Yesterday I spent the day reading, writing, and relaxing by the pool – dipping in when the sun got too hot, getting in the shade when I needed a break from the sun, and talking and laughing with Tom. We were lighthearted and delighted by the simplicity of the day. We did not allow work or phones to interrupt our time. We consciously chose to take this time together to enjoy life and one another. Summer is a great and easy time to do this as it seems to lend itself to it – there’s a collective energy of play, vacation, and lightness.
On our drive home we listened to a podcast with Broadway sensation, Lin-Manuel Miranda, a wildly creative man! He shared that much of his inspiration for his shows came when he was in a relaxed state – floating in a pool or on vacation. Of course, there’s much hard work involved in bringing what he creates to life, but there is also an opening for creativity that happens when he is in a state of rest.
I have experienced this myself and witnessed it in others – it may look like we’re procrastinating or not creating because there isn’t yet anything to show the world. But, in reality, when we slow down and give ourselves some spaciousness, our mind is free to dream, to imagine, to visualize and we are open to receive bursts of insight, inspiration, and artistry. Percolation time is a necessary precursor (at least for some of us) for spurts of creativity.
It struck me that we all have a deep need for rest, for so many reasons. As a society we are often rest-deprived, placing value on busy-ness and productivity over this restorative space that can feel like nothing is happening. What we miss is that often, something important is still going on even though there isn’t outer evidence or product to show. When we have time and space, we can access fresh perspectives for problem solving, and our imagination can dream up things that wouldn’t be possible if we forced them. When our nervous system can relax, we are not in a state of fight or flight, but rather receptivity, wonder, and openness. We are more likely to respond more thoughtfully than react mindlessly.
I offer you this way to look at REST:
R – Re-boot
E – Exit
S – Space
T – Time
Re-boot: Just as your computer or phone can get bogged down or frozen and needs to be powered down and then re-started, we too need periodic re-boots. Without taking a break, we become overly reactive, spinning (just like that annoying circle on your computer), going nowhere. Our nerves are frayed, we’re depleted and drained. We need to interrupt this spinning by stepping back from the habitual pace at which we move and the typical things we mindlessly do. We need to power down, unplug - choose to give ourselves an intentional break to refresh, rejuvenate, re-fuel, re-energize (so many great R words… I could go on forever, but I’ll spare you! You can add your own). This allows us to start up again with renewed energy, fresh perspective, a lighter heart.
Exit – Like a performer, sometimes we need to “exit stage left” from the center of our lives where all the activity is happening. Get out of the spotlight, step behind the curtain, take off the costume, mask, and makeup and just BE. Whether you step away for 3 minutes, 3 days, or 3 weeks, an intentional exit will give you a chance to re-boot.
Space – We need space in our lives – physical space, space in our schedule, distance from one another and time between activities. I was highly aware of this on our drive. I want several car lengths between me and the car ahead of me; I want to change lanes well before I need to make a turn and in a time when it’s safe to get over.
This tendency transfers to life for me. I don’t want to be squeezed into a tight space where I have to react without thinking, to feel pushed or rushed. In traffic or in daily life, these scenarios make me anxious. It’s easy to fill our schedules so tightly with calls or meetings that there is no room between meetings for a bathroom or meal break or even time to do the actual work. It’s even easier to fill our schedules so that there is no time available for the mini reboots (a quick walk outdoors, a conversation with a friend, a breath of fresh air or a day off), and we begin to feel an internal pressure of constraint and overwhelm. We need breathing room in our days in order to think clearly, be inspired or creative, show up to life’s challenges at the top of our game (or at least closer to it).
Time – We need time… time alone, time to move more slowly, time to breathe, time to connect and time to reflect. This goes very closely with space, as you can see. We need to allow ourselves more time than we think we need to get places and finish tasks!! How many of you are overly optimistic when it comes to those kinds of things? When we give ourselves time, we create the space which allows us to exit or step aside for a moment or more in order to re-boot.
How do you know when you need a REST?
What are your signals when it’s time for you to give yourself this critical R.E.S.T.? How does your body let you know? Your mind? Your heart? Your spirit? Learn to listen more closely for these internal signals so that you can respond with self-compassion and kindness. We want to be proactive in creating this time of R.E.S.T so that we don’t find ourselves “resting” with a headache, illness, or injury.
Taking time to re-boot, exit, and allow space and time will have a ripple effect! Not only do you benefit – the people in your life will thank you too! Give it a try and please let us know your thoughts and experiences here. How do you like to give yourself R.E.S.T.? What happens when you don’t? What’s your promise to yourself in terms of honoring this need in the next little while?
In need of a R.E.S.T? Join me on retreat...
If you're in need of some serious rest, please consider joining me, Sandra Sabene, and Carol Moon for this year's Let Your Light Shine Retreat, September 24-28th at the deeply restorative space that is Light on the Hill Retreat Center in the gorgeous Finger Lakes of Western NY! We have created this time to allow you lots of space and time to let down, to connect with your inner wisdom and inspiration, to renew and be deeply nourished physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually! Early bird registration closes July 31st!