Doing the Holy Nothing; Quick Ways to Build Rest into your Life
Even though you are really tired or running on empty, do you feel like there really isn't time in your life to rest or nap or to go to bed early due to all your responsibilities ( jobs, attending to kids needs, home maintenance, bills, exercise, so on and on)?
This is pretty much par for the course in modern life. I used to hardly stop to breathe because there was so much to do. Because of this my relationships suffered, even with my children, for whom I thought I was doing all that work! Is it possible to deeply rest without taking up too much time? Yes! After lots of painful lessons, I now deeply value the role of rest in my life and have many quick ways to weave it into my daily life. Read on to learn how you can, too...
In this series of mini-articles I will describe 3 different methods of “doing Nothing”, that can be done quickly and deeply with a bit of dedication.
The first steps are to quell the voice that calls you lazy and says it's not okay to chill, as well as to learn to value rest as the juiciest action step to take at any given moment . In my last newsletter I wrote about overriding that inner slave driver voice, pointing out specific ways to quiet that fearful voice, and I listed some of the benefits of rest here . There is a bigger reason that doing Nothing can be truly a holy act, which I will let you in on in my next article. But how about a little practice, first?
Now that you have started to doubt the voice of the inner slave driver and can hear your exhaustion for the wise message it is, how do you heed the call when your body or soul needs to slow down? Here is the first way to regenerate your body, mind and spirit through “doing Nothing”, which you can weave into your day for 5 minutes or more at a time.
Let your mind take a rest by going wordless. Meditation is always great for this, but if that is not your thing try this: engage in some movement like taking a walk or dancing (this doubles as exercise!); or watch something that is moving, like a river lazily swirling by or trees blowing in the wind. Be present with what you are sensing or seeing.
Though you might think, “Hey, moving isn't resting!” I will counter by saying it is mental rest. Temporary mental exhaustion is a common phenomenon. A majority of adults operate in brainwave state of Beta (thinking mode). These brain waves, associated with normal waking consciousness and a heightened state of alertness, support logic and critical analysis of situations and circumstances. But when we spend too much of our lives centered in this frequency we become stressed out, sick, and diseased.
Repetitive movement activates the parasympathetic nervous system, quieting the "fight or flight" response, and leads us into a restorative wordless brain state, the Alpha state ( the meditative or trance state). Repetitive motion ( watching or engaging in) also puts us into the state of Flow. The effects of flow, the “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best,” are similar to those of meditation, reducing stress, fighting inflammation, and enhancing creativity.
I see the amazing effects of the power of repetitive movement and the states of flow when I teach, or do, Uplift Yoga Dance. The busy thinking mind loosens its exhausting grip and the gifts of meditation manifest in the women who participate, as well as the gifts of exercise. Nearly every time I teach someone will utter “ So much better now!” or “ This is saving my life” at the end of class. I know that this form of wordlessness has powerfully altered my life by restoring my creativity and given me access to my wellspring of clear and potent life force.
Try letting your mind go wordless for a while with repetitive motion. Tell me how it goes! Comment below.