Originally published March 26, 2016
Mental happiness is total relaxation.~ Yogi tea bag
Just as I was going to work on this PGG, I made myself a cup of tea, and of all the messages I could have received on the little tag, I got the one above. Thank you Universe for confirming what I am about to write!
I’ve been through a lot these past few years, and my closest friends wonder how I manage to exist and do the work I do. My response is always that I practice what I preach and there are many tools in my toolbox; I use them all, but one of the easiest to access, yet hardest for many people to apply, is the simple act of doing nothing.
When I say nothing, I mean NO THING. No doing, no thinking, no feeling (unless feelings come up), no reading, no TV or movies, no music (well, sometimes soothing music), not even meditating: JUST BEING. You can do this on your couch, in your bed, on the beach or in a park; you can sleep or doze or just be in a neutral state in whatever space you’re in. It’s about taking a conscious timeout on all levels to let your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual batteries recharge. It’s been my best medicine to remedy all that I’ve gone through and is better than any other food, drug or substance — and there are no side effects or hangovers!
My guess is lately you’ve probably felt like a warrior on the battlefield of stress, combating what feels like all the forces of nature against you. So think about it: Even if you haven’t been physically straining yourself with a sword and shield somewhere (and even if you are getting enough sleep), you have been exerting yourself on levels you might not be aware of and it takes its toll nonetheless. Hence the rest.
Most people rest only when they are forced to due to an illness or trauma to the body. But we also need to shut down after a period of mental and/or emotional turmoil, sustained physical exertion or sensory overload. Especially if you are an introvert or an empath, it’s easy to become subconsciously overwhelmed by so much coming at us from the outside, whether electronic ions, ubiquitous Wi-Fi, sound waves, disturbing images and/or picking up other people’s “stuff” in and around your environment.
Mind you, this is not being lazy or sick, and I’m not even talking about catching up on sleep (although that is critical if you need it); I’m talking about simply resting on all levels, and giving your body quality time to process, catch up, and heal on subtle levels so you can keep on keeping on in the most healthy way in mind, body and spirit.
Usually I rest after a particularly stressful experience to mitigate the effects of what I have just been through; other times it is more like a preemptive strike that my body intuitively knows to do to prepare for the challenges ahead. (Lately my technique has been staying in bed all day, but even a couple of hours are better than none.) And it’s not every week, or even every month, just when I need a stronger dose than my daily repose, depending on whatever is going on in my life. It’s a free, immunity-boosting powerhouse that reduces any potential infirmity, and it makes my mind clear and my energy able to handle whatever the task at hand may be, rather than slug through endlessly never feeling productive or operating at my fullest.
BTW, I’m sure there are scientific studies about this. For one, just think about when you exercise a certain set of muscles at the gym — the advice is always to have one day off in between to rest those muscles. That’s how they get stronger. Then there is the wisdom of oh-so-many traditions, which suggests (or mandates) some form of a Sabbath — because even God had to rest! But whether you are religious or not, this means you are consciously setting aside time to commune with your SELF.
Many folks can’t sit still for five minutes, let alone even consider spending an entire day in bed if they are not sick (or have some other condition like depression or ordered by a doctor). Because of our always on, go-go-go society, at first it’s easy to feel some sense of self-imposed guilt for not crossing out items on your To Do List or the FMO that comes along with shutting down; or you might think it’s some luxury you can’t afford. Start where you can, for however long you are able.
Think of it as being internally productive, because most healing we can’t easily see or perceive as it’s happening — like when we a cut or broken bone seems to magically gets better — and know that the investment in downtime saves you time and increases your external productivity in the long run. For instance, instead of squeezing out whatever you have to do on fumes over 8 hours feeling burnt out and suffering, use those 8 hours for quality rest FIRST, then bang out whatever you need to do in a very focused, refreshed and flowing 1–2 hours. Try it, you’ll like it!
In our increasingly stimulating world, most people are being controlled by their technology, rather than them being in control of it. Besides the daily grind of commutes, work and other obligations, there are always challenging cycles of adversity and intense situations to endure. It is essential to disconnect in order to process your activities and their impact, to sort out your subconscious and integrate all you experience. You need to be able to hear your own thoughts, feel your own feelings and think for yourself.
We must make a concerted effort to create the conditions to receive inspiration, download waves of creativity, have those aha moments, problem-solve and brainstorm new ideas. When you make rest an integral part of your life, you will find you can be more patient with family members and friends, spouses and significant others, kids and coworkers; you’ll be able to listen more effectively, be present and have more empathy with whomever we are with, and the world around us.
The more you develop and heed your resting muscle, the more you will be able to listen to your body — its infinite wisdom knows what is best for you at any given time. Heed that wisdom and your body will reward you. You will feel more centered and alert, and will naturally be more confident. And yes, there is something to what they call beauty sleep!
The bottom line is that we must impose our own YIN to our very YANG culture at this extraordinary time in history that is demanding our attention with the steady stream of stimulation, distraction, transition, emotional porn and more that we are subjected to 24/7.
Due to this reality, it seems as if everyone is dealing with some level of fear or anxiety and is feeling frazzled or out of control. Unchecked sleep deprivation and/or incessant stress on our minds and emotions can permeate our daily lives in insidious ways you might not realize because at this point you’re so used to it! However, when we’re well-rested, we see things more clearly and have the strength and wherewithal to handle whatever comes our way, rather than become ill or hopeless and/or explode in some inappropriate manner that could cause physical and/or emotional harm to us or others. And, if you rest on a regular basis you won’t need to binge eat/drink/whatever, and you might not even need to take a vacation!
The Roman poet Ovid so wisely wrote, “Take rest; the field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Want to make sure you have much to harvest throughout the year? Gimme a buzz and I’ll show you that when you make time for rest, you can be assured that life will bear fruit in every way!
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