Sunday Life: a *really* effective way to get rest (and heal)

This week I try Intentional Resting


There’s always been something about me that inspires a reflexive need in others – even complete strangers in Medicare queues – to tell me to relax. When you’re not a relaxed person, being told to “Hey, just relax” is like being a leopard and ordered to not have spots. And prompts a largely unrelaxed response. “I DON’T DO RELAXED!” I once yelled at a smug ‘lax pusher. “EXCITED, MOTIVATED, FOCUSED, YES! BUT RELAXED JUST ISN’T PART OF MY EMOTIONAL REPERTOIRE…OK!?”. (Apologies for the loud caps, BTW). I only just restrained myself from pointing out that their suggestion was akin to my telling them to “Hey, fire up and get interesting”.

But slowly, over the years, I’ve released the pressure valve. I was forced to after an adrenal collapse four years ago (although it took a while to get the full gist of the idea; my initial attempts involved climbing Machu Picchu and moving to New York).  In the past few months I’ve turned the decompression dial down even further. I’ve been learning to rest. Rest is a bit like relaxed, but even better.

We all need to learn to rest. We’re certainly all tired. Arianna Huffington argues tiredness is an epidemic and was responsible for the GFC. But sleep alone isn’t enough for maintaining even basic health argues Dr Matthew Edlund, author of The Power of Rest. We’ll get eight hours and still feel like we’re dragging our sorry bums through quicksand. We need to rest as a state of being. Because for most of us our default state of being is frenetic, toggling, never-ceasing activity. We force our way through roadblocks, control outcomes and resist the natural flow of things. So much resistance and… egghhness… is tiring to the core.

When things don’t work out, we force harder. I read that when things don’t work out for animals they curl up and rest. And perhaps try again in a bit.  Funnily, I read this just before heading off last week for a few days break in the Byron hinterland. It rained. And rained. I couldn’t surf. Or bushwalk. So I curled up and rested. Reading in a hammock is resting. A rare afternoon nap is resting. But since I had the time – and was completely, right-down-to-the-calluses-on-my-big-toe  buggered from the year that was – I sunk into the topic deeper to find the best way to really rest.

Which is how I came upon Intentional Resting, a technique developed by Dan Howard after years of trying to find a simple tool “even truck drivers can use”.

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