The body, mind, and spirit connection
To children of the ’60s, astrology, meditation, auras, and palm reading are as familiar as love beads, long hair, and “flower power.” I suppose it can reasonably be said that it was the generation of peace & love that ushered in the New Age–though theologians would argue that it began 50 years earlier in the time of spiritualist H. P. Blavatsky.
Even so, an entire generation took the philosophies, religions, and ideologies of the world in an earth-shaking embrace that American society had never experienced before or since. Guessing one’s “sign,” joining meditation circles, quoting the world’s great philosophers, practicing Yoga, and consulting one’s biorhythm chart were everyday rituals indicative of one’s spiritual “enlightenment.” Many of us remember the long, converging-line paper trail that routinely stretched around the room presumed to foretell which days were going to be good for certain activities, which ones would be a struggle.
For many, biorhythms were a sensible and prudent approach to understanding the mysterious inner workings of the body, mind, and spirit in an otherwise purely mystical context. Yet, as popular as this method once was, biorhythms didn’t graduate into the enlightened ’90s along with the continued and renewed interest in all things metaphysical.
Bio-rhythms, which are a pseudo-scientific application of our biological clocks, had been studied for decades before the 1960s because of their seeming relationship to our behavioral patterns. Although humans had long accepted that how they feel, act, and think differs day today–with no apparent reason (but of major interest to psychiatrists)–it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that Dr. Hermann Swoboda, a professor of psychology at the University of Vienna, was prompted to investigate whether there might be some pattern or “rhythm” to these seemingly arbitrary physiological changes.
Fusing the studies of biologist John Beard, who conducted studies on human gestation and the cycle of childbirth, along with the pioneering psychoanalytical studies of Wilhelm Fliess, and the philosophical observations of anthropologist Johann Friedrich, Swoboda began a five-year study of body rhythms in 1897. As a result, Swoboda discovered a recurring pattern of human ailments such as tissue swelling, fevers, and even heart attacks–all within two specific cycles, one, 23-day, one, 28-day. And since that time, scientists around the globe who have followed up on Swoboda’s seminal work have concurred that humans do indeed appear to be influenced by three internal cycles: the “physical” (taking 23 days to complete), the “emotional” (taking 28 days to complete), and the “intellectual” (taking 33 days to complete). Following this outline, at birth, the cycle starts at zero.
Going with the flow
If one were to chart this impending pattern on paper (as millions of us did back in the day), a dot would be placed on the baseline (the horizontal line delineating “negative” from “positive” influence). Day by day, the line would be extended, rising upward (into the “positive” range) before reaching a peak point, then slowly dropping down into the “negative” range (forming a “wave” much like the “wavelength” representing radio frequency). This line would then continue down to its lowest (negative) point before turning upwards again.
Three lines representing the three cycles (23, 28, and 33 days) would thus rise and fall over days, each taking that specific number of days to complete its wave-like cycle. Thus, one would end up with three separate lines crossing the baseline at various points, intermingling and converging at various points between the positive and negative–but rarely crossing the baseline at the same place.
If two or three lines crossed at the same point, that was a day for caution: your body energies were working against you. Until fairly recently, those charting their “rhythms” had to tape multiple sheets of paper end-to-end as the days passed, often creating a continual paper trail that encircled the room.
Today, however, software that also negates the need for astrological “charts” (that used to result in tome-like workbooks), with the slip of a disk or click of the mouse, a year’s outlook can be quickly calculated and printed out. (Maybe it’s this technological advancement that ultimately made the charting process seem less personal.) Some techno-astrologers even offer biorhythm charts as part of a “total outlook package.” But should you be unable to find such a practitioner, or perhaps just long for the old days, there are still several “how-to” books on the New Age shelves to remind you how to do it (or you can just look up the formula on the net). As for me, I reactivated my chart (by the old method) about a year ago and have since discovered most readings to be eerily accurate, and frankly, while as a scientist I don’t take any mystical interpretation at face value, in these unsettling times, I’ll take all the insider help I can get!