The Seven Stones Blog

Resting in a World on Fire

By Jen Cohen

When is the last time you felt deeply rested?

On the Run:

A dear colleague of mine recently told me that she feels guilty “every minute” she is not working. Ouch. What do you tell yourself about work, productivity, rest? What messages did your parents give you? What messages are we all constantly bombarded with?

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

Hard work is the key to a good life.

Work hard. Play hard.

To stay competitive, we must stay on our toes.

If we take our eye off the ball…? Well, we can’t afford to.

You have seen the cough medicine commercials, right? No time to rest. Gotta stay up and going. Even when our bodies are crying out for us to pause, rest and restore, we medicate and push through. Sad. Costly. Unnecessary. As cultural anthropologist and United Nations advocate for Indigenous People’s rights Angeles Arrien, PhD, has said, “Reflection does not happen in fifth gear.” Do we really want to rob ourselves of something so fundamental to our health and well-being? For the sake of what?

Action: Examine the messages you have received and ask yourself what is in the way of rest?

False Refuge: 

Some of us think we are resting but, really, we have taken what the Buddhist often refers to as false refuge. Instead of deeply resting, we party or watch TV or do extreme sports. We drink or smoke or otherwise entertain ourselves, thinking somehow that spacing out or getting away is going to do for us what deep rest does. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it won’t.

Action: Ask yourself if you are substituting some other stimulation or distraction for deep and effective rest. 

A True Refuge: 

We need rest. Period. We, like all creatures, are made to live in cycles. Night and day. Full moon and new moon. Low tide and high tide. Winter and Summer. Resting is a gateway to peace and awe. It’s a gateway to new thoughts. It allows us to process feelings and catch up with ourselves. It is how we get present instead of escaping. Here are clues to see if you have taken false or true refuge:

  • Is your nervous system switching from fight/flight into a state of rest and digest? If you are not sure what this looks like, watch your cat or dog switch from the chase to lounging.
  • Do you have trustworthy friends, family or loved ones with whom you can relax deeply, that have your back and your front?
  • Do you have a connection to something larger: God, spirit, land, earth, other creatures great and small? Or anything that has you tap into the mystery of it all and our place in this awesome creation?
  • Do you think differently, feel refreshed and new and feel connected to yourself, others and something larger? Does joy bubble up from the inside?

If none of this is happening, you are probably NOT resting.

So, now what? Check out the “Resting is Required” chapter in our book, The 7 Laws of Enough, or pick up our friend Marilyn Paul’s book An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life.

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