Without some form of rest, without slowing down, we go into survival mode, where everything we meet assumes prominence.
We must slow down and take time to savor this life. We can go fast sometimes, as long as we take the time regularly to.......pause.
The truth is, our work is never completely done. If we stopped only when we were finished, we would never stop. Taking a moment, an hour, or a day to rest liberates us from the compulsion to finish. It gives us a moment to reflect, to really think about a problem or emotional issue, and re-energize.
Without some form of rest, without slowing down, we go into survival mode, where everything we meet assumes prominence. When we move faster and faster, every detail inflates in its importance. Everything seems more urgent than it really is. Often we react in a sloppy way, sometimes with desperation, which leads to anger, anxiety, or depression.
There is deep emotional wisdom in the traditional Jewish Sabbath, which begins exactly at sundown every Friday night. "Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop," says author Wayne Muller in his book Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest. "We do not stop when we are finished. We do not stop when we complete our phone calls, finish our project, get through this stack of messages, or get out this report tomorrow. We stop because it is time to stop." Sabbath says: Stop now.
"Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets," says Tim Kreider of the New York Times. "The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done."
If you stop and rest, you give yourself the opportunity to check in with yourself. Stopping may be your meditation for the day. Notice the difference between stopping and letting yourself continue to be busy. If you keep jumping around, it's hard to find any kind of harmony within.
Surrender to rest. Turn your mind gently inward and allow the tensions to leave. Then you can hear what is most deeply true. This is pratyahara, choosing freely to accept or leave the external situation and direct your attention inside. It is as the psalm says, "Be still, and know."
Take an evening, light a candle, or just sit quietly in your living room, and appreciate the beauty around you. Reflect on your day, your week. Remind yourself that your presence has really mattered and you have touched people. Listen to the silence and enter into what feels like a subtler dimension, where you feel connected and calm.
The time of rest has come. Let your mind rest gently in your heart.
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