The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rhythm as:
‘movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements’
An alternate definition more related to the body is:
Personally, I like the first one better.
I find that it doesn’t really matter if you use the word rhythm or pattern or routine or schedule. The point is a regular event or sequence of events. I like to use the word rhythm because to me it evokes a kind flowing feeling that carries both flexibility and predictability.
You might be most familiar with the concept because of music
– but rhythm is everywhere.
As a parent I’ve learned, rather quickly, over the last couple of years how crucial rhythm is for babies and toddlers (and my mental health!). And I’ve noticed that as younger kids thrive on it - so do adults. Think about it. You wake up in the morning and have your morning coffee (or tea) and it’s a non negotiable daily ritual. Or you just can’t focus unless you do your workout however many times a week. You need to go to bed at a certain time or you get real hangry if you don’t eat every two-three hours. This list could go on - you fill in the rest.
We find rhythm on a large scale in the world with the changing of the seasons. The waxing and waning of the moon. The tides of the ocean. And also in a smaller scale, contained within ourselves.
Our bodies are full of rhythms.
Just think about it. Sleep is managed by your circadian rhythm. Those of us with a menstrual cycle experience a monthly rhythm. Our heartbeat has its own rhythm as do our breaths. Digestion could be considered a rhythm, as your body routinely processes food and using peristaltic waves passes it through your body. Some research has shown that there is even a rhythm in changes to breast milk composition on a daily basis!
Rhythm in the body is a big concept in anthroposophical medicine. Anthroposophy is a viewpoint that stems from the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, who is also known for his work within the Waldorf educational realm and biodynamic agriculture. When applied as a lens with which to view medicine and health, it looks at the human as a multifaceted being - a three-fold human being. The philosophy gets a little complex (I may delve into it in the future), but suffice to say, the second aspect of the human is considered to be the rhythmic being.
To me this just emphasizes how integral rhythm is to us.
Why does this matter?
When you hear an off key note in a song you think - oh that sounds terrible! Something went wrong there!
When the rhythms of our body are out of sync or not functioning, it is a sign to let us know that something is amiss. I view this as an invitation to look deeper; what external or internal factors are influencing these rhythms and pushing them off key? How can we restore the natural rhythm of the body for more harmonious functioning and a balanced life?
Rhythm is key to our wellbeing, inside and out.
It soothes us and provides a steadying force with which to face the ups and downs of life.
So check in with your rhythms and reach out if you need support. I’m always here.