It’s the New Year and the time to consider goals and resolutions. I have been rolling the thought around my head, “in life only one thing is important:______”. Finally, this morning I heard that still, small voice in my head answer, “rest.” At least in this season in my life as I work full time, busy with mothering tasks and household chores ‘til 10pm, I find little time for quietude. Going against the brainwashed imbedded Puritanical work ethic and even more relentless, just the necessities of daily chores, I guilt free make time for at least exercise (because I would feel guilty if I didn’t exercise, its like brushing my teeth, just must be done.)
My precious lunch breaks have always been jealously guarded from infringement, as are most of my mornings. I wake up early enough to read some Peaceful passages, followed by some wise podcast while doing morning tasks prior to waking my daughter, still I need more rest. Then when she is a wake its this a mad rush to get out the door on time. I hate rushing, rushing her, she is a kid and loves to diddle daddle, which is her right.
Rest is divine, literally in the Judeo-Christian view, God rested, making it a holy commandment. The Hebrew word for “rest” is imbedded in their word for health. There are several proverbs that state this relationship between health and rest. Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.[ Stop allowing yorselves to be agitated and disturbed.]" If you consider the opposite of rest and ease is fear, stress or dis-ease, modern medicine has come full circle and proven that stress is the cause for most if not all chronic illness. Stress literally unravels DNA, damaging our bodies at a cellular level.
I have heard people say health and a stress free life are only possible by living at one with nature. Yet it isn’t a realistic possibility to live according to the natural rhythm of the sun, wake at 5 go to sleep at sunset or even 10pm, we DO have the light bulb thankfully. I lived that way working as a goat herder in Ireland and on an organic farm in a self-sustainable village in Germany and I was not exceptionally healthy or enlightened. You either believe you’re still living a natural life subject to its laws or you believe in divine supernatural health. I tend to be moving more towards the latter even ‘tho it’s totally impossible, which is why it is possible.
Rest just isn’t the absence of work, but an internal state of worry free peace. I can’t imagine not having internal rest without some kind of hope that my future is taken care of, it will all work out somehow. Yet there is that tension of still learning as I go, while not knowing what lies ahead, which makes life and growth far from boring.
Rest can be doing something physically vigorous. For someone stuck working in a building all day, rest might be doing some yoga in the sun or running on the beach. For someone sitting at a computer all day rest might be doing some Tabata training. Exercise regulates the endorphins in the brain, like melatonin for a good night’s sleep and serotonin for a state of well-being. I definitely consider my lunchtime workouts as rest. It’s better than a nap, I’m uber-energized for everything I have to do until 10pm. Last Thursday I was too sore from the previous day’s Turbulence Training to do even a 10 minute bodyrocktv workout. It was such a spring like afternoon I just mastered quiescence at the beach. I need to incorporate more cessation into my mix for 2012.
The paradox seems to be when I maintain my inner peace (it is a choice that needs to be exercised), then Grace has the space to flow w/me (or vice versa is probably more the reality). The laundry gets done, dinner somehow comes together, things happen so effortlessly. Maintaining that peace when things are falling apart is part of my growth. In the coming New Year I plan to carve time for somnolence, to pray more, find my yoga flow again, finish that book, that nagging screenplay, those almost finished paintings. Since studying Mandarin is not my idea of rest (requires a lot of my brain power), I know that Chinese calligraphy is, and I am fascinated by characters.
In my class I often play the Sound of Music soundtrack during lunch time and I am ever awed by the wise lyrics Julie Andrews sang in the song “Confidence”,
“Strength doesn’t lie in numbers
Strength doesn’t lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up—Wake Up!”
Ultimately I need to rest because I have been too busy to dream and I’m a dreamer. I need to be charmed by an idea, uplifted by a vision, inspired by a goal and last year all those lofty aspirations from the previous year lost their luster between the daily grind and procrastination. 2011 was a year of learning (hooray!) a blessed year of travel (hooray!) also a painful year of looking into the mirror of my own destructive habits and underdeveloped parts. I spent the last 3 months of the year waiting for the latest dream to fall into my lap, edify me and illuminate my direction. Just after 2 beach vegging out interludes, I discerned those former inspirations are worth pursuing and the passion will return once I just get over the fear of finishing something and just get on with it.
So here is to just getting on with it! (And doing more of nothing).