Do you lack the motivation it takes to get through your day? Are you feeling tired and wiped out?
If so, you are not alone. According to Statistica, only one out of seven Americans start the day feeling refreshed. Even if you get an adequate amount of sleep each night, you may still wake up tired. Sleep is essential for good health, but it alone cannot restore you.
“If there are too many other things draining you, it's like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom. It’s never going to fill up,” Jay Shetty explains.
If you are looking for a way to break out of that rut that keeps you in a constant sleepy haze, Jay Shetty’s advice on how to get your energy back and synchronize the flow of your life is exactly what you need.
In this article, Jay Shetty walks you through how to identify and get in sync with your current season and give you a science-based practice to support your ability to experience the full benefits each season has to offer.
Seasons of Life
Winter, spring, summer, and fall are the seasons in nature. They follow in order, and you know when they will happen. Life has seasons too, but unlike nature, they do not have to go in a specific order.
“It may be winter outside, but your internal season might be summer or fall,” Jay Shetty explains. “The season you're in doesn't have to correspond to the weather outside. It's a cycle you're going through.”
Winter may follow summer for you. Likewise, even though you are in winter, it does not mean you cannot experience parts that are summer. Like in nature, you may have a few warm days in an otherwise cold season. It is not all or nothing – it just means you have to prioritize and manage things differently.
As in nature, we cycle through seasons in our lives. It is easy to look out the window and know what the external season is. It is hard to reap the season’s benefit and remain balanced if you don't know what internal season you are in. Do you know how to recognize what your internal season is?
“If you look at our veda, along with traditional Chinese medicine, to name just two,there's a lot of talk about balancing elements and seasons within and outside ourselves.” Jay Shetty explains.
For example, if you live somewhere cold in the winter, you support your body by eating warm cooked food rather than raw foods. This practice supports you for the season you are in.
Andrew Huberman is a Neurologist at Stanford University who studies how we can use science to optimize our bodies' cycles. Huberman believes the eyes are a primary source of communication to the brain, which is the primary regulator of body functions.
What is the most powerful thing you can do? Watch the sunrise and the sunset.
Huberman says that when the sun is low in the sky, the angle of light communicates with our retinal neurons, the neurons in our eyes. That synchronizes a whole system of clocks in our bodies to help regulate loads of functions, including our organ function and how our bodies time our sleep and wakefulness cycles.
This is one of the reasons we can get so out of sync when we stay up late. We force our bodies out of sync with the natural rhythms, and our bodies struggle to find the balance needed to get restorative sleep.
“Hard science says that we are meant to be in tune with nature,” Jay Shetty says. When you are in sync with your season, you are prepared for whatever might arise.
Summer is a time that is go, go, go. It is casual and fun. The days are longer, and we spend time achieving more and playing harder. Maybe summer is the time you launch a new venture or product you have been working on.
Because it seems like more is accomplished, we often put expectations on ourselves that life should be a perpetual summer.
“One thing I've observed is that in the West, we're so focused on the external, on making and producing things in goals outside of ourselves,” Jay Shetty shares. “We're constantly putting expectations on ourselves to do more and better, and to prove ourselves and our worth, to always show tangible results.”
“In the East, there's more of a tradition of focusing on the internal setting, our intentions, on seeking meaningful input, and on contemplating our desires and the processes through which we might advance or attain them,” Jay Shetty says. “It's more reflective.
There’s a yin and yang to balancing energies – resting and doing. While both are necessary and essential to well-being, we cannot live in one or the other all the time and be balanced and healthy.
If you push to be in summer all the time, you will burn out and feel exhausted. No matter how hard you try, things just won't come together like you want them to. Jay Shetty is no stranger to being out of balance.
“I was living as a monk, and all I wanted to do was give as much as I could every day,” says Jay Shetty. “I pushed it to the edge with what I could offer others. The problem was that I thought that was service, but it wasn't self-sustaining. I never shifted cycles into receiving and replenishing.”
Jay Shetty landed in the hospital because he had drained himself so much and was out of balance. How can you make sure you stay balanced? One of the experts Jay Shetty leans on for wisdom in this area is Steven Kotler, a peak performance expert and the author of several best-selling books.
One of the areas Kotler has studied deeply is flow, including how to get into flow states where you're so immersed that you lose a sense of time, and things are just moving as if they have their own momentum.
“Summer is a time when flow states can be super helpful,” Jay Shetty explains. “You're able to get into that deep focus mode and create.”
Flow begets flow, meaning that the more often you experience flow states in one area, the more often you can experience them in other areas.
Find an area where you experience flow smoothly. This may be a physical practice like running or dancing, playing with your kids, or playing an instrument, making it a priority to experience that flow often.
Aim for at least thirty minutes a week. The more often you can do it, the better benefits you will experience from it, and it will lead to more flow in other areas of life.
Fall is a time where many harvest the fruits of their labor. They gather and store things for the future. Fall is also a time to let things go. Have you been holding on to something for too long? Fall is the time to release and reset. You need to open yourself up to receive what is to come.
