I'm not a fitness or sports buff, but I've done enough yoga, cross-fit, running (attempts at), and pilates to know one thing: your core is the most vital for overall fitness. What this means is that your core, the muscle groups from your shoulders down to your thighs, needs to be strengthened for everything else to work. If your core is weak, you will get injuries when lifting or running. If your core is strong, you can use that strength to propel you upward for a pull-up or to keep your other muscles safe when moving from pose to pose in yoga. In fitness, your core strength determines whether you excel or stay mediocre. Your core determines who you become.
Life-giving rhythms come out of the core of who you are, and they shape who you become. An athlete will tell you that even when using your arms or legs, the strength comes from your core and the energy that comes back from the motion finishes at your core. You'll often hear in yoga class, "find your center of balance".
So it is with life-giving rhythms — the motivation to start intentionally adding rhythms comes from your core (the "non-negotiables" of who you are and what you need). Then, when you start incorporating your rhythms, you'll find that they are circular in motion. Just like you go through days of the week or weeks of the month, your rhythms should work right into a normal routine to be sustainable. When you are living out of your rhythms, those very activities or rituals will return change energy to your core that allows you to become more of who you are.
It may sound a little weird or like I've been living on a hippie commune or something, so I'll tell you a story about how change energy works. When I started cross-fit, I had motivation to change, but I hadn't yet seen change in my body or my abilities. So I went to classes, and tried my best to do everything the coaches told me. Often, I couldn't do the reps, weight or time listed, and sometimes I would feel very defeated because of this. The coaches would have to modify some moves for me so that I could achieve them in my current state. Over the weeks, I started to improve. I got stronger, so I could lift more weight and run longer without feeling like I was dying. I slept better and had more energy for my work days. Seeing these improvements in and out of class made me want to go back every week and accomplish even more.
That's change energy at work — building momentum and shaping you in the process.
The amazing thing about life-giving rhythms is that a little goes a long way. We'll talk more about this when I write about sustainability, but I feel like it's important to say at this point as well. When you incorporate even an hour a week of something you love doing or something you excel at naturally, that one hour will boost your overall energy exponentially. As I said in "Balance & Rhythms", time spent does not equal energy spent. The other side of that is true with rhythms — energy gained is often greater than time spent.
Think back to your "non-negotiables". How do those activities, rituals or relationships reflect the center of who you are? How do they affect your center? When you're able to incorporate your non-negotiables on a regular basis, what changes do you see in yourself?