Rest & Meditation
Rest and taking time to slow down and nourish our souls is so important, it is something I have had to learn first hand, naturally being a type A personality and someone who loves "to do" lists and achieving, rest initially sounded so foreign and even scary to me. It wasn't until I realised that it is just as essential to our health and wholeness as is taking an important vitamin supplement or a good diet that I started paying attention to rest.
Firstly what do I mean by rest? Although it is very important we get 8 - 9 hours a night of physical rest, most people are already aware of this, so what I am talking about here is the internal rest, it's a state of being. So often we are our own worst critics, we blame ourselves, drive ourselves hard, burn the candle at both ends and essentially we are often much harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. This can become an ingrained mental habit and pattern, a need to 'succeed', achieve, out-perform, often this is born out of a deep heart need to feel loved, worthy and secure. The tricky thing is that these outward accomplishments can never meet an internal need like this.
So instead of pushing ourselves harder, the key to finding fulfillment, happiness and true rest is in doing the exact opposite of what those initial instincts suggest. When you feel the compulsion to write a 20 item to do list, don't. Instead pick 3 key things that would be most important and focus on these. When you finish a task, instead of rushing ahead to the next thing - pause - and take a moment to congratulate yourself on a job well done. If you find yourself paralised by fear of making a decision because you want the outcome to be 100% perfect, take a second to remember that nothing in life is 'perfect' and that if it's 80% finished, you can tweak and adjust the remaining 20% as you go.
True rest is about stopping the rat race in our thoughts and activities and practising slowing down long enough to see the scenery. Taking a moment to look around you, really look! Open your eyes and your heart to see the beauty that surround you right now in this moment. What things are you missing when you take that hurried, anxious approach to life? Sit in the sun, read a good book, take some deep breaths, practise a regular morning meditation (see at the end of this article for some good app's to help you get started with this), take an epsom salts bath... practise relaxing. For many people, myself included, this feels really weird and strange to begin with. This is OK. Just know that it absolutely will feel uncomfortable to begin with, this is normal and in fact I have now learnt to embrace that feeling as it signals to me that I am growing and changing and moving forward.
Take 5 minutes today to have a look at your life, where you have been running so fast and hard that you are missing out. What are you missing out on? What are those moment you'll never be able to rewind and get back? How is the stress of being your own harsh taskmaster affecting your life, happiness and health? And make a commitment today to choose one new habit you will practise every day which will help you move forward towards becoming a person of rest.
Yours in rest,
Angela Busby Nat. Nut. Herb.Med.
Here's some tools to help you on your journey:
- "Headspace" free mindfullness app - great for beginners and experienced alike.
- "Calm" another great, free mindfullness app.
Daily Rest Ideas:
Walk the dog (slowly) and take in the sights and sounds of your neighbourhood
- Sit in the park or at a cafe and just observe the scenes unfolding around you without thought or judgement, just be a part of the experience
- Take a 20 min epsom salt bath (maybe listening to some of your favourite music, reading a good fiction book, listening to a podcast or simply doing nothing but focusing on your breathing)
- Every day take 10 deep breaths - Breathing in for 8 seconds and out for 10 seconds (helps lower your heart rate and calm your nervous system, while oxygenating your brain and body!)
- Read a good fiction book that whisks you away to another time and place, something you can loose yourself in and not think about that to do list!
- Be realistic with your goals and with your to do list (remember you are not superwoman/man - you are human and that is A-OK, so if you've been prone to living like a super hero you may need to start by cutting your list in half for awhile until you get the hang of what us humans can realistic fit into a day ;) )
- Give someone you love a hug and just stay there 1 second longer than you normally would, be present in their embrace.
- Journal - express and release your thoughts, feelings, fears and joys.