Opening to and valuing the magic and wonders of non-doing, empty time/space in which to nourish our body, mind and spirit.
Rest is a Sacred Act
To rest is a sacred act of nourishment and solace that takes courage and trust!
Recently I first heard, then read, that in most nature-based tribal cultures, adults average between three and four hours a day doing what we might call work: tending to the provision of food, clothing and shelter. The other hours of their days are passed in individual or communal creativity and play: storytelling, song, dance, ritual, art, and rest – the sacred art of just being.
I've spent the past more than 40 years of my life unlearning my so-called advanced culture's values and gradually finding my way to a lifestyle that honors my own wholeness. I've made a fierce commitment to listening inward to my body and my being. In my dedication to making choices that nourish the needs I uncover with this listening, I am being led to craft a life that is similar to this ancient, enduring model that I hadn't even known about till now.
When I began this conscious journey inward, I discovered a voracious hunger in me for time to be still and empty, time without talking or doing or being with other people. As I moved to create this space, I kept encountering inner and outer pressure to stay so-called normal, to continue filling up the potentially empty time. Part of me struggled with fear that it was only my doings that made me valuable, a worthwhile person.
My being and soul felt starved, my body exhausted from the adrenaline of unending stress and busyness. Even getting sick hadn't ever been a reason to interrupt the pace – I'd invariably keep going, sick or not. Still, I had a compelling sense that part of me would never get born or might actually die if I didn't make a quiet place in which it could germinate. My hunger for the nourishment and solace of stillness grew urgent enough to keep moving me out of the crazy-making, squirrel-in-a-cage doing, doing, doing. It helped me persevere in finding my way to the sacredness of rest.
Slowly, I started carving out empty time in which to be free to drift in whatever directions inner urgings and Spirit might move me. Free to doze, nap, daydream, watch the sky, wander aimlessly in the natural world or other places of beauty. Free to putter about my inner and outer worlds without the requirement that I accomplish anything of redeeming social value. Free from external demands and input so that I might, in leisure, digest and absorb my own experiences and come to know more of who I am and what I need in order to be whole.
I suspect that we all need some of this kind of nourishment woven into our days. When we open to valuing and incorporating rest, we are creating sacred space for magic, wonder, self-knowledge and Spirit to enter and inform our lives. Whatever enters and informs our lives moves through our lives to enter, inform and transform the world around us.
It takes great courage to choose for rest, to consciously carve out not-doing times in the midst of the constant liminal and subliminal pressures around (and within) us to stay productive in society's terms: immersed in the more conventional and, till now, more acceptable busyness of our peers.
It also takes great trust to choose for the sacred space of resting: trust that tolerating and resisting the pressures to return to busyness and business-as-usual will indeed lead to a gradual lessening of those pressures. Trust that any initial uneasiness we might feel in the open, drifting time can, with practice, give way to a growing sense of the voluptuousness of just being.
To inspire your practice of sacred resting: look for SARK's Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed, the ultimate nap book. Reverberate with this Spanish proverb: "How beautiful it is to do nothing and then, afterward, to rest." Explore and consider the shape rest might take for you in your everyday reality.
Gather a few friends to help you create a rest ethic, try doing heads-down, eyes-closed at your desk for five minutes every hour as a way to begin stopping-the-world.
Remember to be very gentle with your self as you practice moving away from busyness.