Alternation for Healing and Balance

Posted on in Healthy Living by Andrew Oser


Alternation is a natural rhythm that is woven into the fabric of life on this planet. We go back and forth between day and night and the seasons of the year. By tuning into and aligning ourselves with alternation, we come into deeper harmony with life. When alternation is not naturally present, by consciously creating it, we bring our lives into greater balance and open ourselves to accelerated healing.

In every moment, we alternate between breathing in and breathing out. Bringing attention to this alternation has an instantaneous and powerful impact. Every time the breath goes out, we can experience a deep release, allowing the breath to carry with it tensions and stagnant energy. When the breath comes in, we can consciously and gratefully receive fresh energy and inspiration. To some extent, this happens whether or not we focus on the breath. But when we bring our full awareness to even one cycle of breath, we come home to the present moment and experience immediate renewal.

Another fundamental alternation is between productive activities and breaks to rest and recharge. In some activities, this alternation is built in. For example, in tennis, there is a 15–30 second break after each point. But many activities, including most work situations, are not structured to include regular periods of non-doing. It’s easy to go into overdrive, rushing and pushing ourselves through the day. The simplest way to break out of this stressful mode is to create brief gaps, when we pause to take a few relaxed breaths, stretch, or walk around the block. When we alternate between doing and non-doing, the doing becomes more joyful and effortless.

In intimate relationships, alternation between time together and time apart can be healthy. Spending quality time alone is often renewing and strengthening. The partners can let go of identifying themselves as part of a “we” and reconnect deeply with the core of who they are. Time apart can be a great opportunity to break patterns of neediness and codependency. When partners resume together, they have the opportunity to create new, healthier interactions.

Alternation also can be a powerful key to healing. One simple application is to first bring your full attention to a place in your body where there is pain or tension. Spend a moment simply experiencing the physical sensations and allowing them to be as they are. Then, shift your attention to another part of your body that is free from tension and pain. By going back and forth between the two spots and noticing the difference, you may find that tension or pain has diminished.

Are you seeking more ease and balance in your life? Alternation has many practical applications. It can be effective in emotional healing, changing habits, shifting limiting beliefs, improving communications, and as a catalyst to spiritual awakening.

As a spiritual life coach, Andrew Oser has helped many people make breakthroughs over the past 35 years. He guides Mount Shasta retreats and sacred site journeys and authored How Alternation Can Change Your Life, available at

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