I was outdoors gathering some items for a gratitude ceremony I’ll be leading in a couple of weeks when I noticed a certain stillness. Fewer birds were chirping, and the squirrels seemed to have stopped their manic shredding of pinecones on my deck. The ground was blanketed in aspen leaves in some spots. Nature is entering a period of rest.
I’m beginning to feel it in my body as well, craving warm beverages and more sleep. I’m getting Divine messages about rest, too. An old injury has flared up. I received a couple of social invitations that I really wanted to attend, but circumstances prevented me from accepting.
Guess what I’m doing in response to these nudges from the Universe? Resisting!
I’ve got all kinds of tricks–staying up too late to check items off my to-do list, saying yes to one too many activities in my day, ridiculously attempting to multi-task…maybe you know the drill. I’m also a master at telling myself that I am resting when I am really not, like sitting in a waiting room scrolling through social media or lying in bed catching up with loved ones over the phone. My body might be resting, but my mind certainly is not.
So, my question for myself this week is, “Why are you so reluctant to rest?” The answer feels both complicated and simple.
First, it’s conditioning. We live in a society that highly values achievement. We’re generally rewarded for working hard. Long hours have become the norm. Some recent studies show that people working from home because of Covid are working more hours than ever before.
Rest and self-care are marketed to us as things we need to buy–vacations, spas, home entertainment centers, luxurious bedding, comfy clothing, alcoholic beverages or even decadent foods we can eat while we’re relaxing. When we fall for this, we’re missing the point. True rest doesn’t cost a dime.
Personally, I think my resistance to rest is wrapped around the misbelief of perfectionism. It’s as if there is an achievement button wired into me and if I don’t press it often enough, I will sink into failure. Failure is also a misbelief, by the way. Perceived failures are only opportunities to grow.
Gender bias is at play here, too. What has been modeled to many people of my generation is women working hard to make the males in their lives, as well as their children of both genders, comfortable. So much so that a fair share of the workload has often been difficult to negotiate, if even understood. Now that I am living alone with no kids in the house, I don’t have that excuse, yet I’ve turned to other sources of busyness rather than savoring the opportunity to rest. It occurs to me that staying busy may be an attempt to stave off loneliness.
There is more, including a sensation that my clock is ticking, and I have limited time to learn all I want to learn and contribute all I want to contribute. To put it simply, my self-worth is tied to my productivity. And the complicated piece is that my over-productivity puts my needs last, which actually erodes my self-worth. I wonder if others feel that way. I know I have lots of tired friends and clients. Most of us are not making enough time for rest.
One of my intentions in this season of Libra, the sign that teaches us about balance, is to reframe my relationship to rest. I’m going to learn to view lounging around with my feet up as vital, not as an indulgence. I’m going to practice spending more time in stillness with absolutely no distractions–no phone, no book, no music, nothing. Preferably outdoors.
Recently while I wasn’t resting, I listened to a podcast that posed the question, “Should spiritual people say No?” And the answer, of course, is Yes! If we choose to walk a spiritual path, boundaries are vital to create the space we need to unite with Spirit. We cannot serve if we are not connected. So, learning the art of saying No is also in my plans.
Not long ago, I wrote about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s time for me to face my discomfort with rest. Perhaps by the time I lead the gratitude ceremony, I’ll actually be grateful for it.