This practice is definitely a case of teaching what you need to learn: I've been working through a big bucket of tasks lately with little chance to rest. (I console myself with knowing that the bucket is emptying a lot faster than it's filling with new tasks.)
Sometimes you can really feel what you need to do by feeling what's happening for you when you don't. "Don't," that is: ease up, unwind, recharge, put your feet up, take a load off, just chill. Because when you don't rest, you wear out, wear down, and start running on empty. Then you're not much good for yourself or anyone else.
But when you get some rest, and get more rested, you have more energy, mental clarity, resilience for the hard things, patience, and wholehearted caring for others.
I promised my wife this would be my all-time fastest JOT to write. Because I really need some rest!
And you do, too.
Tell the truth to yourself about how much time you actually -- other than sleep -- truly come to rest: not accomplishing anything, not planning anything, not going anywhere. The time when you don't do anything at all, with a sense of relaxation and ease. No stress, no pressure, nothing weighing on you in the back of your mind. No sense of things undone. Utterly at rest.
Probably not much time at all, if you're like me.
Also acknowledge to yourself any unreasonable beliefs or fears about resting -- for example, that if you rest you'll lose your edge, things will fall apart, you'll let people down, others will judge you.
Now imagine a kind, wise, fearless friend looking over your shoulder and knowing both how little time you rest and your "reasons" for not resting more. What will your friend tell you? Similarly, listen to your own innermost being about you and resting; what is that still quiet voice saying to you?
Imagine the benefits for you and others if you listen to the support and wisdom of your dear friend and innermost being.
- Upon first waking, bring to mind your fundamental purpose in life, whatever it is, and rest in the felt knowing of it, in giving yourself over to it, like resting in the warm cradling current of a great river.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness (in 14 languages), Buddha's Brain (in 25 languages), Just One Thing (in 14 languages), and Mother Nurture. He edits the Wise Brain Bulletin and has several audio programs. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he's been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide.
Dr. Hanson has been a trustee of Saybrook University and served on the board of Spirit Rock Meditation Center for nine years. His work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, and NPR, and he offers the free Just One Thing newsletter with over 109,000 subscribers, plus the online Foundations of Well-Being program in positive neuroplasticity.