Practice, Interrupting to Rest
What? Interrupt my day, my work, my commitments, to rest? Actually put my head down? Close my eyes?
Over the holidays I had a rare opportunity to be alone in my house. My colleague Gina LaRoche gave me the idea to have a home retreat, a day of silence, and I was inspired to integrate this meditation practice into the movement of tending to house chores. However, I was also deeply tired. Like many others, I was fighting some virus and had enjoyed the festivities and was now needing to recover my vitality.
When I woke up in the morning, I felt the tension of the polarity: how could I fulfill on my commitment to myself to use this time to be consciously present while being productive, and fulfill on my commitment to self-care, to rest?
The key was my overall intention to be present. My commitment to have a day of movement meditation allowed me to do both: work and rest. At the same time. This was new. Normally, I would rush around to get as much done as possible and then crash. Or, alternatively, I would curl up with a book or in front of a movie and feel anxiety rise up my belly as time ticked away and daylight hours waned with my motivation to clean.
The outcome of this experiment: I completed my list of to-dos in the house and got the rest I needed.
Here’s how it worked: As I moved around the house I watched my mind. I observed my movements and my sensations. I did some of the unwinding the promise of vacation provides. I was meditating and being productive.
Then, there would be a moment when I would feel a heaviness and I would simply lay down on the floor, wherever I was! I would lay there until I was done laying there. Sometimes for five minutes, sometimes for 15. I might have dozed off once of the half dozen times I rested.
This radical practice of interrupting my work flow to rest and restore has me considering how to put it into practice during non-vacation times, both in my personal and professional life. Obviously, there are times when we cannot put our heads down on our desks. But surprisingly there are plenty of opportunities to rest while we work. And research shows rest periods during the day increase productivity. So, it’s really up to me to make the pause in my “get it done” energy and listen to the messages of my body. To trust the work will be there when I return to it. That time is not as static as I think it is. And that rest is available in places I never considered, even over a pile of laundry.
(Gratitude to Marsha Shenk for gifting us her eBook that validated the importance of rest for vitality.)