“Go back and take care of yourself. Your body needs you, your feelings need you, your perceptions need you. Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it. Go home and be there for all these things.”
Thich Nhat Hahn
The last month of a very long and challenging year has finally arrived. Who would have ever thought that a year could be consumed with such ongoing difficulty from an invisible virus?
The effects have been felt worldwide and if I had to choose one word to sum up what many people are feeling, it would be exhaustion.
There is a level of fatigue that many of us have never encountered before. The uncertainty of how long the pandemic will last, coupled with the changes of how we live our lives, loss of jobs, health, and stability, takes its toll after awhile. Exhaustion is experienced on all levels of our being – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is a level of exhaustion that at some point you realize, you cannot just push through, as ignoring fatigue can ultimately lead to greater consequences.
If you look simply at the functionality of the human body as a system, understood is the importance and essentialness of rest. Without a reprieve, the body slowly loses it’s ability to find homeostasis – a state of equanimity or balance where the body can self regulate, heal, and grow. This is a simple understanding and yet quite profound. We seem to be the only specie on this planet that regularly ignores signs of fatigue. At a societal level, we are taught early in life to keep going no matter what. Rarely are we taught the value rest and what true rest actually looks like. Many of the things that we consider as “rest” are actually coping mechanisms built to helps us numb and avoid what we are feeling.
But feeling is how the body communicates to us. It is sending us messages all the time, but most of the time, we are not paying attention. Learning how to feel ourselves from the inside out and respond accordingly should be second nature.
Just look at all the other living beings – animals, plants, and trees. They don’t wait until winter arrives to adjust. They know when winter is coming and are in preparation well ahead of winter’s arrival. For if they waited until its arrival to adapt, most would not survive.
I’ve had the recent pleasure of reading a book that was recommended to me (and is the book in our Dec/Jan reading group) – Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May.
It is the perfect book at the perfect time. While the book thematically correlates examples of the winter season, as human beings, we can experience winter in our lives any time during the year. For me, it has been a profound illustration and reminder to rest, and rest deeply.
I know you are carrying a lot. We all have been carrying a lot, and the weight is quite heavy. My invitation to you, is to take notice of what you have been carrying and allow yourself to set it down. True rest requires an active and conscious participation – meaning that we have to first fully inhabit the body. Connecting to our physical body, we can bring awareness to where are needing support, awareness to where we need to recover and heal. We can consciously guide our body – part by part, breath by breath, to relax and rest. It is in the conscious awareness of rest, that we can return balance to our nervous system. The calming of our breath and body supports the mind to follow.
Please do not wait. Rest is needed now. We know we still have a long way to go with the pandemic and rest is critical to our own sustainability. At the bottom of this email, I have shared one of my favorite resting poses (there are many to choose from). Whether it is this pose, another favorite of yours, or savasana, I invite you to incorporate it into your life daily. What a blessing to make the choice of self care. For without YOU, nothing else matters.
From my family to yours, wishing you a safe, healthy, and easeful holiday season.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
This posture is a wonderful way to support relaxation and ease. All that is needed is a wall! Try these different leg variations to see what feels best and needed by your body. (Another variation of the pose can be done with the knees bent and the legs over a chair. It can also be practiced with a bolster or blanket underneath the pelvis).
Benefits of Legs Up the Wall Pose:
Regulates blood flow
Alleviates menstrual cramps
Relieves swollen ankles and varicose veins
Restores tired feet or legs
Stretches the back of the neck, front torso, and back of the legs
Improves problems of the eyes and ears
Relieves mild backache
Provides migraine and headache relief, especially when done with a bandage wrapped tightly around the forehead and back of the skull
Relieves symptoms of mild depression and insomnia