Rest : What lies inside and What lies outside


Photo Credit: Michael Kenna by Germaine Fraser, RN, MA

"Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also physiologically and physically."*     --David Whyte

Out of the four stress management principles I advocate in my teaching to others and in my own practice, rest is the most difficult for me (and many of my clients) to grasp. (Maybe we should try NOT grasping...) Not being able to relate to rest must be an American thing.  Or maybe its a 21st century thing.  We have trouble not multi-tasking.  We resist sleep.  We struggle with stopping, not doing.  It might seem we are hard-wired to 'accomplish' or that our worth and value is seated in purposeful activities.

In my post, A Right Rest, I speak about the many varieties of rest that are available to us, that sleep or napping might not always be the right rest we are looking for.  It delights me that only a poet (Whyte) could so eloquently speak about rest being a conversation about loving and being.  It must be our tendencies to leave feeling out of our purposeful driven doing activity and the disinclination (due to discomfort?) to stay far from a closer connection to our being.

"We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world; we are rested when we let things alone and let ourselves alone, to do what we do best, breathe as the body intended us to breathe."*

Whyte's quote above and in his excellent essay, Rest*, eludes to the play of outer and inner and the ability to let go, to be closer to our more whole selves through the influence of our breath.  Many of our indoctrinations have us resisting quiet or rest because it is a type of death; we have little to externally show for it; and that is unacceptable to the most of ourselves.  In short, we most likely have an attitude distortion about rest: what it looks like, feels like and what it does for us.

"To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner bulls eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange."* *David Whyte, Essay #21 "Rest" 

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Photo Credit: jonathan manshack