How To Tune Your Wellness Practices With The Cosmos (& Why You Should)
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January 12, 2021 — 10:05 AM
In this excerpt from her new book Cosmic Health, astrologer Jennifer Racioppi shares her five pillars for living in sync with nature and the cosmos. Beyond reading your horoscope daily, Racioppi says these practices can help you glean more strength, connection, and purpose from the natural world that surrounds you.
Principle 1: Live cyclically.
The sun rises and sets. The moon waxes and wanes. We live on a planet that rotates on its axis, alternating between day, an extended period of light, and night, a roughly equivalent period of darkness. These are small examples of how the cosmos operates cyclically.
Our bodies also act and react cyclically. The human body (plants and animals too) biologically responds to ﬂuctuations of light and dark. Most cells and tissues in the body run on molecular “clocks” that operate most effectively when they synchronize with the external light-dark cycle they mirror.
For example, the circadian rhythm, which is the 24-hour cycle that regulates our sleep and waking times, works best when it syncs with the cycle of night and day. When we live out of sync with the natural cycles of light—for example, by exposing ourselves to too much artiﬁcial light at night or by failing to sleep—this natural internal clock is disrupted.
Living out of sync with solar and cosmic cycles comes at a great cost, yet it’s an all-too-common scenario in a modern society that perpetually overrides these natural rhythms. Our calendars and schedules suggest that these essential cycles don’t matter. We banish darkness with artiﬁcial light and tech devices. We work and rest according to a clock, not the rising and setting of the sun. While I am not suggesting we forgo electricity and only sleep and wake with the sun, I am pointing out the value of honoring our biological rhythms.
The practice of setting up your environment to support your circadian rhythm, known as circadian entrainment, helps to optimize your body’s process of living rhythmically. Returning to a life that’s more in sync with circadian and cosmic rhythms is an important step toward mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Small, simple practices, like shutting down digital devices at a certain hour each night, can help us achieve this.
This circadian rhythm is a powerful tonic but not the only rhythm that affects us. Two other rhythms that inﬂuence us are “ultradian” and “infradian.” An ultradian rhythm is a rhythm shorter than 24 hours, often repeating multiple times throughout the day. The most common one is the basic rest-activity cycle, or BRAC. This cycle happens at 80- to 120-minute intervals and inﬂuences our energy and focus and our REM versus non-REM sleep cycles. Infradian rhythms occur in longer segments. For example, the monthly menstrual cycle runs on an infradian rhythm, mirroring the circalunar rhythm of the moon. The body’s biological response to the seasons is also an infradian rhythm, known as the circannual rhythm.
We don’t have to dissect or even understand every one of the cycles we encounter, but we do need to recognize that life is a rhythm inside a rhythm inside a rhythm. We’re constantly in a dance with our internal beat and the beats of the universe and planets.
Living cyclically, aligned with the cycles of the sun and moon, is the most natural thing you’ll ever do. It’s what you are physically, mentally, and emotionally designed to do. Your body was built to work according to these cycles. The trick is to stop expending valuable time and energy ﬁghting these rhythms and, instead, concede to them—because they guide so much of our biology. When we live in sync with them, everything becomes easier.
Principle 2: Build resilience, a key to health.
In order to manage the ever-changing nature of our lives and health, we must be able to navigate the space between what is and what will be. We need to be able to endure, and leverage, chaos. That requires an ever-growing reserve of resilience.
Resilience is the capacity to face and adapt to change and also recover from challenges. It is a concept and way of being that applies to individuals, groups of people, and communities. With resilience, we can not only bounce back from disaster, disappointment, and setbacks but also grow stronger because of them. In doing so, we develop a sense of mastery in our lives.
While its beneﬁts are widely appreciated, resilience itself is often misunderstood. Resilience doesn’t mean that we forgo grief or avoid or suppress the pain we feel at turbulent times in our lives. Nor is resilience a “no pain, no gain” mentality, or about having a “stiff upper lip” or persevering at any cost.
To become truly resilient, it’s critical that we sensitize ourselves to our emotions and, when necessary, allow ourselves to process the full force of their range. From a health standpoint, repressing, suppressing, or denying emotions can manifest as physical symptoms, encompassing everything from chronic pain to insomnia, headaches, weight ﬂuctuations, hormonal imbalances, and more—all of which can contribute to disease.
Developing resilience means understanding our emotions and feeling them while also moving our lives forward. Maintaining our resilience, and the resilience of our communities requires our humanity. It’s relational work. To become truly resilient, we must nurture and honor our sensitivity, not push it aside.
Principle 3: Know thyself… It is a never-ending adventure.
Who you were yesterday isn’t necessarily who you are today, and who you are today may not be who you are next week. Like the cosmos, you are constantly changing. You will never be “ﬁnished.” When you embrace growth and change as fundamental building blocks of health, you give yourself ample and ongoing permission to transform. Your identity is constantly adapting, which also means that you’re forever in the process of getting to know yourself.
