Via Emma Derman Teitel for Elephant Journal
The radical notion of rest—why it is vitally important that we do it.
Too exhausted to think, too overwhelmed to respond, too fast, too full, too much, not enough, it’s a lot.
These are the words I hear almost everyday, from the voices of the women I sit with.
So, what is it that has us exhausted, depleted, un-inspired and desperate for the next best thing to make us feel better, more alive, more inspired?
It is a deep rejection of rest.
Choosing rest is choosing to take a radical stand for the feminine.
We will get very little validation or high-fives for lying in bed all day, sitting in the grass and watching it grow or closing our eyes in the middle of the afternoon. Few will celebrate our silence or our, “I don’t know what’s next-ness.” And it is rare to receive recognition as we float in the ocean of vast mystery.
When we choose rest, it is easy to feel unworthy.
In stillness, it is easy to question our value. It may look as if absolutely nothing is happening. And yet in the absence of doing, we will be faced with the greatest task of all—befriending and trusting our own exquisite nature. That which cannot be spoken, that which cannot be done, that which can only be felt from the inside out.
When we choose rest, we are choosing to restore what is broken. We are mending the tapestry of life that has become painfully undone with the demand of modern life.
To rest is a radical act of dissent from the collective devotion to speed—it is to claim a space of inner freedom.
When we resist rest we once again degrade the feminine. It is to abuse her, to ignore her, to call her names and to strip her of her value. It is to delude ourselves into thinking that if we do enough, eventually we will be worthy.
And yet, when we honor rest, we are taking a powerful stance for the return of the feminine in one of her most glorious forms.
Sure, there are the necessary planetary shakes going on as women rise up from all corners of the earth, changing politics, starting businesses, raising families, traveling, falling in love and everything in between. And yet, for these contributions and creations to experience sustainability, we must also rest.
Four practical ways to make space for rest.
1. Give yourself a 24-hour break from talking.
With so much collective wounding in women—around holding back, not taking up enough space or playing small there, is an insurgence of self-expression occurring for many of us, myself included! We live in a day and age where there are infinite platforms and channels through which to write, speak, make videos and share our thoughts, feelings and experiences.
This is beautiful and I am in full support, yet no woman is designed to produce indefinitely.
Many spiritual traditions, including yoga, honor and recognize the important role of silence for preserving creativity, increasing consciousness and restoring balance.
Commit to a 24-hour period without talking.
Depending on your work situation and/or if you are a parent, it may definitely require a bit of extra planning or you many only get a few hours, but either way, take the time, you will be amazed at what you find in the silence.
2. Take a full day off and spend it being.
So often, when we have a vacation or a break from work, the mind immediately starts crafting up brilliant plans for places we want to travel, things we want to get done, people we want to see and personal projects to knock of the to-do list.
While this is all wonderful and important, it keeps our bodies and our minds in a state of perpetual doing.
Operating at this pace keeps the softer, subtler and more intuitive parts of our awareness at bay and ultimately this limits our overall capacity as human beings.
Being is the key word here.
How can you set yourself up for being?
Perhaps it is sitting outside on the grass as you savor a delicious meal and watching the birds, or maybe it is lying down in bed and watching the trees outside the window. Whatever it is, I invite you to do less and to pay close attention to what emerges in your mind, body and soul.
3. Give yourself a tech detox.
I will be one of the first to raise my hand with gratitude, appreciation and love for my technology.
And yet, too much tech can quickly tip any woman over the edge. There are an infinite number of apps, ideas, articles, websites and inspirations to plug into, yet constantly turning our attention outwards means that we are missing an entire universe of experience within ourselves.
The inner world is our most fertile soil. It is from here where all original insight arises. So, give yourself the gift of turning off the cell phone, closing the computer and attuning to your inner world. You will be amazed at the colorful and complex world that is waiting for you.
4. Notice the spaces between.
Commit to noticing the pauses before the actions for an entire day. Feel the gap before the key unlocks the door or starts the car. Feel the space before food enters your mouth or the stillness before your finger hits the computer key.
We go through thousands of tiny transitions each day, see if you can be more conscious of what is happening before each new action.
The symphony of life can easily create the illusion that something is only happening when the tempo is fast and the beats are audible. And yet, there would be no symphony without the silence, there would be no beauty to the sound without the gaps in between.
From the ripe and pregnant pause is the very origin point of life itself. From emptiness emerges form, from stillness arises inspiration and from the void brilliance ascends.
Unplug the phone, close the laptop, walk outside or find your way to the bed.
Rest dear woman, your soul will thank you.