Last week, we put up a hammock under our river birch tree, and it’s amazing! Just having it out there, where I can see it when I walk by the living room window or out the front door reminds me to stop.
Since we put it up, I have taken breaks in it at least twice a day—sometimes only for a few minutes, but even that amount is restorative for my bodysoul.
Lying under the tree, looking at the leaves, breathing, feeling my body sink into the support of the hammock beneath me, letting myself drop down and in. This is harder for me to do when I’m inside or even sitting in my gardens, where I see everything that needs to be done….
Did you know that adequate rest is just as important as healthy eating or exercising or even spiritual practice? We can’t live our best lives, our most enjoyable and nourishing lives, if we don’t slow down. Let me say that one more time—I know I need to keep hearing it! We can’t live our best lives, our most enjoyable and nourishing lives, if we don’t slow down.
The health benefits of adequate rest include improved memory, calmer nervous system, lowered risk of heart attack, and overall less stress. Rest also helps us be more present in our lives so that we are available for our loved ones, for moments of beauty and joy, and for ourselves.
If you don’t have a hammock, consider taking 5-minute “Do Nothing” Breaks. I created this little practice for myself when I was trying to learn to take breaks a few years ago. Just stop, sit down, set your timer for 5 minutes, and do nothing! What does “do nothing” look like? Breathe, sense your body, look out a window, sink into the support of whatever you are resting on. When thoughts arise, notice them and come back to your body and breath, to the view, to the sounds, to the support…. If you need to, write a reminder down, but then drop it—you can come back to it later. See if you can practice this a few times a day and see how it feels. More details here.
I have found that truly resting, even if it’s in short 5-minute increments helps me to feel happier, healthier, and more present in my life in general.
What would it take for you to learn to really, consciously rest? For me, it took getting a diagnosis of pre-cervical cancer (now resolved), but that’s another story! I hope it doesn’t have to be as drastic for you!