That continual process of getting to know yourself is essential to creating cosmic health.
By applying this evolutionary mindset to the self-awareness journey, we become more ﬂexible and willing to make new and different choices that reﬂect and support our most radiant health. This is a form of mindful living, in which we stay rooted in the present and notice and respond to what the body, mind, and soul need at any given point in time.
Rather than pursuing one-size-ﬁts-all health trends, we can slow down, listen, and tailor our health and self-care to meet our individual needs and desires. Instead of making decisions to meet other people’s expectations or demands, we can be guided by a strong, clear sense of self-knowing and purpose. We’re in a never-ending dance between knowing and becoming, and navigating this requires adaptability and abundant, unrelenting self-acceptance.
By integrating astrology into the process, we can better understand that predetermined aspects of life do not rob us of our power or agency. We can adapt and evolve. By continually getting to know ourselves, we can discern which behaviors, actions, and patterns best serve us at different times. Our unique relationship to Earth, the sun, the moon, and the other planets, seen through the lens of astrology, provides a map of our becoming.
Principle 4: Embrace the paradox of “both/and.”
Cosmic health embraces what Jim Collins, author of Built To Last, calls the “genius of the and” over “the tyranny of the or.” Health isn’t either/or; it’s both/and. The rational and the unquantiﬁable can coexist. You can take care of your emotional well-being and mind-body health and treat illness with the best of what Western medicine has to offer.
You can have a strong sense of individual identity and experience the beneﬁts of understanding collective meaning.
You can live in awe, marveling at the mystery of the universe and your body, and still love science.
You can honor ancient wisdom (astrology) and modern science (positive psychology, integrative wellness, and more).
When it comes to your wellness journey and health goals, you can take care of who you are now and still hold a strong vision for who you want to be in the future. It’s not a mutually exclusive journey. You can see illness, stress, and chaos as directives for what needs to change without negating or ignoring the intensity they unleash.
Finding the “and” applies to all aspects of our lives.
We are ﬁnite and expansive. We are distinct individuals and parcels of the same cosmos.
We can grieve and feel happy. We can have a chronic illness and be healthy. We can experience moments of extreme stress and evolve toward our highest good.
We can search for health and still be ﬁlled with joy. We can live with a wound that never totally heals and still self-actualize.
We can be well-adjusted humans with high-functioning lives and still experience hardship, melancholy, anger, and pain.
We can be both scientiﬁc and magical. We can be realists and full of hope too.
Cosmic health is a strong but graceful methodology that embodies sensitivity while having an impact. It produces very real results but in ways that feel gentle and powerful too.
Principle 5: Unlock your healing magic.
As women, we’ve long been shamed out of owning our power, coerced into being conciliatory, accommodating, and nurturing. While those attributes may be part of who we are, we are also the embodiment of both/and. Our loving-kindness exists in alignment with the immense, often underrealized potency that bubbles deep inside us. Using astrology, positive psychology, and integrative wellness to bolster our cosmic health, we simultaneously unlock our sovereignty as well as the possibility inherent within us and in the natural world around us.
Historically, healing magic was deemed “witchery,” brushed off as nonsensical madness or, at its most extreme, viewed as a crime punishable by death. For the “crime” of claiming their knowledge and using the healing powers of nature, thousands of women were tortured and sacriﬁced. However ancient that history may seem, our strength and the zest it triggers are still continually invalidated and maligned. It’s not surprising—by reclaiming our healing magic, we reclaim our power, and by reclaiming our power, we awaken ferocity inside us. Both scenarios are unacceptable in a patriarchal society.
Our modern-day understanding—and mobilization—of alchemy is very much rooted in its history as a persecuted practice. Historically, people have turned to it in times they have felt the most powerless: when they were oppressed and disenfranchised by society when their environment—even their own bodies—felt completely out of their own control. Today still, in a society wrought with discrimination based on gender, race, body size, sexual preference, religion, ability, and more, our sacred connection to nature provides a path to reclaiming personal agency and health.
As we embark on this journey, let’s ﬁrst get clear about what healing magic is. Healing is a therapeutic process of tending to pain. It’s the act of restoring health and vitality where wounding has occurred. The goal of healing is renewal, restoration, and improvement. Magic is an act of creation through intention and will, in communion with forces inside ourselves and in the natural world.
To reclaim our healing magic, we merely have to open ourselves to it, be willing to see our chaos as a threshold to change, and share our healing magic with a universe that yearns to conjure with us and alongside us. This is what we will do in this book, as we conjure cosmic health.
Excerpted from Cosmic Health. Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer Racioppi. Illustrations by Soul Camp Creative. Used with permission of Little, Brown Spark, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
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