The Power of Rest
pic by Kevin Rosseel
This Fall into Winter, my travel schedule was even more packed than usual, with several long trips interspersed with weekends. Florida. Germany. Canada. North Carolina… Having prepared myself physically, mentally, and emotionally, I knew I would make it through. Then I became trapped by intense snow flurries off the great lakes and was unable to get home between the Canadian and North Carolina teaching trips. Not only did this cause me to miss a Leonard Cohen concert, but meant I had to shuffle spiritual direction clients around. Add to this mix an inexplicable computer glitch that meant I could not post to my online student groups from my iPad, and I became a bit backed up with work.
Finally, the snows released me mid-week, and I flew directly to NC. Readings, healings, teaching, and ritual went really well and I even got a gym visit in, but by the time I arrived home late Sunday night, I felt pretty tired. Monday was spent running errands and getting to bed early. By the time Tuesday arrived, I knew that more rest was needed, so decided against going to the soup kitchen, though I was missing it by this time, and vowed instead to do absolutely nothing except have skype sessions with the few clients that were scheduled. After my morning client, I lay in bed watching movies, drinking herbal tea, and reading books. By late afternoon, I was feeling more motivated, but would not let myself begin working on other projects. I saw a couple more clients, put another movie on that was so bad even in my brain dead state I couldn’t make it all the way through, chose to read some more and then fell to sleep.
As a result, Wednesday morning, I awakened filled with tangible amounts of energy, brain bubbling with project ideas that were dying to be set down into pixels, and I was actually sad to cut my gym routine shorter than I would have liked, coming up with a new exercise schedule that will carry me through the huge number of projects I am ramping into for 2011. Rather than feeling daunted by my to do list, I feel energized, awake, and excited. I don’t quite feel invincible, but close enough!
My lesson is this: I don’t get enough “do nothing” rest. While I don’t need a lot of it, it would likely serve my life well to put one day a month on the books where I set out to accomplish as little as possible. No gym. No answering of emails. No checking in on students or clients. No writing. No planning. No housework.
This is different from the mandated “day off” I take once a week, in which the gym and errands (and maybe even some email) still get attended to. It is also qualitatively different from the “not quite working, not quite resting” that sometimes happens even though I am conscious of wishing to avoid it. You know what I mean: feeling too tired to work efficiently, instead of taking a break, we surf the net or make some stabs at working that are not very fruitful. I still do this, although when I am really on deadline, or simply more highly functioning, I do take tea, or garden, or exercise breaks which then enable me to get back to real work. The more overall tired I become, however, the more difficult it is to avoid the time and energy draining habits of pseudo-rest.
What is the difference here? Consciousness. Choosing. In choosing to take a break, or to rest, we actually have a chance to reset both our energy and our intentions. In frittering time away, we also drain the energy we have to apply to our lives, our projects, our health, and our relationships. Active choice also reinforces our will, which gives every concurrent intention greater support.
I state right now my intention to court real rest in my life, in order to be a healthier, more integrated human, and to aid the manifestation of the myriad expressions of the Work of this particular God, here in this place, at this time. That feels pretty good.
How about you?