The British School of Meditation Blog


Real Rest

In a world where productivity and busy-ness is often worn as a badge of honour, getting enough real rest can fall down on our list of priorities. We live in a busy world, and we often have lots of different things to juggle all at once. 


If an athlete is training to run a marathon or take part in a sporting evening, rest days are prioritised as part of that schedule, because we understand the importance of resting our body and not pushing it to its limit. Although less acknowledged or discussed, the same is needed for our mind. But we often take our mind for granted and feel that we can push it to its limits, in working, doing, analysing, planning etc, without giving it the chance to rest.  


Taking ‘real rest’ is that time in which we are resting our mind, body and spirit. Real rest is deep and restorative, it is choosing to relax and recharge, rather than vegging out and scrolling social media, or spending that time relaxing beating ourselves up because we aren’t been productive. Real rest is more than relaxation or lying down, it is doing what we can to let our nervous system know that it is safe, that it too can relax. Taking real rest can involve acknowledging that ‘being’ is just as much an important aspect of our lives than ‘doing’. 


I recently read this beautiful quote by Alan Watts:


“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” 

If we could implement this understanding, that we don’t need to be rushing around and by simply being here right now there is purpose, real rest would feel much more manageable, I feel. 

For me, meditation is the practice of real rest, where I am giving my mind and body the space to just be. To simply notice what is arising in the moment, without resistance or force. Thich Nhat Hanh puts this beautifully, he likens practising meditation to a pebble falling into a river, sinking naturally without any effort. He says During our sitting meditation we can allow ourselves to rest like a pebble. We can allow ourselves to sink naturally without effort to the position of sitting, the position of resting”.

After all, taking real rest is productive in the long run, it is essential for creativity, for improved thought and bodily functions. It is important to help manage stress and to help us ‘be’ in the world with more ease. Taking real rest is similar to plugging your mobile phone on charge before the battery runs out, so that when we plug it in again it can work at optimal capacity. So the next time you beat yourself up for relaxing or taking time for you, you could perhaps remind yourself of this beautiful quote by Nicola Jane Hobbs,(‘The Relaxed Woman’ on Instagram) -  ‘Instead of asking ‘Have I worked hard enough to deserve a rest?’, I’ve started asking, ‘Have I rested enough to do my best, most meaningful work?’. Or, something I ask myself is “have I rested enough to be the most purposeful and helpful version of me?”.



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