“We've all resisted releasing things whose cycle or the time has ended,” Jay Shetty explains. “It is exhausting. We're working harder trying to make that job or that relationship work for us when it's just time for things to change.”
It is hard to see the reality of when it is time to let go. It requires you to reflect on your relationships with honest eyes and ask the difficult question of what to let go of. You have to give yourself a chance to hear a truthful answer, which can be very hard to do.
Research shows that writing things down results in more in-depth reflection and meaning.
People who journaled for ten to fifteen minutes daily, reflecting on a problem or a challenge, reported feeling more optimistic about their ability to resolve it.
Ask yourself what you can release, and take some time to think about your answer. This exercise is designed to help you sink to your most in-depth knowledge of what you are ready to release. You want the most profound answer you can find.
Ask yourself again, “What can I release?” then write your answer down. It can be anything that is holding you back from being the best version of yourself.
“The process for letting go of those practices or patterns can look very different for each person depending on what it is,” Jay Shetty explains. “The first part is to get a clear idea of what it's time to let go of. Just seeing and getting clear on those issues and patterns and behaviors, knowing that it's time to let go of them, is at least half the work. Once you identify something, it's time to let go.”
Winter is a time of reflection, recovery, and restoration. You can look deep inside yourself to find a clear view of who you are and where you want to be if you choose to pay attention.
Winter often feels cold and harsh. When you are experiencing the winter season in your life, challenges may be demanding, relationships may be lacking, and it is easy to shut out all the problems you are facing. Still, the biggest mistake you can make in winter is to ignore it.
“When you don't prepare for it or accept it, you continue to think something is wrong,” Jay Shetty explains. “You want to make it better, but what you’re not realizing is that by simply leaning into winter, you will be able to go through it.”
The pandemic left many people in winter. The forced change held purpose on some levels. It helped correct the balance for many of us that have been driving too hard for too long.
Shetty explains he has heard so many people say, “I have all this time now that my schedule has quieted down. I'm feeling all these things I've never felt and seeing things I’ve never seen.”
This was a challenge for many people who were so out of touch with themselves.
“That's what happens when we try to be in perpetual summer,” Shetty explains. “We're focused on the externals. Winter brings us back to the internal focus.”
Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman says, “It isn't until we downshift that we start learning specifically.”
“All of the neurochemicals that were activated in our brains when we were in summer, pushing ourselves to produce new things and driving forward, were released and marked our brains for learning,” Jay Shetty shares. “They marked areas for growth and change in our brains. Our brains don't change until we downshift and rest.”
A helpful practice Jay Shetty suggests to help calm your body into a state of deep recovery is a combination of meditation and breathwork. Big, slow movements of your diaphragm directly communicates to your brain that it's time to slow down. Here’s how.
Step 1: Get into a comfortable position.
Step 2: Close your eyes and breathe gently in through your nose and out your mouth for a few breaths. Notice your breathing. When you inhale, feel your stomach expand as opposed to your chest. Breathe into your belly. When you exhale, fill your belly gently. Continue this at your own pace for a few more breaths.
“When you inhale, feel you're taking in positive, uplifting energy, and when you exhale, feel that you're breathing out and releasing any negative or toxic energy,” Jay Shetty explains. “Do this for a few more cycles.”
Step 3: Breathe in deeply for four seconds, then exhale for longer than four seconds, gently using your abdominal muscles to lightly push out that breath until you've completed a full exhalation. Then repeat, breathing in for four seconds and out for more than four seconds.
Jay Shetty recommends that everyone spends at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week doing this kind of breathwork.”
Spring is a time for renewal, rejuvenation, and rebirth.
Steven Kotler suggests we all have a mental tool that is free fuel for passion. When we engage it, it effortlessly propels us. What is this tool? Curiosity.
Spring is a time of following your curiosity. It's a time of exploring topics you're interested in, creating a vision board, brainstorming new ideas for your business, or trying new things with your romantic relationship. It is a mindset where you approach life with a childlike fascination. Spring season is when you desire something new and different.
Generous listening is fueled by curiosity; it is a critical skill to employ in your relationships. To practice this skill, you need to ask questions without presuming the answers. The goal is to learn. When you genuinely listen to people, it creates trust and helps deepen the relationship with others. If you ask boring questions, you get boring answers. Learning to ask better questions makes you a better listener.
Try this skill for yourself. Invite three people for a thirty-minute conversation where you simply ask interesting questions. After the discussion, take at least five minutes to reflect on what you've learned. Ask yourself what surprised you. Did your perspective on anything shift?
“Notice that general listening is a practice you'll be able to use any time, not just in spring,” Jay Shetty shares. “Similarly, the seasons will overlap a bit here and there. It's not only in winter that we need rest and recovery. We need to build that into all of our seasons to some degree. If you do some reflecting, you start to notice the predominant theme or season you're in right now, and if you embrace that and go with the seasonal flow, it will be an incredible season to experience.”
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “4 Stages of Life We All Have To Live Through” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.