Take a look at your day. How much of it was spent working, driving, talking, planning, and doing? How many moments were you free to look at the clouds, deeply enjoy the many flavors of your meal, or staring out of the window and smile at the kids playing down the street?
Chances are, those moments of rest are rare. In our busy world, all of our time is accounted for and we don’t get a chance to spend time observing our surroundings and quieting the mind. This isn’t a scientific article about sleep, but rather rest — the art of not doing. Even ten minutes of looking at or being in nature is a vacation for these vital organs. The rest of your mind and body will notice a difference as well.
Resting is recharging. Without recharging, you can’t “do”. It may help to think about how the less you “do” in one moment, you’ll be able to “do” more in other moments. If you start the day with your battery low, you end up burning out. This is when we reach for the cup of coffee, chocolate bar, or even drinking at the end of the night, in order to prolong our energy reserves. This lifestyle of constant stimulation has well-documented negative consequences that can lead to harming our adrenal glands and thyroid, among other body systems.
In Ayurveda, we digest what we see. When we see beautiful nature, our body is intrinsically calmed. Our brain and adrenals are quieted; these are the organs that need breaks from busy lives. When we watch scary or violent movies, we absorb those images as well. Our cortisol levels remain high which taxes and stress out our adrenals among other organs as we go into fight or flight. Yoga poses to promote rest in the body and mind include a type of yoga called Restorative Yoga. You can youtube Restorative Yoga or I recommend Judith Lasater’s book called “Relax and Renew”. Chiropractic adjustments that help include lower thoracic 11 and 12. If the neck is subluxated, this can cause the body to not adapt well to stress making the adrenal glands’ job more difficult and taxing so adjusting the upper cervical is important as well.
It can be a difficult lifestyle change to carve out time for rest in your day. Here are a few tips that have helped me develop this habit.
-At lunch, do not be on your computer. Sit there in silence and eat your lunch and try focusing on the flavors, textures, and other observations that may arise. Spend 15-20 minutes sitting and observing your surroundings — this actually helps digestion. A very leisurely stroll in silence is also a helpful practice.
-When you come home from work and have kids or roommates, spend 10-15 minutes in your car before going inside your home. Listen to calm music, read something simple, but try to avoid your phone. Now is also a good time to take a stroll before entering your home.
-Take very deep breaths; be aware of your breathing. Count 4 seconds inhaling, 6 seconds exhaling. Write reminder post-its to breathe and stick them to your desk, computer, bathroom walls, fridge, etc.
-Set up a cozy space in your home, either pillows on the ground or a comfortable couch area. Leave something simple to read — not on a computer screen or phone — to enjoy. For example, a book of poetry like Rumi or Hafiz. If you have a place that is inviting to you, you’ll be more likely to spend time in it.
-Take power naps! Close your eyes in a dark room for even 15 minutes.
-Look up yoga nidra on youtube, a tool for meditative relaxation.
As you sit under a tree or stare out a window, and someone asks you what you’re doing — just say it is doctor prescribed.