“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.” ~ John Lubbock
In our so-called civilized world full of hustle and bustle and the onslaught of stimuli, it is so easy to fall into a pattern of go, go , go, what’s next, what’s next, what’s next. Thanks to deeply entrenched belief systems, we tend to value lots of activity and to raise an eyebrow (at the very least) at idleness. The treadmill of life keeps us running for fear of being sucked under.
We forget that we can choose to get off the treadmill entirely, at least for a little while.
How delicious to take a break, to commit, fully, to a “hang-out day.” Maybe it’s not even a full day, but a few hours, or maybe just an hour. My life is super busy some days, and I find I must look for the gaps, the odd “scrap” of time in between activities where my mind can unspool a little and my breath can deepen. The amount of time is less important than the intention and commitment to STOP. REST.
“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is to take a complete rest.”
~ Ashleigh Brilliant
Come. Sit down… Lie down. Close your eyes. Breathe. Breathe again, more deeply this time.
Let your muscles relax. Let your thoughts float free. Find the quiet, still space inside.
There is nothing you must do at this moment.
“To rest was to receive all aspects of the world without judgement..”
~ Michael Ondaantje
In many ways rest is a conscious activity. It is not sleep. It is not zoning out or escaping from our life. In order to truly rest, we set an intention and are mindful: we consciously let go, we set aside our egoic agendas and put our trust in the body to know what it needs. We release all judgements about all that has come before. We must take time for the body and mind to process and re-calibrate, to digest the thoughts, ideas, activities of the hour, of the day. One of the most important aspects of rest is that it is the ground for so many things:
Space in the mind allows for the percolation of Creativity and New Ideas.
Resting the body allows for Healing and Rejuvenation.
Through quieting the mind and deepening the breath we Re-Connect to Our Center, our Self.
And what do these things all have in common? Integration.
Integration is a process of re-gaining some level of wholeness through re-gathering and re-assembling and re-storing all the pieces of ourself, as well as our energy, that get scattered far and wide throughout the day. Without true Rest and Integration, either we suffer burnout from expending everything we have, or everything builds up into a truly unwieldy pile and we topple, victims of our own overwhelm.
In yoga posture practice, one of the most delicious and yet most challenging poses is Savasana, “corpse pose.” Exactly as the name suggests, you lay on your back with your arms and legs long and straight and a little away from the body; you sink into the support of the floor (or ground, or bed if you can’t lay on the floor). The eyes are closed so the mind can turn inward. The breath deepens.
After a strenuous practice (or a busy day) this pose is a welcome respite.
At the beginning of practice, this pose can be extremely challenging –
you want to move or stretch and the mind is still buzzing like so many bees about anything and everything; it is oh so hard to be still and sink into rest. How can we drop into rest when we are hyped up on activity?
“Activity and rest are two vital aspects of life. To find a balance in them is a skill in itself. Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have. Finding them in each other – activity in rest and rest in activity – is the ultimate freedom.”
~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
How do we maintain peace and calm in the midst of activity? We breathe, for one. We slow down a little. We focus on one thing at a time and resist the temptation to multi-task. We practice mindfulness. Maybe we practice meditation. We carry the qualities we cultivated in rest with us as we begin again.
I have long cultivated and held, in a corner of my mind, a small chapel of empty space, a sacred place of calm and solitude I carry with me everywhere and protect fiercely. When that space gets encroached on too much, I know it’s time for me to make space for some alone time, to take a break; to go outside for a walk or to sit and absorb the natural world around me.
“Take a breath and let the rest come easy.”
I had to chuckle when I found this quote. Rest. The everything that follows. The break from everything. This quote functions both ways. We breathe, relax and open, and carry on with a lighter touch, less harshness and attachment in our thoughts and activities. Then, later, we return to our breath and sink into delicious rest. The cycle continues: again and again, we rise and fall, we ride the waves of activity and rest, carried along by a boat called breath.
~ Invitation ~
Rest. That is all.
You’ve done enough doing, now it’s time to let it all go.
Have you tried Savasana? (above)
I am a wife and a mom, a yogi, an artist, and a writer… but not always in that order! I tend to think in collage and have trouble starting my day without coffee (black). I am a contemplative and a seeker on this wonderful, odd trip that is this human life. I love to have adventures and detest fences of any kind. Dedicated to my journal, I blog part-time at www.vignettesfrommylife.blogspot.com