Why isn’t resting rewarded? What is it about nourishment that just isn’t sexy? Why don’t we reward self-care and resting in the same way that we reward achievements and productivity? If we consider urban centres in North America (which is my most familiar habitat), the emphasis is set squarely on the doing, the going, the producing and the running around until we fall into bed in utter exhaustion at the end of the day. Why are we always so busy? Why do we often find ourselves in a loop of doing? These ways of doing, these well engrained habits and rituals, bring the focus away from being. Of simply sitting with what is. Of turning the volume down and sinking into the moment.
What would happen if we rewarded rest? If taking a nap, going for a massage, spending a day at the spa, or sleeping in now and again was encouraged? I’m talking ‘for real’ encouraged, encouraged by everyone from your partner, to your family, to your boss and co-workers, to your friends, even to people you don’t know! There are many wellness gurus who have devoted their lives to this cause, and this type of encouragement is indeed helpful, but it’s not going to shift the needle until we ALL fully embrace the idea of nourishment as a baseline for living our lives. This starts with you, with me, with each of us standing up for our right to be rested and well.
Notice your own reaction to reading this – what comes up for you? Is there a narrative in your mind explaining to you that your life is different? Perhaps this narrative is asking in indignation: “How can I possibly rest when I have to…..get the kids ready for school/prepare for that dinner party/meet that deadline at work/deal with piles of laundry/keep up with my social media for my business/all of the above?”. Then the question becomes: How CAN you? How can you create time for rest and rejuvenation in your life? How can you take agency in making these choices for yourself?
Once there is awareness of your own narrative around rest, notice the narrative of those around you. Let’s say you take the leap and spend a day in deliberate self-care, or you take a nap mid afternoon, or you dedicate time everyday to be in nature, without an agenda – simply to be and connect. What happens then? How do people react? If your friends and family react with positive encouragement, you have great friends, keep it up and get rested. However, the more common reality is that declarations of self-care are met with resistance, snarky comments or downright envy. We have all heard, or perhaps even made, comments that are reactionary to the rested being.
The rested being: a rare species that intentionally makes time for itself to be in nourishment, to rest and to be well.
The truth of the matter is that when we run on empty we aren’t actually serving anyone. How can we give from this place? We don’t have anything left. It becomes challenging to shift out of this place. I’ve been there, it’s called burnout, and it’s not much fun. Ultimately, it is an unsustainable practice that reflects into the world around us. What do you see in your external environment? Where are our practices as a culture unsustainable? How are we expected to address the pressing issues of our time when we are running on empty?
Rest and rejuvenation is vital to each and every one of us. My hypothesis is that we would live in a dramatically different world if we embraced practices of nourishment, if we embraced downtime and resting as vital to our wellbeing. And if we rewarded these practices in the same way we reward productivity. In my own journey, I have committed to my wellbeing in this way by integrating practices for self-care daily. However, I still get caught up in the daily pace of life. I know it’s not easy, and it can often feel like a salmon swimming upstream. With intention, I’m now able to catch myself earlier when I’m caught in the loop of doing. And then I try to come back to being. And that may look like 5 minutes of sitting and resting awareness on my breath. Or 10 minutes on my mat, syncing breath to the movement of my body. These practices do not need to be onerous, but they do need to be integrated with intention into daily life to notice a shift.
Intention is key here - take some time to consider how to create acts of self-care and nourishment through everyday occurrences in your life. Taking a shower can be an act of self-care if the intention is set and the actions follow the intention. Making yourself a tea can be incredibly nourishing and supportive. Similarly, cooking a meal for yourself with intention can be a powerful tool for enhancing wellbeing.
At Awakened Spirit we are passionate about cultivating a culture of nourishment. If you would like to be supported in finding your unique nourishment baseline, join us at the Reset Retreat in Costa Rica April 13-19. We will explore practices and tools to bring about a reset in your being and more balance in your doing.
Until then, be well. And REST.