Resting

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Imagine an orchestra in which every instrument played manically and constantly.  The sound would be terrible.  So it is with you when you stay manically active for too long.  Photo by Kael Bloom on Unsplash

Music does it.  When it suits the music, an instrument rests.  It spaces out the emotional import of a piece, and creates intellectual room to breathe.

Hearts do it.  Approximately every second, your heart relaxes, allowing your blood flow to slow down, and for another store of blood to settle itself into the right position, ready to be propelled around your body once more.

Your mind does it.  Almost without fail, every day, your mind switches into a different mode.  It stops paying attention to the outside world in the same way, and travels inward, allowing a different kind of flow, not so controlled, more absent.

THE POWER OF RESTING

Nature is full of illustrations of the value of rest, from the seasons’ flow in and out of spring, to the day’s flow in and out of sunlight.  Whether you like it or not, your body is created from millions and millions of years of experimentation involving light and dark, fast and slow, active and passive.

Much as you might want to be all light, speed and activity, that is not how the balance works.  You have darkness, slowness and passivity built into you just as much.

Like your phone when you charge it up, your body has learned to plug in to various resources in the quiet times.  For example:

  • Your senses recalibrate themselves; your vision regains acuity, your hearing restores focus, your senses of touch and temperature revitalise and settle themselves
  • Your body learns and relearns a peaceful setting, whereby it can use far less resource; your breathing shallows, your blood pressure falls, and your muscles become partially paralysed while they refill with latent energy
  • Your mind distances itself from all your direct problems, so that your anxiety can subside, and you can enjoy the freedom of being allowed into new imaginitive spaces
REFUSING TO REST

Sometimes we refuse to rest.  We think we are helping. We think that by starving ourselves of restoration, we can somehow do better in our self-imposed role as General Manager of the Universe.

We intervene in things that don’t need our intervention.  We barge in to situations and conversations that don’t need our input.  We have, frankly, an exaggerated sense of our own usefulness compared with others.  If only we knew how well the universe would do its simple job without us, we would not be so reluctant to stop and rest.

AN EXERCISE

So stop for a while, whatever you are doing.  See whether the world collapses as a result.  It won’t.

And over the next few days, try to stop more often.  Do what your heart does, what music does, what sleep does.  Give your life the benefit of transition between moods.  Balance your energy with rest.

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SUMMARY

Rest and relaxation are part and parcel of many systems in the universe, including your own body.

Allowing yourself to rest increases your potential energy: your senses, body and mind need frequent rest to perform optimally.

Refusing to rest is a little bit arrogant, as it pretends that we are so important that the world cannot do without us.  In reality, it will be fine.

Try to test this out.  Stop and rest more often, however difficult it seems.  It will make your life more beautiful.

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