Rest. The body needs it to repair and replenish, the mind needs it to access creativity, and the soul needs it to cultivate peace. When seals pull themselves out onto rocks or the shore, they are not being lazy or sunbathing. They haul out to reoxygenate their blood by sleeping much of the day. This and a thick blubber layer enables them to take deep dives, staying under an average of 23 minutes as they forage mostly at night in the cold ocean waters off the coast. It is essential for them to carry on at the top of their game. It can save their lives. We too need to reoxygenate.
As a self-employed coach, entrepreneur and writer, much of my time is spent alone, the clock my guide or my punisher. One might think that is the perfect set up for resting, but it turns out not to be true for me and many others in all kinds of different situations.
I can minimize lunch breaks and breaks in general. My idea of a break can be house chores or a yoga class. Necessary parts of my life, but not fully restful. While my pace is rarely rushed, my “doing” can often not stop until I lay down at night.
I am much more mindful these days of rest as a result of an event a few years ago that helped me wake up to my unrestful habits. The first was a discussion with a Buddhist teacher. She made it clear I was not sitting on my meditation cushion enough for someone with my practice history. Much of my resistance dissolved and I meditate more regularly now, watching my mind’s frenetic activity with compassion so I can “sit” off the cushion and not only value “productivity.”
I am the queen of boundaries and accountability around action and results. I now apply that more regularly around rest and rejuvenation. Buoyed by understanding the issue, I now create more inaction and true rest times in my day. When my sister visits on weekends, we have amazing massages and manicures, which I know now are serotonin raising activities. I still use network and Netflix shows strategically to stop for a full lunch break and tennis matches are often my evening entertainment and inspiration to play hard and rest with just as much intention. I place boundaries on my work over the weekend. By creating restful evenings and weekends, I naturally organized my work more efficiently.
When I start flailing, I pull out a daily checklist I created 30 years ago as a recalibration tool to pay more tender attention to myself. It now includes more habits of inaction – computer off earlier, 45-minute lunch break, in bed earlier.
Eleanor Brownn says: “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
I moved to Marin County 6+ years ago because I wanted to live where I would go to replenish and rest. I am grateful I can more often practice rest as dutifully as I practice action, because rest is good for everyone and everything that matters to us.