Our physical, mental, and emotional bodies are designed for balance and wholeness. Talk of proper diet, sufficient exercise, sunshine, and water abound. It isn’t very often the conversation of sufficient rest arises. Human beings have decided, for the most part, that multi-tasking is a necessity and technology has taken this practice to unbelievable extremes.
Eating out is an education. Look around at other diners, even in gourmet restaurants. It is common to see people sitting together at a table using phones and tablets, never interacting or looking at one another. I’m not thinking of a group of friends sharing memories of favorite books and films. Someone picks up their phone and verifies the exact title or cast of characters or shares pictures of a recent adventure. That enhances conversation and can even quicken our memories of other details to be shared. I’m thinking of times when I was not able to interact with someone at a table because they never stopped texting. They say they are present with us but they are not.
Do they ever let their eyes, fingers, or brains rest? Rest is vital to mental, emotional, and physical health. When we rest (sleep is included but not the only way to rest), the body-mind goes into restoration mode. Muscles soften, blood flows more freely. Energy is available for releasing toxins, healing injuries and replacing dying cells. It is a wonder to think about the many processes that are supported and enhanced when I take the time to sit down and put my feet up.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to stop for an hour in order to rest. When I was working full-time, I tried to leave my desk for five minutes every hour. I would walk outside, look at the sky and take slow, deep breaths. For those few moments, all that existed was the air on my skin, the sky, plants or birds. When I returned to my desk, my clarity and productivity obviously increased. I was calmer, friendlier and more available to co-workers. When sitting is what you do all day, gentle movement becomes a source of rest.
Rest is a necessity rather than a luxury. The immune system is always working but when you are injured or ill, it needs much more energy to return you to health. Where is that additional energy going to come from if you are doing everything you normally do? What would happen if, when you felt the early signs of illness, you unplugged and made a pot of nourishing soup? What would happen if you slept on and off for an entire day and had a cup of that soup every hour or so? Not sure? Try it. You might be surprised. You might also give others the gift of not sharing whatever your immune system is going after.
Rest is also necessary in times of emotional intensity, whether due to profound joy or profound sorrow. Emotions trigger physical responses like the release of adrenalin or a drop in blood sugar levels. Changes in chemical balance affect mental acuity as well. Learning to let something go, even briefly, while immersing yourself in beautiful music or laughing with a friend can support restoration of balance and prevent illness.
All the “doing” in the world cannot replace the love and joy I feel when you quietly look into my eyes and we actually see one another. If you are too exhausted or distracted to be present with the very people you want to share life with, what is accomplished by all that activity? My Native American teachers have shown me that being healthy and happy, living from my True Self, is the best gift I give to my “tribe.”
Please find a place in your day for rest. You deserve to be nurtured and, if you aren’t giving that to yourself, how will you have anything left to give to others? No one else can give you this gift; you must give it to yourself. Please?