My relationship to rest has changed as I’ve got older. I think when I was younger, I had a much less complicated relationship with it. I would think nothing of spending a whole morning in bed, reading or of taking afternoon naps. But as I’ve got older, I’ve somehow developed a frame of mind that I “should” always be busy. And there’s a sense of guilt if I’m not.
What I found was that I would have periods of “enforced rest” – where my body pretty much gave up, I would become ill and spend a couple of days recuperating on the couch. This would rejuvenate me enough to become over-busy again, until my body would give out and so the cycle went on.
I don’t know if I would ever have changed this cycle until I went onto a retreat, and during this we had a “lazy day”. I initially felt a little scared when this was first announced – and started to make plans for what I was going to do. By the time the lazy day came round, I was able to embrace it. I really did do nothing – I lay down next to a river for several hours and spent another hour or two half-way up a tree. Just being outside, soothing my soul felt good to me.
Since that day – 6 years ago – I have made an effort to be lazy. Yes, being lazy does take effort! We need to carve time out to do nothing, we need to work on our inner demons which tell us we “should” be busy. We need to learn how to stop.
We definitely live in a society that values busy-ness. You know how we ask each other “how are you?” – the most common answer (after “fine”) is “busy”. We wear our busyness as a badge of honour, if we’re not exhausted we think there’s something wrong with us. Every night, every weekend “must” be jam-packed with things to do. In all of this doing, we have forgotten how to be.
The ability to rest more during my waking hours means that I have less difficulty sleeping.
One thing that’s massively affected by our inability to stop is our sleep. So many of us now suffer from issues with sleep – whether that’s finding it difficult to drop off at night, whether that’s wakening up and not being able to drift off again. Our sleep can be broken up into such small segments that it’s like we haven’t slept at all. And yet our exhaustion doesn’t encourage us to slow down.
What I’ve found over the past 6 years is that the ability to rest more during my waking hours means that I have less difficulty sleeping. Developing the quality of rest has a massive positive effect on sleep. Really, what we’re doing is training the body – and the mind – to get used to rest, so that it’s a state that we can easily access. It then becomes less of a battle when we get into bed, because our bodies and our minds know what to do. They can start to quieten, to release and to ease, and sleep comes more easily.
We’re focusing on rest all of this month, because it feels so important. If this has piqued your interest, come and join Susie at her “Rest into Sleep” workshop…..