6 May 2022 | BY ANDJELKA JANKOVIC | Life
How 'bout remembering your divinity?
I heard myself saying “I’m doing great!” when really I was drowning.
I see it in my friend’s eyes all the time. We do a good job of holding it together when actually we’re not.
In truth, I was in a sea of rush with a back-to-back-to-back schedule and competing commitments pulling me in different directions. I kept going to drink water from an empty glass on my desk… because I didn’t have a spare moment to get up and refill it. Which is crazy to me now.
I had developed this manic pace in my work week that felt like poison in my body. I even wrote down a list of how it felt on a given day (toxic, rushed, wired, overwhelmed, distracted, interrupted, constricted, scattered, not present — and thirsty).
I was enthusiastic about everything I was doing, but it was too much.
And then on I hit a wall. Obviously.
On the day I declared I would start writing my first book, I started the day with 14 hours of old-fashioned sleep. I didn’t open my laptop for the next three days and three nights. My sheets were definitely not getting washed and it took me two slow hours to make lunch. I could feel I was teetering on the edge of a full-blown sickness.
I would like to spend the rest of my days in a place so silent, and working at a pace so slow, that I would be able to hear myself living. — Elizabeth Gilbert
Here’s the thing: there’s always SOMETHING to do. Someone to text back or somewhere that wants your attention. Trust me. I’m a Vatta Virgo type and my alter ego (Turbo Teresa) is an all-or-nothing, hyper-productive, multi-tasking gal that eventually feels like that reel of a balloon floating along, deflated.
I needed to recalibrate and decompress.
Around this time, I came across that there are seven types of rest, beyond just sleep. There is – physical, emotional, mental, sensory, creative, social and spiritual rest. I was lit up. This idea was originally pioneered by Saundra Dalton-Smith in her book Sacred Rest and TED Talk. She says poignantly: Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested — now there’s a challenge. I haven’t actually read the book or watched the talk, but I loved the concept immediately and started experimenting with it. Although I noticed that there was one missing.
I call it: cosmic rest.
When you are bone tired and your soul is exhausted and you have nothing sincere to give. I knew I needed cosmic rest when I didn’t have the energy to sit for tea and not even a Sandra Bullock film could revive me.
So I decided to STOP. To feel the sun on my face for a beat. I am in a week of restorative rest to experience the seven types for myself and experience cosmic rest. The first night I laid in the dark with two candles burning and re:stacks on repeat, falling asleep at 7:30pm. Bliss.
The first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness. – Mary Oliver
I could no longer allow myself to feel like I was always running late to the bus when there was in fact, no bus to catch. This is the modern-day equivalent of running from a tiger in Flight or Fight mode, but now instead of a tiger – there is your pinging inbox. I needed to soften into stopping. Do away with my colour-coded calendar. Fill up my damn water glass and just be.
If you think to rest is wildly privileged, you’re right — it is.
And to take rest is also your birthright to be well.
My friend Yas had messaged and after I said I was taking three days and nights of rest, she replied: “Like when you’re not sick? Never have I ever”. I know, it’s wild. A lot of us don’t give ourselves permission to receive rest. Taking time ‘off’ (I even resist saying this term because of our conditioning that being ‘on’ is productive; capitalism has made us into dancing monkeys) means saying no and saying no makes us uncomfortable.
But, in my experience, you won’t know the privilege of your health and vitality as your highest values in life until you are very unwell. So why not take a pause before that happens?
Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it. — Bronnie Ware
I literally have to stop and ask myself twelve times a day: What’s the rush, AJ? And think, as Henry David Thoreau so brilliantly said: “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
We all need to rest our body, mind and spirit from time to time.
