The Challenge with Rest
Rest. Stillness. Quiet time. Me time. Relaxing. Doing nothing. Taking a break.
Whatever we name it, it can be a challenge to rest. Giving ourselves time to rest can come with its own issues, emotional as well as physical.
Taking rest can definitely bump up against a lot of internal beliefs we have.
We can easily think the challenge with rest is that “I have no time for rest. I am not doing enough and therefore my focus should be how I can do more, be more effective, be more productive, give more, show up more, more more more.”
One challenge that we have with rest is the “mores” or the “not enoughs” the “not enough times.” When we succumb to these beliefs or thinking traps, we can truly believe whatever we do will never be enough, therefore we must keep doing. We can easily get overwhelmed but instead of rest, we keep going. Guilt can easily be a motivator to keep us moving. “If I take a break, I am being selfish.” “It’s not ok for me to take time for myself.” “There are too many things to do and I will feel worse if I get behind.”
We may or may not be aware, but at some level there may be a belief that if we keep “doing” we can outrun what underlies the “not enoughs”, a deep and pervasive discomfort with the belief that we, as individuals are “not enough.” That somehow if we can keep moving, keep going, keep doing, keep up, we can avoid this deeper realization that we may feel that our relationship with our own selves is “not enough.”
Shame is a very hard to turn towards and not away from. It is the hardest thing for a person to look at how their actions, behaviors, thoughts, beliefs, and relationships are an extension of shame and its manifestation in our lives.
So, a challenge with rest can certainly be not feeling “enough” within ourselves so we evade and avoid through action and constant autopilot movement.
To step into rest, to be still and quiet with one’s self is to get acquainted with those deeper thoughts that we try to avoid when we are constantly keeping active and moving around our lives.
And there is nothing wrong with movement. There is nothing wrong with any of it. Nothing wrong with rest. Nothing wrong with avoiding rest. Nothing wrong with being uncomfortable with stillness and quiet. And absolutely nothing wrong with you.
We all experience the discomfort and all of us have moved and not moved for reasons beyond intentionality and purposefulness. We have all moved because of anxiety, unease, discomfort, avoidance of self. There is nothing wrong with it because it doesn’t fit into the category of good & bad, right & wrong. It fits only in the realm of compassion toward self, understanding of self, loving kindness toward self, being a student of self. It fits into awareness. From awareness, all movement or stillness can be intentional and a way to get acquainted and build a relationship with one’s self, based in radical honesty.
When we are moving, we can move with intention, with mindful awareness. “This is me moving and taking action”. “There is purpose to my movement and my actions.” “There is a true benefit to myself or others from my movement and actions.” OR “I am deeply aware that in this moment, I am moving because resting is uncomfortable.” “Breathing in, I will stay present with this awareness of my discomfort while I move. Breathing out, I offer compassion to my discomfort.”
When we are still and resting, we can be still and rest with intention, with mindful awareness. “This is me being still and resting.” “There is purpose to my stillness and rest.” “There is a true benefit to myself or others from my stillness and rest.” OR “I am deeply aware that in this moment, I am uncomfortable with being still and resting.” “Breathing in, I am aware of my discomfort. Breathing out I offer compassion to my discomfort.”
Another challenge with rest and being still, is that a lot of old difficult emotions from past experiences, that have been trapped in the body, can surface.
For example, there have been times I have felt upset and had no idea why. I may feel irritable and restless in my body. It wasn’t anything that happened in the moment or that day, so pinpointing my upset seems not possible. In those moments, I choose to sit still for a time with myself to inquire deeply about my feelings. In sitting still, my body gets a break. I focus on my breath. And I notice my emotion of anger begin to surface and I feel bodily sensations that correlate with my anger. I may remember the moment or experience that also correlates to my anger, but it is not important if I remember or not, just sitting with myself is enough. If I do remember the moment, I may remember that I didn’t speak up, or say what I wanted to say. I may remember freezing in the moment and not turning around and walking away. The feelings of anger did not get released in that moment (which is typical because many of us do not act out of physical anger), and I did not find a way to release my anger later, so my anger got trapped in my body. Later on, my body gave me an indicator that the emotions were still trapped in my body. The indicator was my being upset and not knowing why. This was my body’s way of letting me know “we have some unresolved emotions and bodily sensations here”. Being still gave me the opportunity to revisit myself, my emotions, and the trapped emotions in my body. And to bring awareness and mindful attention to my upset. I gave myself time and space to address my upset. And I breathed through my upset with loving kindness, tenderness, compassion.
Intentional breathing is a transmuting action within the body that can release trapped emotions and trapped bodily sensations.
For some of us, being still may create anxiety because the body may be experiencing a stress response from a past experience, and movement feels like the natural thing to do to release that stress (not avoid it) but actually kinetically release it. Movement for some of us, may be our way of addressing those deeper trapped bodily sensations of anxiety, anger, fear. So, when we move, we experience a kinetic release of pent up emotions trapped in our body. Stillness can feel kinetically unpleasing and counterintuitive. Stillness can feel as though we have stopped doing the one thing that seems to give us relief from the uncomfortable bodily sensations of trapped emotions from what we didn’t get to do in a challenging stress-producing moment, fight or run. So, we keep moving. We keep doing. And stillness seems impossible, even frightening.
If you recognize yourself in this, there is hope. I have personally experienced trapped emotions in my body from past experiences. Stillness and rest were certainly a challenge for me and made me feel anxious, restless, and uneasy. I distinctly remember fearing turning in toward my feelings and sitting still with myself. Not sure what would come up.
EMDR and trauma therapy can certainly help if stillness produces anxiety and fear. Learning helpful tools to navigate difficult emotions that arises during stillness can help. Be easy and gentle with yourself as you learn new ways to be with yourself. Take it slow. Step away anytime you need to. Honor yourself always.
Rest is a natural part of the rhythm of our human life. Just like in nature, we too need time to rest, relax, restore our bodies and minds. When we take time to rest, truly rest, we can begin to rejuvenate, and renew ourselves. The actions and activity, physical or mental, that arise after times of deep rest will feel more peaceful and joyful within ourselves.
The benefits to rest are limitless. The effect of rest on our bodies and minds countless.
With gentleness and compassion, move through what interferes with your rest.
Be a radical student of yourself.
Give yourself permission to rest.
Take that much needed break.
Create that “Me Time”.
Has this article helped you in some way? Do you have anything you'd like to share? I’d love to hear below.
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