoric deep winters…. They challenge us, confront us, and show us what we can and must change in ourselves. These ‘winters’ are holy and precious seasons. And they illuminate your holy and precious life. It is your potential beckoning to you…disguised as depression, as stress, as anxiety as confusion, tricking us into becoming our own unmotivated adversary. Will they adversely shape your experience, or will you shape your experience of it? Will your fears overwhelm you, or will they show you new and different ways to respond to them?
Our cycles represent a sacred window, an opening, a gap in the fabric of our consciousness, during which we can come to terms with our past, connect with our purpose, listen to our guidance, and prepare psychologically for the gradual movement into the next phase.
It’s always darkest before the dawn.