I have never protected my serenity, joy, happiness, safety, nervous system, creative practice, self worth, or attention more than I have in the last three months. The boundaries it has taken to do this has been extremely uncomfortable. To give up people pleasing is not a simple act. The rewards are plentiful. The reward is a comfort within myself I have never experienced before now. The reward is expansive. — Marlee Grace
I wanted to share how cosmic rest is a gamechanger and the seven types of rest that remarkably brought me back to life:
1. Physical Rest
I’m just going to say it: put yourself to bed. Physical rest is not just a sleep-in but going to sleep early. Way before you want to go. I’m talking about that 12 hours you desperately need to allow yourself to have. No alarm, phone off, zero guilt. A sure-fire way to circuit break a bad day, a running on empty week or on the cusp of a meltdown year. Also, it’s okay to skip that yoga class or gym session or social invitation; if your body doesn’t want to do it, but your ego does, consider listening to your body. The washing can wait, the ocean wants you to jump in it.
2. Mental Rest
A break from new inputs. For me, this means no laptop and minimal phone time. Not doing things for others – even for a day. Giving the hustle, to-do list and ‘get shit done’ pace a pause. The world will not implode if you don’t get back to someone straight away. Make your favourite easy dinner without fanfare and give yourself exactly what you need. Probably includes no bright-lit screens or mental stimulation. This is a call to slow down and give your mind a rest.
3. Emotional Rest
This is more meditation and more solitude. Connecting is the joie de vivre of life, and yet emotional overload can lead to a frazzled nervous system. You can be buzzing on high energy one moment and in a ditch the next. This happens to me often when I have something to process (including good experiences!) and no time alone to reflect and make sense of things. When I need emotional rest, I like to put on chill music (like alpha waves soundtracks or Ray LaMontagne), have a tea ceremony, go for a walk, or sit in my favourite cafe window seat with a chai and write out quotes and poetry. You may need to ask for support, or just give yourself emotional space and see what happens.
4. Social Rest
Saying no, or no right now, and embracing your Solitude Sally (or Sam). A break from over-connecting (online, in real life and in text messages). I hit my capacity on this one fairly easy as an ambivert and Projector who loves humans and is also a hermit who has very happily travelled a lot of the world alone. When I was burnout, I went to my friend Jill’s house to eat vegan pizza and try on clothes and giggle on her bed like teenagers. You can still see people, just only if you really want to. It’s also important to communicate boundaries here with well-meaning friends like “I’m not available this weekend.” (notice the full stop, scary I know!) or “I’m prioritising rest at the moment” (you can do it!) or “I’m not ignoring you, I’m just overwhelmed”. Taking a rest from being overly social allows you to show up as your full self, and not be depleted for longer.
The trouble is, you think you have time. — Buddha
5. Sensory Rest
I love this one. A cleansing dip in the ocean, a walk in a park collecting leaves, a day hike in a forest. Nature is the ultimate sensory rest. It could be whatever you need to not feel overloaded with life. To notice flowering trees and run buttery soft wattle agently cross your face. Laying in a bath and making silent conversation with one star. The sun does wonders here too, like stopping on the street just to feel it on your face for a moment longer than you normally would. Try it. Now for you, this could also mean watching nature documentaries or making pasta from scratch with your hands fully in it. That’s fine too – your rest doesn’t have to look Instaworthy. It just has to be true.
6. Creative Rest
Now we’re getting into the juice. This was a huge lesson for me. For my well-timed breakdown moment was on the day I decided to write the great next novel, I had to really surrender to creative rest. The ideas were coming in rapid-fire (thank you divine channel!) but because I didn’t have the energy or will to open my laptop, I wrote them all in my phone notes instead (like this article). Creative rest could be nixing your grand plans to fit forty-five hobbies into one human weekend, or accepting that the garden is just not going to get replanted today. Maybe you get the watercolours out, or maybe you just read Country Living magazines for a whole afternoon instead.
7. Spiritual Rest
The hardest one for me to accept! It’s okay not to advance your soul’s evolution today. A break from reading something heavy, or trying to understand and unpack a complex theory, or taking a pause on your regular rituals (like daily tea meditation for me). I basically needed to give myself permission to let the wheels fall off for a day or two. It was a huge relief to give myself spiritual rest. To skip a practice, not because I was lazy, but because I had zero in the tank to give it. And then knowing I would return to my spiritual anchors like movement and journaling (or whatever they may be for you) when my strength and genuine desire returned too. Hint: this is what will revive you the most.
