October 21, 2015
by Nora Benian Posted in Restorative Yoga, Therapeutics, Yoga.
The desire for a day of rest is warranted and actually very much needed in our very busy lives. After all, if a car ran non-stop and never rested it’s life would definitely be much shorter. But how can we make this day of rest happen? Let’s be realistic, it isn’t easy to drop everything, even for a day, without worrying about falling behind in our tasks. But we can start with small increments.
If a full day is impossible, find a morning that’s yours alone, or an hour that you can dedicate to stillness and rest. Be patient, experiment. Be open to each moment and what it has to offer. Sometimes we get stuck in our progress at work; that’s a good time to walk away and do something non-work related. Every effort, has merit and brings you closer to creating more space for being, rather than doing, for rest instead of activity, and for reflection instead of relentless, busy action.
Carving time out for yourself can be fun, like a self-date. Make it a ritual with lighting candles or burning incense or making a cup of tea and just sitting with it as a spiritual practice. Give yourself the time to reflect and be still. You can begin the rest period with a chant, of OM or any other chant you are drawn to. Or even hum a little happy tune. And turn off the ambient electronics, TVs, radios, computers and white noise. Don’t be afraid of silence.
Stillness doesn’t mean mourning, although it will make you see the parts of you have chosen to ignore. That’s a good thing though, all of you deserves your attention otherwise it goes back into hiding and sulks for another eon. Look for a light touch, whether it comes instinctively or not. Strive to see what’s good about you instead of pointing out what needs fixing or improving. Take a break from the inner critic that’s so sharp-eyed and harsh. Ease is its own kind of prayer and it has its own reward.
Make breathing a focus, whether your practice includes formal meditation or simple introspection, make time to breathe consciously and listen. Geshe Michael Roach, a tibetan monk of 30 years plus, wrote in one of his books, “The Diamond Cutter” that we need to unplug from our normal activities for at least 1 hour a day, 1 day a week, and for 2 weeks a year with no stimulation. This gives the nervous system time to catch up processing information and finally rest. The nervous system is sensitive and can be overwhelmed. It isn’t a system that repairs easily. It doesn’t heal like a torn muscle. It requires complete dedication to rest without much stimuli and many years to recover even a little. The way we live in this modern world keeps us going non-stop even while we sleep so prevention of a nervous breakdown is the ultimate goal.
On your self-date you could take the time to make a special meal. Prepare it with intent, as something that will honour and enrich your rest, and eat it slowly, with pleasure. Healthy oils like coconut oil and grounding foods like root vegetables are most helpful for inducing relaxation. Being alone is helpful too if it can be done. You really get to hear yourself think. Sorting through your thoughts is how we clean out the clutter and make room for fresh inspirations. It’s like an automatic review of the week, and a fearless welcome for the days that lie ahead.
Get out of your head and into nature; take a walk. And that doesn’t necessarily mean a hike, or power-walk. Think Slow! Move gently through your yoga practice, with greater ease. Be generous to yourself; the idea is to see where you are, feel your body in space, and move organically, letting life happen.
You’d really benefit by coming to Restorative Yoga at least once a week but twice or more would be even better. ‘Undoing’ all the tension in the body caused by all the ‘doing’ that we do and particularly in the state of mind we are in while we are doing it, is the cause of all our tension. A 75 minute Restorative Yoga class gives the body time to relax quite deeply, allowing the brain and nerves to slow down the communication and feedback between them inducing a state of peace and tranquility. Practicing Restorative Yoga regularly trains the body and mind to come to this peaceful state much more easily in times of stress. It is the practice of just BEING.
Committing to these practices is like making sure you are looked after in the most important ways possible. It’s like loving yourself in the deepest way imaginable. You are the care-giver to yourself. And only you know what you really need at each moment to find inner balance. There will be weeks when the demands of work or life will seem too great to set aside. These are the times you can remind yourself of the promise you made to renew and replenish by doing nothing. And remember, a tranquil moment in a sea of activity is no small achievement at all.