“If a man does not keep the pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer.”
The room was electric with laughter. Forty nine out of fifty people were hitting the drum at exactly the same time, creating a powerful pulse – except for Janice. It became a comedy. At this point in the team building drum program I was facilitating my instruction was that on the count of five, we all hit the drum together and then continue…1, 2, 3, 4, “BOOM” 2, 3, 4, “BOOM” 2, 3, 4, “BOOM.” It is actually a very poignant moment when a room full of sometimes hundreds of people that have never drummed before come together and synchronize, everyone hitting the drum at the same time. In most events, one or two people miss the beat on occasion which is a learning moment because everyone can really feel it when someone is off and it then becomes a team building metaphor. But within seconds with the support of the group, everyone always synchs up again. But not this time, not for Janice!
I have presented over 300 events with Drum Café and this was a first time experience for me. You see, Janice was hitting the drum on 6, instead of 5. No matter what I did, no matter what my team did, no matter what all forty nine of her coworkers did to help her see she was “off” she just couldn’t feel it. To her, she was hitting the drum exactly when she was supposed too and for whatever reason, she did not hear the difference. We were all in hysterics over this because she just had a bewildered look on her face like “what are you all laughing at?”
I guess you could say Janice heard the beat of another drummer. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We all got a kick out of it, but in all seriousness, there is more than just a team building metaphor to be gleaned from this, but also a lesson on the significant magnitude of knowing our personal cycles, our unique rhythm and then following that all important pathway of our own music.
Each of us has our own unique cycles – our personal inner seasons. Our energy ebbs and flows within its own unique rhythm. The more tuned in we are to our individual cycles, the more we can observe that they are often aligned with another cycle around us, which can give us clues on understanding how to live our life with the most serenity. For example, all energy on earth – human animal and otherwise – waxes and wanes with the moon. So many people are unaware of this and then wonder why they might have lower energy during the waning stage. In fact, when women’s menstrual cycles are left to occur naturally without synthetic hormones, they will often align with the moon phases. Imagine the serenity, for both men and women, from understanding this wisdom.
In Cherokee, there is a chant I like to use in ritual “To hi u a lu ni” [too–he–ew–ah- lou-knee). This translates as Serenity It Resounds! I love this because when we surrender to our cycles and rhythms, our own inner seasons, serenity resounds. When we stop trying to compare ourselves with others and honor and accept our beautiful uniqueness we strip away a huge element of incredible pressure and strain. Also, when we honor the diversity of the different cycles and rhythms amongst each other, we save ourselves the madness of misunderstanding and the insanity of trying to insist that someone fit into a cycle that is not natural for them. Or worst of all, trying to realign our own cycles in an unnatural way.
Let me offer an example. I know that at this point in my life, I function at my highest potential when I can go to bed early, get a minimum of eight ours of sleep, and wake up with the sun. This requires intention and direction to carry out. Ironically, at the very moment I am writing this, I get a text from Drum Café’s logistics manager about a flight to Seattle in April. I fly in the night before with an early morning gig. She had me landing at 11:30PM! So, I asked her if she could please get me in earlier. She texted me back stating that there was a flight getting in at 5:00PM, then said “but that seems so early to me.” I told her that was perfect for me. Clearly her cycles are quite different from mine. Neither are right or wrong but when we are aware of our own cycles, we then become aware of others’ and this wisdom can mean the difference between stress and serenity.
Returning briefly to the subject of women’s bodies, I would like to share with you an excerpt from a powerful article written by fellow blogger Lisa Erickson from her blogspace “Mommy Mystic” – http://mommymystic.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/the-energetics-of-midlife-burning-in-the-fire: “our subtle body follows a predictable pattern of centrifugal and centripetal action corresponding to our menstrual cycle. In the 2 weeks or so leading up to ovulation, our subtle body shifts towards a more outward, expressive, emanating mode – what some call the ‘intention’ phase of our cycle. In the following 2 weeks or so leading into menstruation, this reverses, and our energy gradually becomes more inward-focused, absorbent, and receptive – sometimes called the ‘intuitive’ phase.”
This awareness can change lives! When I discovered that for me personally, I need to go into an introverted, introspective, somewhat secluded phase just prior to my moon time my life shifted. I decided to honor this cycle in any way I could. I don’t apologize for taking a day or two to do very little if any work during that time (when I can of course). I have no regrets for avoiding social gatherings and just enjoying the secluded serenity of my garden. And I don’t think twice about sequestering myself as possible during those few days. If I don’t honor this cycle, PMS takes over and shoos everyone away in a not-so-nice way and serenity leaves the building!
Can you see the bigger picture here and apply this wisdom to other cycles? Imagine the peace this awareness could render if families everywhere took the time to go within and understand their own cycles and rhythms? This understanding of individual inner seasons applies to everyone, every gender, every age. So similarly, we all might feel the cycle of wanting to hunker down and go within during the winter alternated by the desire to be out and about more during the summer. But how many times have we dishonored these natural tendencies? How many times have we talked ourselves into something that we were not feeling only to regret it later?
There is a rhythm to every inner season and cycle of our life. Rhythm surrounds us. We eat, sleep, work, and play to a rhythm. There is a rhythm to our daily life and our work environment. You know the cool and groovy feeling that permeates your being when you are aligned with that rhythm. Everything flows smoothly. You also know the failing, chaotic sensation of being out of synch. The rhythms of the cycles are always changing. Sometimes we just have to stop everything for a minute. Take a breath, go within and ask ourselves, “How can I support the cycle in my life right now that is trying to get my attention? How can I resynchronize with the rhythm?”
Your cycles and the rhythms of those cycles will shift and change throughout your life. By living in awareness and tuning into your inner wisdom, you will know the right pathway to take at the right time to honor your cycles. Don’t be afraid to slow way down. Life is not a marathon, it is meant to be sipped and savored like a cup of something delicious. It is not intended to sprint through. If that’s your story, consider a rewriting. Sometimes we need to downshift and sweep away any time-sucking debris that is keeping us from the leisure necessary to be in tune with our inner seasons. Don’t underestimate the power of contemplating the leaves. In that space, serenity resounds.
I would love to hear from you. What cycles have you discovered for yourself? Have you found your serenity groove? What struggles do you have in falling into synch with your inner seasons? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
In Rhythm & Harmony,