“We are blessed with inner rhythms that tell us where we are, and where we are going. No matter, then, our fifty and sixty hour work weeks, the refusing to stop for lunch, the bypassing sleep and working deep into the darkness. If we stop, if we return to rest, our natural state reasserts itself. Our natural wisdom and balance come to our aid, and we can find our way to what is good, necessary and true.”—Wayne Muller
I was reminded this morning in my aerobics class about the importance of times of recovery in the midst of intensity. Throughout the hour workout the instructor took us through rhythmic periods of high intensity and slower periods of recovery. It has long been an understanding in the fitness industry that the body works most optimally, physically and psychologically, when there are rhythms of hard effort followed by restful recovery. If we do not rest in between workouts, there is not enough time for healing and reenergizing to occur and this kind of continuous effort actually does more harm than good.Highlighting this critical component, one website even stated, “Your muscles only grow during rest.” (www.healthboards.com)
We find these same kinds of pre-established rhythms operating in all of our natural world. There is the tidal rhythm between land and sea. There is the daily rhythm of night and day. As we are now experiencing shorter and cooler days of fall we are reminded of the seasonal rhythms from the energies of spring and summer and the necessary dormancy of fall and winter.
There are similar crucial rhythms of the soul. There is the divinely-established rhythm between work and Sabbath rest. Fruitful doing is rooted in restful being. Words that have not been formed in silence become meaningless. Engagement with others becomes life-giving when we come from a place of retreat with God. Being alone with God allows us to be fully present to others.
These are the sacred rhythms that form us and allow us to live joyful fruitful lives. While symptoms of physical overtraining that occur from a lack of recovery time include a feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury, among others, when our soul is neglected its natural rhythms of well-being, as Thomas Moore wrote,”it doesn’t just go away. It appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence and loss of meaning.”
Someone wisely wrote this short prescriptive summary: “Divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually.” (Unknown)
What healthy or unhealthy rhythms have formed your soul?