The Art of Resting

By Maureen Look-Ainsworth — He went to a sunny island in the Pacific where he could find endless, long days of happiness, coupled with the sunshine that brought joy to the soul. There he would stay at the beach, sand between his toes, happy to sit in a comfortable lounge chaise on which to sit and a mystery thriller to read.

He has gone to rest on the island….Hmmm. what does that conjure up in your mind?

He has gone to take a rest. Had you said this to me in my college years, I would have thought you were talking about someone who had died. Rest? I thought that meant taking 18 credits and running a marathon and that was taking it easy.

Obviously I was really “special” in my thoughts about how to take it easy and rest. As I have gone through my career, I have often found that careers and climbing the corporate ladder seemingly have taken precedence over listening to our bodies or calming our minds, relaxing the soul and enjoying people around us.

Rest is not something we talk about often in the Western world. We talk about getting ahead, finishing projects, completing research papers and the like. Many of us have completed a final exam, we rush to the apartment or dorm room to clean up and get ready to head home for Christmas and for the New Year. Dirty laundry in bags (hopefully not waiting for someone at home to clean!), books returned to the library, gas in the car, cash for the trip home, we rush around like little mice on a mouse wheel, turning and turning, so quickly that it insidiously takes over our life, hidden behind the veil of good intentions.

We hurry from one subject to another, from one person to another without giving thought to give our body and mind time to rest. Sometimes we might even take some time out for exercise but even that is beyond our ability to really do what is needed. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is excellent for our health but jumping into it and “getting it done” isn’t the intended purpose. Enjoy the exercise, enjoy the struggle of finishing the workout with intensity and the feeling that you’ve accomplished something genuinely needed by your body and mind. Without exercise to the mind and heart, we would be lost souls grasping for any bit of advice, any wisdom that would carelessly come out way.

How often we trample over another’s thoughts, we are careless to discharge the subtle wisdom of those around us, especially those who are senior to us. Grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles often have already experienced the rhythms of life, with children, finances, and stressful jobs. But in their company, we disregard the very useful advice that is free to utilize to gain insight into the acumen of life’s experiences. How often do we have an answer before even hearing the other person’s thoughts before we interrupt and answer without regard to the latter part of their ideas.

This holiday, enjoy the wisdom of your elders, stop and listen with your heart, you might just find some astute knowledge which you so long for.  Have a restful and relaxing Christmas and a wonderful New Year!


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