Nearly everywhere we look in nature, there are creatures engaging in some sort of consistent daily routine. The natural world at large is deeply influenced by the rhythms of nature – the rising and setting of the sun, the cycles of the seasons, and the underlying impulses directing the broader community of life. While there is often some degree of seasonal variation, many plants and animals embrace a predictable daily rhythm and, as a rule, live by it. As humans, we have largely gotten away from this habit. Modern forms of energy allow us to heat and cool our homes and businesses, light the darkness, and engage with life at all hours of the day and night. Many of us even have jobs and other obligations that require us to keep irregular schedules. The increasingly erratic nature of our lives is inherently taxing. Layer that on top of the busyness and stress that pervades modern life, and it is no wonder that so many of our nervous systems now exist in a chronic state of high alert – hyper-vigilant, increasingly unable to relax.
But at the most fundamental level, our physiology is very much adapted to – and supported by – some sense of regularity. Actually, this is precisely why the daily routine is such potent medicine. In effect, having a daily routine offers the grounding, stability, and predictability that are largely absent from our hectic modern lives. The routine itself creates a number of familiar and comforting reference points throughout each day that send a resounding affirmation to the deep tissues of the body that all is well, that we can be at ease. And so, when the body becomes accustomed to – and learns to count on – a daily routine that includes things like adequate rest, appropriate exercise, and a nourishing spiritual practice, the nervous system can finally begin to relax. As a result, a daily routine can elicit profound rejuvenation throughout the body without requiring any conscious awareness of the healing process.