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  • Writer's pictureHannah Marsh

Choosing Rest

It's December, a month of short days and busy schedules for many of us. It's the month when I tend to reflect on the value of rest. This year, I'm curious what we choose to do (or not do) in our moments of rest. Perhaps naps, stretching, nature walks, reading, cozy chats, mindful breathing...?


What do you find is nourishing and restful?


In the pause between activities, what helps you to turn to these nourishing options?


What leads you to fill the space - perhaps with phone checking, planning, rumination, or another activity that isn't as restful?  


When I reflect on what feels most restful and nourishing to me, there's often a sense of presence. While I love curling up under a blanket and watching TV with my partner on a winter night, at a certain point, it starts to feel less nourishing. It's like a warm light dims, my mind turns dull, and my senses pull back - I'm no longer as present or appreciative. I may be doing very little, but it lacks the restorative quality of rest.


Counterintuitively, I find restful activities may take a little effort - an intention, an open presence - but once I get started they give back more energy than they take. Like meditation, yoga, or having tea with a friend. Lately, when I feel sluggish, I stand up and sing. It feels restful, restorative. Afterwards, I'm present in my body, clearer in my mind, awake. 


In other words, I've noticed a relationship between rest and mindfulness.


As we know from our mindfulness practice, even when we intend to rest, the stress from the day can remain active in the body and mind. This can be frustrating. The first and easiest reaction may be to retreat into distractions or push away what we don't like - which doesn't tend to release the stress. It takes presence and intention to choose a different response. With practice, we learn to make space for our experience; we won't always feel rested, and that's okay. By kindly turning towards our experience we can unwind some of our struggle. Mindfulness, then, supports the conditions for rest.


Of course, rest can look like many different things. Sometimes, our over-worked minds may need to zone out for awhile. That's okay, too! The invitation is not to strive for "better" rest, but to make supportive choices for ourselves, as we can.


In our next Mindfulness & Creativity session, we'll practice with rest. We'll set aside our busy doings, and see what happens. We'll reflect on what supports rest for us, right now, and how we might invite nourishing moments of rest into the coming weeks.


Wishing you a restful holiday season!

Hannah

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