Power Down to Power Up!
Our bodies are amazing. They work 24 hours a day. And they agree to make you a top priority always. Always. But like any complex and brilliant system powering down every now and then is crucial for optimal functioning. You know how when your computer just won't cooperate, just won't do what you want, the first advice is to shut it off for a few minutes and restart. Well, when do we restart our bodies? Sleep is the time for repair, restore and recharge for the vital organs, aiding and allowing for detoxification, creative expression and intellectual acuity. But is that a restart? So much is still going on while we are sleeping.
"We re-create, renew and reorganize ourselves through the process of rest….If we know how to rest, the simplest acts can become moments of pure pleasure. Rest is primarily an active process that makes us vital and (re)creative."
Matthew Edlund M.D., The Power of Rest, Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough
I think we can use our consciousness, our own awareness, to create a "restart", an opportunity to really rest. Sleeping is a form of resting, but waking resting, what Dr. Edlund calls "active resting" is a whole different animal. Something akin to sitting on the beach or walking by the river. Sitting under a tree, watching the grass grow. These moments can be resting. These moments can also be lost through distraction, worry, emotional confusion if we don't know how to rest.
One of the best ways I know to learn to rest is through meditation practice. When we meditate we can let ourselves be and allow ourselves to open to the flow of communication between heart, mind and body. This is a precious and radical act these days. When we learn to just be, learn to open in this way, we can really rest anywhere. Oddly, we often make our meditation practice another thing to do. Instead we could think of it as a way to care for ourselves, a way to appreciate our hard-working bodies and a way to simply be in our world.
In the same way that knowing you will have tea with a friend, meditation practice can become something we look forward to, something that refreshes our energy, realigns our priorities. Our top priority is rarely just breathing, especially because breathing happens without our conscious consent. Usually we have a very conscious, very loaded agenda for a given hour. We want to eat, move, breath, talk, wash dishes, respond to emails, take phone calls. Instead, meditation could be a friendly space with no agenda. When we meditate, we can just breathe.
Our breath connects us with all that is alive in a given moment. We hear, we see, we smell, we are alive. And we can be resting. Rest, awake rest, acts as a way to gather resources for anything else we might do. For every moment that we actually rest, we grow our capacity to be present in our life with vitality and awareness.
One of my favorite discourses on the beauty and power of resting:
Next week, more on breathing, believe it or not…:)
P.S. If you'd like to learn to meditate or would like support with your existing practice, please visit my mentoring page on the Essence Presence website.