First of all we need to be clear just what it is we are referring to when we say that we are resting or we are relaxing. Chances are you have the terms mixed up or you use them in exchange with one another. They are not the same nor do they mean the same thing. However, both are vitally important to our overall physical and mental health and well being.
So what is rest? What does it mean to be at rest? We are living in a day and age where we have been told that if you are lying around doing nothing then you are lazy or you are unproductive and will never be successful. Success takes hard work and dedication we are told. I always thought that success was about being able to do what the other guy was doing only doing it better, faster and working more efficiently. There seems to be , most often, a feeling of guilt associated with inactivity. How many have experienced difficulty being able to “rest” when they go away on vacation. It feels as though there is always something to do or that needs to be done and somehow it is our responsibility to do it.
Being able to “rest” is likely one of the most difficult things for people to do. I believe that part of the reason for this is we tend to confuse relaxation with resting. We don’t really understand what it means to rest or to be to be at rest. Rest for me is finding a state of being that allows me to do absolutely nothing and feel good about doing it. It provides me with a chance to rejuvenate my senses and to enjoy who I am are as a person–comfortable in my own skin. It’s being able to recognize the “rhythm” of life around me and feel a part of it rather than the cause of it. Rest can be about sleeping although it certainly isn’t the only time that we can enjoy being at rest. When I am able to reach a state of being at rest I am able to rededicate myself to being more aware of the world around me and I am able to see, smell and hear all the wonderful parts that life has to offer me but only if I take the time to pay attention. I was walking a street the other day when I came across the magnificent smell of fresh bread baking somewhere. No big deal but it was so pleasing. Hearing something that is so out of the ordinary or seeing the sunlight that travels through dew drops in the morning. Most of us pay little attention to such stuff–we’re too busy doing…? to notice things of simple beauty. Being in that state of existence is being at rest for me.
Doing nothing and enjoying it is so important to our mental and physical health. So many people become ill because they don’t understand the need for the body and the mind to rejuvenate and to be”off duty” for a while every day. As marvellous as our bodies are they will carry us only so far before they begin to break down a piece at a time until they say to us–“I tried to tell you and this is what happens when you don’t pay attention to the messages I am sending you.” We become ill or we injure some part of our body because of a lack of stamina or a reduction of strength.
Folks have a similar problem trying to understand what it means to relax. Relaxing isn’t about doing things you like to do or that don’t involve work of some kind. How many of us work to live or do we live to work?? If you are not working then you are not “getting ahead.” Relaxing is giving our bodies permission to slow down and to replenish the energy resources and sources that we require to carry us through our days so that we can compete and provide for our families or to satisfy something that we believe we want or need. I was chatting with a buddy the other day and we got around to what he was planning to do that day. Going golfing was his response. Now this is a man who is quite competitive but has a handicap of about 18. But his goal is to lower his handicap substantially by the end of the season. For those who play golf most would say they enjoy playing the game but relaxing is not how they would describe the event. How successful cn one be trying to hit a round object with a bent club in his hand? I digress.
We need to be aware of what works for us when thinking about being able to relax and rest. These get to be choices we make and adjustments we make in our daily routines to accommodate the continued demands of our bodies and minds to provide us with the resources we need to manage ourselves efficiently and effectively. Your personal success and longevity could well depend on what you choose to do next.
Anyway that’s how I see things. All the best, Jim
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