Radical-ness of Rest

It’s Monday before Thanksgiving … & our boy Baxter is back on forced rest. Poor guy seems to have pinched a nerve again …

Thanks to Alpha Vet Clinic for providing meds to mitigate his pain until we can get him in to see the vet.

This turn of events has also forced me into rest today … because if I move, he moves … my beloved Shadow doesn’t like me out of his sight.

Rest is good medicine (not to discount the immediate effect of his painkillers).

Most of us — around the GLOBE — are in another (or continuing) period of local or national limitation of activity due to the rampant spread of COVID-19. We’re being … “forced” … “invited” … “highly encouraged” … “pushed to” … ??? … change how much and what we do in the world.

How are you feeling about all this? What sensations do you feel in your body when thinking about all of this? How is your breath affected when you think about all of this? Does your mind become quicker, slower, distracted, dull, disturbed, one-pointed, clear … or something else?

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One of our community yogis, Lisa, shared this post on her Facebook page, which made me think of my own travels this year:

I used to travel a lot more & take up residence somewhere new almost yearly. It’s been a new thing to be in one place for almost 7 years. I’m grateful Jim, the dogs & I have a safe place to quarantine — a home that provides space for us to work remotely, find some solitude, & come together & enjoy our downtime. We are also near a walking path that allows us to get exercise while maintaining safe distance, & live in a small town where crowds are rare & easily avoidable.

I’m not real excited about the travels through our home that remind me of the constant onslaught of furball tumbleweeds, unfolded laundry, & unfinished projects. The folks out there manifesting their clean, clutter-free home & getting all the things accomplished … good for you. We all have our gifts.

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Anyway, the radical-ness of rest. Baxter & Tortilla are guru teachers of balancing rest & activity. When it’s time for a walk — they’re all in. When it’s naptime — they’re all in. They’re not thinking, “Oh, I really need to be planning my next barkfest at the postal carrier this afternoon,” or “Tomorrow I’ve got that peanut butter jar project.” They simply rest when it’s time.

I realize I won’t get to their level of mastery of rest. It’s just not in my DNA. Yet I admire their ability, & seek to emulate their ways on a regular basis.

Especially now, with the pandemic raging worldwide, people’s emotions flaring, the very real stressful circumstances so many of us find ourselves in, the holidays well underway … & our society marching to the cry “keep going! don’t stop! push forward no matter what! get back to normal! and quickly!”

If we feel like we can’t stop … & I use “we” purposefully … If we feel like we can’t stop … If we feel like we can’t rest … The question may be: Why? … And further: Who says?

I was listening to an interview with Wendell Berry recently … if you need a moment to slow down, just listen to his measured, in-no-hurry voice … & at one point he heralded the unmatched intelligence of humans … at a certain speed. He was speaking of agriculture specifically, that the human working at the speed of the draft animal or the hand tool is unmatched. & yet we have arrogantly extrapolated that our intelligence can keep up in the realm of tractors, factory farming, mass monoculture. In speaking of general society, Berry stated our hubris wrongly makes us believe that our human intelligence can keep up as we text & drive 75 miles per hour.

His thoughts made me laugh at myself, my own arrogance as I speed through life … & also take pause.

Winter is coming (cue the music) … & in Ayurveda this is a season to gather one’s resources, go inward, & slow down. To nourish, rest, hibernate. To reflect, to tell stories, to give thanks.

Ayurveda states that if we take our cues from the happenings & the speed of Nature, we will find balance, health & ease. Maybe that balance is realized in just one area of life, yet the benefits are noticeable nonetheless. For example, when I change up my food choices from raw, cool, crunchy fruits & veggies (typical of spring/summer) to warm, nourishing soups & stews meant for winter — I feel nourished & warm myself!

Likewise, the shorter days of winter invite us to radical rest … in spite of the ability to flip a switch to prolong the light & the “go go go” / keep doing mentality.

What does “radical rest” look like to you? If you have practices that you are looking forward to this winter, what are they? If not, is there a practice you’ve been thinking about?

If you’ve been wanting to start a meditation practice, the coming months could be the perfect time. The quieter attributes of the winter season are conducive to the contemplative practices. Just one minute of mindful breathing — sama vritti or “equal wave breath,” for example — & you’re on your way!

This season, I’m exploring contemplative creative practice — my friend, Jill Ross, a wonderful mosaic artist, invited me into a virtual retreat offered by Abbey of the Arts called “Sacred Rhythms of Sky, Sun, Sea & Stone.” Each day we work with a different element & a different form of creative expression. I enjoy learning from different spiritual traditions & practices, & this one spoke to me because of the Nature focus & creative practices offered. (If you’re interested & sign up, let me know so we can invite you to our private Facebook group.)

I see it’s getting dark … 5:30pm here in SW PA … time to heat up some soup & settle in with a cozy blanket & a good book. Here’s to our radical rest, friends.

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(P.S. We cannot bypass the obvious & subtle ways COVID-19 affects our nervous systems. Yes, rest. Yet also cultivate awareness of your reactions to stress, & get help when you need it. We need each other now more than ever.)

We must continue to direct ourselves toward fact-based health organizations. Please see PA Dept of Health, Centers for Disease Control & the World Health Organization for the latest, research-based public health information.

Published by ericaengel42

I teach & practice Hatha Yoga for a simple reason -- it works. Hatha Yoga in the Himalayan Tradition is a holistic system of philosophy & practices passed down through an unbroken lineage of Himalayan sages. What Hatha Yoga is not: trendy, bendy or one-&-done. What Hatha Yoga is: a systematic approach to uncovering the real, authentic YOU in body, mind & spirit. Hatha Yoga cultivates well-being, stability, clarity & ease in modern life through traditional, time-tested practices. I look forward to connecting with you!

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