“I don’t have time to relax, that’s just another thing on my to-do-list that won’t get done”. How many times have I heard that, in my practice room and coming out of my mouth!
You know that when rest and relaxation becomes an item on a to-do-list, it’s a bit of an alarm call! And I know what I’m talking about, in my years as an accountant my bucket was always pilling on and on, never ending lists and at home too. I remember once when all my colleagues went to the pub for lunch and I stayed in, glued to my spreadsheet– now that was an alarm bell!
Why do we need to rest?
Because when we don't rest, we wear out and start running on empty. Your productivity falls; you can’t concentrate or absorb any new information.
Then you're not much good for yourself or anyone else. You get cranky, short and have no space to take in others, let alone look out for them. You also start to put on weight, but that’s by the bye. Without proper rest, we die.
But when you get some rest, and get more rested, you have more energy, mental clarity, you can focus again and new ideas start to come forth.
Being rested also gives resilience for the hard things, patience, and allows us to wholeheartedly care for others.
Why don’t we rest?
Our society has become very productivity driven and rest is seen as the opposite of that. We have a rather post industrial view of things: Why can't we keep going, just like our machines do? Because we're not machines and thinking we are is a profoundly mistaken and unhealthy view of our minds and human biology.
Maybe we are associating rest with death, nothing, nada? Death is sometimes defined as eternal rest.
How can you start bringing rest to your life today?
It’s always a good idea to be honest and tell the truth to yourself about how often do you truly don’t do anything. How often do you really put your feet up, unwind, recharge? How much are you able to just be and not accomplish anything, not plan anything, not go anywhere. When is the last time you did nothing at all, with a sense of relaxation and ease? With no stress, no pressure?
If this all sounds alien to you, then you need to start noticing the excuses that keep you busy. Simply acknowledge to yourself any unreasonable beliefs or fears about resting - those loud voices. Similarly, listen to your own innermost being, that still and wise quiet voice, what is it saying to you about rest?
Imagine the benefits for you and others if you listen to the support and wisdom of your wisdom.
So why not try to incorporate more rest time in your daily routines, only in a way that makes sense to you, that is easy and meaningful to you.
- Taking a mini breaks from focused computer work is important, this could mean wandering around the office, the kitchen, or the garden for 10 minutes. You could also go for a brisk walk at lunchtime or have a stretch and make tea for a colleague.
- Dr. Towfigh of NYC and Daverick, my QiGong teacher both say that napping for 20 minutes or so allows the body to recharge without entering the deeper stages of sleep (more than 20 mins could cause us to wake up more tired).
- Listen to your relaxation CD when you get home.
- For some, rest might be in nature - so walking, lying in a field looking at the sky or sitting by the sea watching the empty space in front of you.
- Sleep deeply, because that's what rest is: regeneration, the way your body lives, thrives, and survives, using the information it receives and creates. Stop sleep and you can die. Short shrift sleep and you wreck your ability to learn and remember, increase your chance of stroke illnesses, mess up your skin and set yourself to gain weight, quickly and reliably.
And there is more - there's physical rest, mental rest, social rest, spiritual rest, ways to renew you and restore you as your body rebuilds itself.
So what was that thing I said about daydreaming?
Dr Raichle and Dr Shulman published a paper in 2001 coining "default-mode" to describe resting state brain function; the concept rapidly became a central theme in neuroscience. The default network is a network of brain regions that are active when the individual is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest. (Also called the default mode network (DMN)).During goal-oriented activity, the DMN is deactivated and another network, the task-positive network (TPN) is activated.
The default network activates when individuals focus on internal tasks such as daydreaming, envisioning the future, retrieving memories, and gauging others' perspectives. The default network has been hypothesised to generate spontaneous thoughts during mind wandering, and is crucial for self-referential mental processing and believed to be an essential component of creativity.
This piece of research is extremely useful for Solution Focused hypnotherapists and their clients as the state of rest or daydreaming is closely similar to that of trance.
On the couch, we use this daydreaming - trance state to help you finding solutions and creative alternatives to your circumstances. Daydreaming will also help us learn (organise past memories) which is an important piece of information for students and other learners.
The research shows that daydreaming uses more energy than solving maths equations. This shows how important it is to our lives and survival, and what an influence it could potentially have. However it also cautions us that when we daydream, our brains will need something to daydream about, to put our teeth into. We need to make sure that we know what we want and we let our brain know it.
When we rest, we open up to a larger dimension of ourselves - where things flow much more easily and stuff that needs to get done does get done somehow. Here the much more important things that are not on our to-do-list get more time and can be lived. So rest allows you to fully engage with life, to become wise and grow spiritually, to learn and remember. So, how will you rest?
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