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The Secret to Effortless Living? Find Your Rhythm

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Don't you feel great when you're in the swing of things?

You know how great it feels to be dancing to your favorite song, totally grooving out, hips swaying, head bobbing, limbs moving in time to the music. But if you've ever found yourself clapping on an off beat or in the midst of dancers who seem to be one step ahead of you, you know how disorienting it can be when you get off track. You feel out of sorts, isolated, maybe a little dorky.

Rhythm Is a Dancer

The same is true in life. Everything on the planet moves to a predetermined rhythm of expansion and contraction. Every inhale is followed by an exhale, every crashing wave is followed by a pull back toward the ocean. Night follows day, spring follows winter… and it's currently all I can do not to type the words "to everything turn, turn, turn."

When you are in sync with the rhythm of expansion (think exertion, action, energy-requiring) followed by contraction (think quiet, relaxation, and energy-building), challenges don't feel insurmountable and you can get lots done while still having the time and mindshare to enjoy the little things, like a bedtime conversation with your child or a particularly sweet-smelling breeze. The problem is, we tend to exist on only one speed—full throttle—until we collapse. If this pace were a song, it would be death metal. Not exactly easy to dance to.

The Right Rhythm=Less Effort

To make your life feel as effortless as dancing to your favorite song, be mindful of what kind of rhythm you have. Are all your days crazy busy? Or do you push it during the week but then act like a slug all weekend? Can you find ways to insert meaningful pauses in to your days – with a bath before bed, lunch outside in a park, or a quiet cup of tea in the afternoon – and weeks – perhaps a sacred Saturday afternoon nap, or a Monday night date with your favorite book – to help keep you more in balance?

What I Do to Shift Rhythms

During the day, I aim to give myself 20 minutes of quiet time sitting in our front yard after I've stopped working and before my toddler gets home from being out with her sitter. And Friday nights are dedicated to pure relaxation—I light a candle, drag out my yoga bolster, do a few restorative yoga poses, give myself a tennis ball massage, and finish it all up with a glass of wine (hey, everything in moderation, right?). It helps me segue from the hectic, regimented rhythm of the week to the looser, slower pace of the weekend.

How do you build quiet time in to your days and weeks? How would you describe your own personal rhythm—easy listening or techno? I'd love to hear how you do (or do not) manage to keep a sustainable beat!

Kate Hanley is a regular contributor to Whole Living, a passionate yogi, and the author of The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide. She's also founder of msmindbody.com.

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Comments (4)

  • Great post! It's so easy to get caught up in the fast-paced world around us and lose our rhythm. For me, I enjoy beginning my day with movement. I listen to my body and depending on what it needs that day, I do yoga, dance, do resistance work or embrace some energetic cardio. It's the only way I know how to start my day, and it feels great!

    I look forward to reading more from you,
    author & lifestyle designer

  • Thanks Cailen! Love that your rhythm often involves actual rhythm. Also love that you listen to your body and then give it what it's telling you it needs. Wise woman. :)

  • [...] The Secret to Effortless Living “We tend to exist on only one speed – full throttle – until we collapse. If this pace were a song, it would be death metal. Not exactly easy to dance to.” [Kate Hanley, Whole Living] This entry was posted in Sunday Morning. Bookmark the permalink. ← Quote Of The Day: 10.16.10 Quote Of The Day: 10.17.10 → [...]

  • [...] College of Medicine found that older adults who took part in certain leisure activities, like dancing, experience reduced rates of cognitive [...]

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