Please don’t forget to do the practices that stabilize your mind, heart, and nervous system. It might be a privilege, but it’s not selfish to do so. You’ll be much more help to the world if you feel settled in your own being. – Ethan Nichtern
8. Cosmic Rest
For me, this looked like two solid days of doing not a whole lot (sleep, slow cooking, gentle hike and laying on a hilltop meadow in the sun) and then treating myself to a two-hour massage and a plate of fries. Heck, I’d even pay for someone to stroke my hair for hours on end at any price. This could look like whatever you want it to be: packing the car and sleeping in a swag. Not going anywhere for a couple of days. Hugging your cat on the bed. Becoming your cat (they have truly got it figured out). Whatever leads you to peace. This is about balancing your inner world to be as rich as the outer one you are going to return to.
Cosmic rest is you — accepting you’re not going to get anything ‘done’ today — before your ego kicks in. Doing what you actually want in any given moment, know what you should be doing. Cosmic rest is couch time. Sit there and let your mind wander. Listen to your favourite album. Stay in bed all day reading. Stick your head in a bush of jasmine. Cosmic rest is ordinary and holy. Cosmic rest feels like a Sigur Ros soundscape is playing in your body. If all you can do is nothing, then do that.
After my glorious massage, the masseuse who intuitively picks up on what’s going on in people’s bodies said that mine had a “lack of nurturing”. Not from me, but the external kind. We can only nurture ourselves so much. We all need someone to help us release pressure (please sit on my sacrum), or ease a pain, or to be held. Hello, hammer on the head.
So specifically myself I thought I’d die from being loved like that. — Marie Howe
This is written as a guide and an invitation.
When I burnt out, I sincerely didn’t know what day it was and I didn’t care. It felt like there was a toxin coursing through my body and I wanted it out. It is my first week now of true rest (although I have done this at different points in my life) and I am just getting started. Of course, I always think I could be doing more — but I choose not to. What I am doing is enough. And it is a real choice we can all make.
Rest is not doing nothing (although being idle is great). Rest is non-doing, the opposite of rushing and cramming in and over-scheduling yourself to the point of having no time to even pee.
A word on laziness: resting is not lazy. It is non-doing, a positive state, rather than overdoing (#busy #killingit #hustle). When you are being truly lazy, you know it because you feel dull and dead. Resting is recharging your energy so you can be your radiant self once again.
To rest is not self-indulgent; to rest is to give the best of ourselves. — David Whyte
My rest will not look like your rest.
And if you need planetary permission, the May New Moon reading is ‘we have so much vitality and courage now to initiate new projects and turn our dreams into action. We can relax knowing that Jupiter will be visiting Aries for an entire year. There’s no need to hurry and act, even as fires of passion begin coursing through us.’
I am currently reading two fascinating books to continue the study into rest with Stolen Focus: Why We Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari and Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman (which is how long we all on average have to live).
I’ll also be doing The Necessary Art of Rest with David Whyte in May where he delivers a three-part online journey into the deeper human experience of rest. You know how much I love him! Here is the first prompt from David before we begin:
What might happen if you let go, for however short a time?
All that fluttering and rushing that I couldn’t seem to shake, has come to a standstill. I now laugh at how much I thought I could do in one day. I still have a lot I want to do, and it will get done – and even better – when I am feeling refreshed.
I don’t want to die with a book inside me.
So I will begin writing it, but not at any cost to my health or aliveness.
I welcome this new pace, that feels a little foreign to me, but also like my soul’s home.
The world didn’t cancel me because I took some time off from it.
As it turns out, having boundaries and prioritising rest expands you.
I can do nothing for you but work on myself… you can do nothing for me but work on yourself. — Ram Dass
My friend said: you look changed.
The water glass is now half full most of the time.
I just made my bed with freshly washed linen.
And I’m about to take myself out for oysters and frites (my first child will be a potato).
From this well rested place ~ the sacred work can begin.
In a beautiful world that has come to hooray the hustle, I find my sweet-loving soul rebelliously dancing to the contrary. For this season, busy has no place. Busy cannot lasso my time – it is down by the river, sunbathing on silky rocks. – Tess Guinery