Prof. Sindor Aloyarc
It isn’t always easy to take breaks from things. Sure, there’s stuff we want to get away from in life, whether it’s some required task, or the endless chores and errands that seem to pile up. Even then, whether these things are enjoyable to some degree or not, it can be a struggle to set aside some time for rest.
With the constant, changing expectations on top of immediate gratification that comes with high-tech gadgetry coupled with a seemingly endless content list of choices and stimuli, it’s no wonder that pushing the reset button can be difficult. Even (perhaps subliminally) seen as a weakness.
At the risk of disappointing others or appearing lazy, we can find every excuse in the book to justify burning the candle from both ends. But as Alice says in Wonderland: “I give myself very good advice, and very seldom follow it.”
Think about holding your breath. At some point it becomes uncomfortable! In these instances our bodies are actually asking to expel the buildup of carbon dioxide rather than simply gasping for more oxygen. While I wouldn’t personally recommend holding your breath all the time, on the flip side many of us wind up taking too many shallow breaths every minute. Maintaining a state of low grade hyperventilation, thus upsetting the balance between oxygen and C02.
Makes the feelings of tension and anxiety all that much more understandable.
It’s important to find a system that’s beneficial to the individual when it comes to things like breathing, or exertion versus rest. To always be active becomes exhausting and leads to injury. To always be at ease becomes boring and leads to atrophy. In either case, there’s an element of “healing” that must take place in order to reset back to center.
It’s the same when practicing mindfulness through meditation. Whether what we’re becoming consumed by in our thoughts could be seen as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ if it’s taking the attention away from our intended focus in this present moment, then we must “heal” our way back to that point of contact. To counting, or the breath, or a flickering flame.
Healing isn’t always a sign of problems. We force our muscles into what one might call “damaging” situations so that each time they rebuild we become stronger in those areas. This applies just as much mentally and emotionally. Incorporating an appropriate amount of stress in any area of our lives can help us grow. The trick is recognizing when to push, or if it’s time to pull back. Luckily, the body tends to give us little signals which help guide us in the right direction!
One thing we can do, beyond prioritizing quality sleep, nutrition, movement, and hydration (all of which assist the body in running along smoothly) is make sure we’re taking the time for things that put our mind-body connection into a state of active rest.
What do I mean by “Active” rest?
Something you probably will find it easy to relate to is the difference in reading a book versus watching a movie. In front of the screen, you certainly do become relaxed. However you’re also in a fairly passive state of conscious awareness where information is essentially being projected into your brain. While it often draws out many levels of responsiveness, whether mental or emotional, it certainly asks very little in the realm of imagination of the person who may just be looking to “check out” or be entertained.
Conversely, reading a book takes engagement from the person who seeks the undertaking of a journey. This adventurer must not only have a means of perceiving the information being conveyed through some form of taking in the words of a given story, but is forced to then create a picture inside themselves of what that information means rather than being presented with someone else’s interpretation.
While things are absolutely described in books, arguably moreso than film, it would be equally fair to say that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, making the amount of data conveyed through video nothing to sneer at either.
The difference being that the state of mind you must put yourself into when actively reading a book is quite entirely separate from the state of mind you take on when passively watching a movie.
Yes, we tend to lose ourselves quite easily in either of these modes, however it’s no wonder why people view screens as a gateway to mind control. Whether we like it or not, anytime we fall into the hypnotic state which comes from watching video(s) for extended periods, in one way or another we’re putting the control of our mind into the possession of something other than ourselves. Even if only for short periods.
It isn’t my intention to demonize utilizing technology, or being mindful of screentime in general whether on the computer, a cell phone, or watching a favorite television series. Just like anything else, these things have their place. What is important for me to highlight here is that this same state which accompanies an activity like reading is very close to the state of active rest one can induce when performing tasks like painting or gardening. Particularly that these kinds of hobbies take on that added layer of providing a level of creation to the relationship. You’re not just imagining someone else’s story, you’re doing/making something. You’ve become the architect and builder of your own little world.
How easy it is to view life in terms of sleep and wakefulness. Activity and rest. But things are rarely so black and white, which is part of the beauty of being here. Getting to take on all these shapes and experiences is a miracle. In our most uncertain of times we have so much power to work with whatever’s clattering around in our toolbox.
We can be quick to underestimate the importance of active rest, but to put ourselves into a state of relaxation that hasn’t crossed the line toward overly receptive or even asleep is so important. We often spend so much time rushing from one thing to another that whenever we can stop to do something which requires minimal energy, but keeps our focus engaged can be more of a reset than sleeping for days on end, because it’s feeding us in ways we don’t always take the time for.
To nourish restfulness while awake is equally as important as nourishing restfulness while asleep. There’s nothing like a good reset to bring things back into balance!
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