My false beliefs around Rest formed when I was very young. At our Grade 1 graduation ceremony (in South Africa), I was the only child who didn’t receive a certificate. Everyone received some sort of award, whether academically or with 100% attendance. I had taken a day off to visit my grandfather, who was dying of leukemia. The loss was profound and was the start of a spiritual journey. But I also had this human side of wanting to fit in. Being the only kid who didn’t receive a certificate made me strive for 100% attendance in the following years.
It shaped me to push through grief and sickness in school and work.
There was also the tough South African way of life, “pull up your socks” and push through (especially since I was raised by a single mom who worked hard to feed us). I remember if I wanted to rest, I was told to do chores, had to study, work, or something.
To this day, I need to finish something before I allow myself to relax. Perhaps, you experience the same thing? We find ourselves having more and more things to complete, and rest is last on the list.
When I saw other people needing time to heal or grieve, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t push through. It wasn’t a lack of empathy, as I felt deeply for what they were experiencing. It was a toughness that was encouraged and cultivated growing up – a projection of my normalcy (beliefs) onto the world.
A pivotal moment came when I saw my ex-partner struggling to focus on work while grieving. Before that, I had seen a partner have little to no emotion to struggle. Another pivotal moment was when I couldn’t get out of bed when I closed my yoga studio after 10 years. The collapse of a place and community I gave all I had, was gone, and I was left ‘empty’.
We see how society encourages achieving. In a work contract, we are given a set number of days to grieve if a family member dies and a set number of sick days. How can we put a ‘number of days’ around this? Our society and businesses are shaped around productivity and less around being heart-centred (individually and community-based). We are not shown how to support those grieving.
In Yoga, we learn that anything we experience creates a subtle impression in our mind (Yoga Sutra 1:11). Samskaras are grooves in the mind. When they are very deep, we call them Vasanas. Depending on how deep they are and where we are in our awakening, we may play out these patterns without knowing they are impressions of the mind. These may be detrimental to ourselves and those around us. These impressions shape our thoughts, behaviours, and therefore our personality and the course of our life. Imagine a society, workplace, the people we hang out with, and our family lineage (generational trauma) shaping these impressions of the mind.
The mind will always flow, but we want it to flow peacefully… to a restful space where our true nature is illuminated (beyond these impressions).
My working hard, even through grief and sickness, was/is an impression (I’m still practicing daily new patterns to outweigh the old ones).
Rest is a beautiful companion – it does not mean you are lazy.
When I started teaching about 15 years ago, I was teaching Restorative Yoga at a Hospice. The day I couldn’t get out of bed (after my studio closed) was when my relationship with REST deepened. I was held ever more deeply in Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra. It also offered wisdom into the unknown (especially in death).
Resting is a pilgrimage of dissolving identity to be fully received.
Sharing this beautiful practice, Restorative Yoga, with others is a gift.
In my Restorative Yoga Teacher Training, we learn about the yogic texts that lend themselves to why rest is essential (like the one I shared above). We learn how to recalibrate the nervous system and why rest is vital to healing the body (stress can lead to many dysfunctions and even disease). We experience the use of touch and sound in aiding in relaxation. And most importantly, you build a deeper relationship with rest and share this wisdom with others.
Making Stillness the Most Sacred… through Ritual & Rest.