It’s December 15th and I am starting to realize that Christmas IS coming. I write this from a villa 20 minutes from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico where the holiday season is nothing but an abstract idea that I can’t quite wrap my head around. I’ve done nothing which isn’t that unusual for me. I’m typically a last-minute shopper, running around with only days to spare because its suddenly occurred to me I have people I need to pick up a little something for.
This is the time of year where I start to contemplate two whole weeks off from any regular semblance of a work schedule. But me…the girl who secretly fancies her google calendar looking like a color-coded checkerboard, dreams of this time with a glint in her eye. I could finish that project. I could clean out this drawer. I could complete that paperwork. I could start my taxes. There is SO MUCH I could possibly do in all of this glorious time. And then I start to get anxious. As I write this, I feel it rising, a tightness that starts deep in my chest. And there we have the the subject of my journal this month.
What does it mean to you? Lying horizontal? Sleeping in or napping? Reading? Staring off into space? Not opening your laptop? For me, one of the things it means is putting down my phone. Too often this past year, I have found my Iphone attached to my hand when I sit down anywhere other than at my desk. When I sprawl out on the couch on a Saturday afternoon; when I tiptoe upstairs at night to go to bed. I don’t sleep with my phone on. It gets turned off so I don’t unnecessarily expose myself to more EMF. But what am I doing before I close my eyes to sleep? I am bathing in EMF. Scrolling; watching Netflix or Amazon Prime Video; catching up on news that I don’t really need to be caught up on. It’s become a habit, maybe even a bit of an addiction. It’s not rest. It’s not restful.
I was reading the other day on the theory behind which part of the brain is engaged during creative process. Studies have recently shown that it’s not the widely-touted “right brain” that lights up…it’s actually many parts of the brain that instigate, support and are supported by creative thinking and activities. The author gave tips on how to be more creative and one of the three mentioned was “mind-wandering”. Giving yourself the time and space to allow your mind to just wander around from thought to thought.
Sounds a bit like resting?
Unlike meditation, you're not trying to get away from or stop the thoughts; you are simply allowing them and allowing yourself to explore gently and without judgment. As a kid, I think this activity was a daily occurrence for me. My mother, shaking her head at me and calling me a daydreamer, is a familiar memory that brings a smile to my face. I was a creative kid. Maybe this was one of the reasons why? Come to think of it, my current meditation practice feels a lot like mind-wandering. Try as I might to empty my head for any length of time, thoughts still sneak in. And they are good ones. Lightbulb ideas! Sure I feel calm and grounded when I meditate, but I also feel excited and afterwards, am scrambling for my pen and journal. My restful, mind-wandering meditation practice is the place where the answers come, not always because it’s quiet and spacious, but because my mind oscillates between resting, churning and birthing a new thought. A thought that can turn into an idea…such as my Expand Beyond Recovery membership. I am 99% sure the idea came to me as I was sitting, resting, mind-wandering. The seed sprouted from that place.
Back to rest. Rest feels like a luxury, doesn’t it? It feels like we can only serve out a few dollops of real rest to ourselves before the “do” messages start coming in. What if we started to create and adhere to rest times in our days just like we adhere (mostly) to our meal times. What if we took 5, 15 or 20 minutes of the day and devoted it to some sort of practice of rest? What if this changed everything for us? What if we had more energy, more focus, more flow in our days because we took the time to unplug from our outer world and plug-in to our inner world. No agenda. No, “if I do this, blank will happen”; just a daily intention to at some point, get horizontal, close your eyes and let your mind wander. Or maybe it’s leaving your desk for a quick break, finding a comfortable spot where you can gaze out over your favorite view, sip a cup of tea and…let your mind wander.
Breathe. Check in with your physical senses. Slow all processing down.
What if this kind of rest is exactly what you need on a regular basis? And you are not giving it to yourself because “doing” versus “being” has been hammered into us. What would happen? And…does anything really need to happen? Perhaps all the goodness simply lives in these moments; this exploration of your inner space and the eruption of tiny volcanoes of thought and discovery. Maybe it sprouts and roots, maybe it doesn’t.
I’ve heard and read that rest is sacred. I’ve heard and read that rest is our given right as humans. Anti-grind culture is a movement gaining traction and rising up against white supremacy and capitalist/patriarchal systems. Maybe allowing ourselves to rest is a courageous act, a way of deeply honoring ourselves and our humanness: people over machines, people over things, and rest over the pursuit of. Maybe it’s the secret sauce. This holiday season, I’m going to give it a try. I’ll report back in 2023.
I'll end here with a wish for you. All the rest…all the peace…and all the love during the last few weeks of this year.
May you do all the things (including rest) with grace...and may the light of the Universe shine upon your path.