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  • Writer's pictureTracyann Thomas

Light-Dark Cycle

As the Winter Solstice nears, we can celebrate that the Sun will once again shine more of its brilliance incrementally longer each day. As we move through time towards the Summer Solstice, the Sun will then start its decline in hours of light until the following Winter Solstice, and the pattern repeats over and over again. It is one of Nature's most pronounced cycles.

The light-dark cycle is a very important truth of life. Nature is profoundly cued by the amount of light in its environment, and as we are Nature, we are also cued by this cycle.

Our hormones, which are our physiological blueprints, are linked to this light-dark cycle. In addition, our energy levels, our growing seasons, the rhythm of our lives, and our beautiful planet Earth literally all revolve around the Sun. You can imagine then how significantly we are affected by the change in Sun exposure throughout the year.

Our immune strength is linked to the rhythms of the light-dark cycle. Studies have shown that seasonal changes in day length can suppress or enhance immunity function. The more light in an environment, the stronger the immune system. This is just one argument for why Winter is supposed to be the time of hibernation, not just for animals, but for humans, too. Winter is the time to retreat and go inward so we can rest and rejuvenate ourselves before the start of abundant activity and growth in the Spring. We should instinctively cut back on social activities and retire earlier at night in the Winter to guard our immune system while it is more vulnerable.

One of the reasons so many people get sick and run down over the Winter holiday season is that just when Nature is asking us to slow down and move inward, our modern cultural norms and traditions ramp up activity and keep us burning the candles at both ends. Everyone becomes so busy preparing for and attending holiday gatherings and events over the late Fall and Winter.

If you look at history at a time before the invention of artificial light and modern conveniences, humans were in tune with Nature's light-dark cycle. Not only out of necessity to stay warm and safe inside during the cold, dark seasons, but also because they were deeply rooted in Nature, living off the land, closer to her, following and honoring her cues.

Today, we live in a very manmade environment with artificial light permeating our existence all hours of the day and night, spending most of our time in buildings, overstimulating ourselves with an abundance of technology, and modern agricultural practices that forget the importance of being connected to the source. Our species is severely disconnected from Nature in this modern age.

But, our physiological blueprints still completely depend on syncing up with Nature’s rhythms and cycles, and they always will for infinity. We are seasonal circadian beings and we must live in sync and in harmony with Nature to survive and thrive on this planet.

Ayurveda has been teaching this for thousands of years, but now, modern world scientists and doctors are calling it Circadian Medicine. More and more research suggests that receptors for food, digestive enzymes, nutrients, and neurotransmitters change seasonally to offer us all that we need just when we need it, revealing that everything is perfectly timed and in alignment with Nature.

As modern science catches up with ancient medicine, it is further validating that we find disorder and disease when we disconnect from our roots, from Mother Earth and from the rhythms and cycles of Nature, and when we align ourselves with this ever-pervading primordial force, we find vibrant health and wellness.

Because we are Nature, we must live in harmony with her rhythms and cycles to experience true health and wellness, including the light-dark cycle. That is simply a truth of life.

So at this Winter Solstice, you can honor this natural rhythm by remembering our eternal connection to Mother Earth. Have a sweet ritual tonight where you light a candle, honoring the return of the Sun, drink some Moon Milk to help soothe your nervous system and settle into bed earlier. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it, and you will be aligned with the biggest advocate of your health and well-being ~ Nature.

For more on honoring Nature's rhythms and cycles and how to find balance naturally with diet and lifestyle, see my post on Ayurveda for the Winter season.

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