Our bodies, much like events in our lives, have different natural times. Becoming aware and respecting the wisdom of natural time inside and out can help us become truer to ourselves and truer to reality, whether we like it or not. And as Gloria Steinem once said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
In Nia, a movement form I teach, we use the principle of natural time to help build our capacity to respect our body’s natural need for different rhythms. There are moments when our bodies crave activation, agitation and extending our energy outward. There are other moments when our bodies crave slower, more fluid movements and bringing our energy inward. When we are willing and able to sense and honor signals from our bodies, we open up to their wisdom and whatever speed serves us best at any given moment. This is inner natural time.
There is also an outer natural time that may not always be in sync with our inner natural time or how we would prefer that events in our lives unfold. Some events move at a pace faster than we would like, others so slow we can hardly stand it. This natural time feels as if it is dictated from a force outside of us. We often resist this natural time out of fear or a desire to manipulate reality so as to create a false sense of control. This natural rhythm of events has its own wisdom. It is also important to honor it in order to be able to move through the twists and turns of life with greater ease.
Two pivotal events in my life were unfolding at totally different rhythms and it felt as if I was on a non-ending roller coaster ride. I experienced firsthand the unnecessary stress I create when I resist natural time. Once I decided to end my marriage for example, the administrative and legal process progressed at lightning speed. Suddenly it was going much faster than my mind and emotional body felt comfortable with. I began second guessing my decision, trying to manipulate the situation so I would not have to feel or face the painful consequences of my choice. It felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, the part that feels like a free fall. The ride suddenly gains fierce momentum and when you resist, it literally feels like you have lost your ground. My attempts at slowing down this strong, direct flow exhausted me. I knew that no matter how painful, the choice to divorce fit. So what would be the purpose or wisdom of slowing its process down except to avoid reality and the emotions (sadness, anger, shame, hopelessness) that came with it?
At the same time, the process of giving shape to the next phase of my life was progressing at a turtle’s pace, one that my mind and emotional body could barely tolerate. I was on the same roller coaster ride but this time on the part when you hold your breath because you feel suspended in time, in anticipation of the free fall. My regular attempts at trying to speed up the slow when fears and insecurities rose up in me were equally exhausting. I knew I was not ready to make any big decisions about my next steps, so what was the point of speeding up the process except for creating a false sense of security and not wanting to feel the anxiety, fear, impatience, self-sabotage that was welling up in me?
Through my own experience, I am staunchly reminded that when we resist the natural time of events, we lose our sense of physical, mental and emotional balance and our spirit is dampened. Learning to trust and surrender to natural time, whether from inside or out, is a profound practice that has the potential of helping us deal with whatever comes with greater agility and resilience. However, in order to adapt to these various rhythms, we need to teach our bodies how to move at different speeds and to tolerate them by sensing the gifts they have to offer. Practicing movement forms that invite us to move fast or slow or both or simply at speeds we are not accustomed to can help.
My default is moving quickly and explosively. This helps me focus and get things done. Practicing how to be in slow gear helps me ground myself and be more present and open up to the moment. As I become more adept at moving at different speeds, I become more adept at honoring natural time, whether it is induced from inside or out.
Lissa Rankin, author of Anatomy of a Calling, explains it simply and beautifully:
I know it feels like it’s all happening too fast.
I know it feels like it’s happening too slow.
But trust me darling.
It’s all happening at exactly the perfect speed, in divine timing, just as it should.
If it happened more slowly you wouldn’t be fast-tracked on your journey the way you are meant to be fast tracked.
If it happened more quickly, you might not be prepared in your personal growth to receive that which is coming.
Trust. Trust. Trust. Surrender.”
In what ways are you resisting or honoring natural time in your life? Here are some questions to guide you to explore this theme:
- How is a significant event or project in my life unfolding? What is the quality of its natural time?
- In what ways am I resisting or honoring the natural time of this event? (You’ll know there is resistance when you experience physical or emotional stress.)
- What is the risk of surrendering to the natural time? What is it that I am not willing to feel?
- How do I know this risk is true?
- What would it be like if I let go of my resistance?
- What attitude would help me honor and trust natural time in this situation, whether I like it or not?
Invite yourself to explore surrendering to natural time and perhaps sensing a bit more peace in your body and mind! Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.