Alternation is a natural rhythm that is woven into the fabric of life on this planet. We go back and forth between day and night and the seasons of the year. By tuning into and aligning ourselves with alternation, we can come into deeper harmony with life. When alternation is not naturally present, by consciously creating it, we bring our lives into greater balance and open ourselves to accelerated healing.
In every moment, we alternate between breathing in and breathing out. Bringing our attention to this alternation has an instantaneous, powerful impact. Every time the breathe goes out, we can experience a deep release, allowing the breath to carry with it tensions and stagnant energy. When the breath comes in, we can consciously and gratefully receive fresh energy and inspiration.
Another fundamental alternation is between productive activities and breaks to rest and recharge. Particularly when we believe that we don’t have enough time to do everything we think we need to do it’s easy to go into an overdrive, rushing and pushing ourselves through the day. The simplest way to break out of this stressful mode is to create brief, frequent gaps, when we pause to take a few relaxed breaths, stretch, or walk around the block. When we alternate between doing and nondoing, the doing becomes more joyful and effortless.
If our lives are very busy, it is helpful to create longer gaps for personal restoration and renewal. The traditional practice of taking a Sabbath day once a week is an excellent one. Scheduling time regularly for vacations and retreats is also a wise practice. A well-planned retreat, which includes time to relax and rest fully, to connect deeply with Self/God, and to examine your life from a fresh, clear perspective can be transformative. Getting away from your daily life and vacationing in a place you love can also be deeply renewing.
In intimate relationships, alternation between time together and time apart can be very healthy. Spending quality time alone is often renewing and strengthening. The partners can let go of identifying themselves as part of a “we” and reconnect deeply with the core of who they are. The time apart can also be a great opportunity to break patterns of neediness and co-dependency. When the partners come back together, they have the opportunity to create new, healthier ways of interacting.
I invite you to have fun exploring ways to use alternation to bring more balance, health, and freedom into your life. A great place to start is by paying more attention to the natural alternation of your breath. Notice how this impacts the quality of your experience. Then, as life presents you with various challenges, be creative in finding ways to use alternation to meet those challenges effectively.
If you resonate with the concept of alternation, you might enjoy reading my book, How Alternation Can Change Your Life.