The other day I overheard someone talking on her phone. She said, “I’m not doing anything – I’m just resting”. It reminded me of how easy it is to undervalue the importance of taking time out to rest.
In our fast-paced, hectic lives we can easily get caught in what I call ‘Busy Doing’. Busy Doing is when we are so busy ‘doing’ we have actually lost track of what, why and how we are ‘doing’.
The extreme form of this is when we are so caught in the grip of action that we have lost a sense of the original purpose. Perhaps circumstances have changed and the action is no longer necessary or something needs adjusting however we are so focused on achievement of the goal, we don’t see that.
We don’t pay attention to where we are and the impact on those around us – we lose a sense of connection to our environment. Perhaps the conditions have changed but we don’t take that into account and adapt accordingly.
We even lose the connectedness to our own body and the feelings it is giving us. Perhaps we need to take a break but we don’t detect that subtler feeling.
In this state, we soldier on regardless of whether it still feels right or whether it still feels like the most relevant and important thing to be engaging in. As long as it gets ticked off the checklist – that’s all that matters. At the end of it all we often feel frazzled and exhausted.
Compare this to what I call ‘Right Doing’. When we are engaged in Right Doing we are completely in tune with the present – fully able to meet the needs of the situation as they change from one moment to the next. As the context changes we find ourselves adapting, smoothly and without hesitation. We might be exerting a lot of effort however it is not a strain. Rather, there is a frictionless flow to our actions and it all feels easy. We are not second guessing ourselves and overthinking – the mind is calm and clear. We see the job and we do the job. You will know when you are engaged in Right Doing because you will feel energised and you will enjoy what you are doing. Time tends to feel as if it is passing quickly when we are in this space.
One of the keys to breaking out of the grip of Busy Doing and achieving a regular state of Right Doing is to be well rested. Rest is the basis of all our activity.
In this way, resting is not “doing nothing”. Resting is also a form of doing – it is simply Less Busy Doing!
When we are resting we are less active and yet we are not doing nothing. Resting is very important (and much neglected) preparation for more dynamic activity.
Here are some of the main reasons why resting is so necessary:
– when we settle down we allow for normalisation and rebalancing to occur in the brain and physiology – for example there are thousands of vital repair and purification functions going on every time you fall asleep at night
– stresses can be dissolved only when we rest – without adequate downtime they will become obstructions, getting in the way of our natural performance capabilities
– when a state of restfulness accumulates in our system we build up a reservoir of energy to draw down upon when the demands are more intense – this slows down the aging process and makes us healthier
– by quieting down the mind and body we are able to more easily detect what is happening in the environment around us – we are alert to the signals that nature is sending our way
– when we are rested all the senses of perception are clear and alert – more refined perception means we can detect more subtlety and thus make better decisions
– we can tune in to the needs of our body when we are rested – do I really feel like that piece of chocolate cake or am I so wound up and tired I’m not even asking the question?
There are many different ways to take time out – sleeping, sitting quietly, cloud watching, being in the midst of nature, breathing techniques, yoga, massage, energy work, acupuncture… and of course, my favourite, meditation.
In Vedic Meditation we get to a state of Less Busy Doing very quickly. There is decades of research to demonstrate how effectively and efficiently we can rest when we know how to transcend activity.
I was talking about this today with Ali – a fellow meditator and friend. Ali has tried so many different types of meditation and yoga and has gained a level of proficiency and understanding in all of them that is quite impressive. And yet when it comes to delivering rest, he says Vedic Meditation is unique. In his words, “the other meditations deliver all sorts of things but none gives the rest like Vedic Meditation”.