A day off from work is a beautiful thing. This is our time. It’s our time to play, relax, reflect, meditate and rest. It’s our chance to regain balance. In my life coaching sessions, I have encountered clients who, again and again, have difficulty with fully relaxing on their days off. At first glance, this might seem preposterous. Why would it be difficult to relax? Shouldn’t it be easy to rest?
Well … no. In our fast-paced Western culture, we have not been trained in the art of relaxation. Instead, we have been trained to work, work, work, do, do, do. Our media gives us subtle (and not-so-subtle!) messages about how noble it is to stress out and overwork. It tells us how we must achieve and succeed in order to be a worthy member of society. It tells us that we must be constantly be thinking, planning and analyzing.
In recent years, the concept of “self-care” has become a buzzword. But, ironically, the fact that this seems like such a “new” concept is testament to how truly off-balance our culture has become. So many of us are glued to our phones. We are texting at red lights. We are surfing the web during meals. We are always connected, always “on.” Our calendars are full. Busyness has become a social norm.
But … is this the best way to live?
In my experience, the happiest, most deeply fulfilled people are the ones who know how to take a break. They know how to harness the deeply healing power of rest. They are able to give themselves the gift of a full recharge. They know the power of meditation, which leads to knowing how to rest deeply.
In my own life, when I began to make the transition toward prioritizing rest and meditation, a whole new world opened up. I began to heal a number of pervasive chronic illnesses. I began to value my own innate worthiness as a human being. No longer was I dependent upon notions of constant busyness or outward “success” as a benchmark of my own intrinsic value. No. Rather, I began to feel, truly feel, how I am perfect exactly the way I am.
I began to appreciate myself for simply being.
Diving into the sweet waters of rest is deeply transformative. It will change your life in innumerable ways. It will make you healthier and happier. It will help you to be a more generous and compassionate person.
Only once your own cup is overflowing, can you share with others.
Only once your own battery is fully recharged, can you help others plug in.
Indeed, rest is not optional. It is crucial for a balanced, socially-responsible, happy life.
In the remainder of this post, I will offer you three tips for ways you can deeply recharge on your days off. In truth, this list could have hundreds of points (I find this subject so fascinating!) … but, for now, just to get you started, we’ll begin with three. Please comment below if you’d like to see future posts on this topic, and I’d be happy to share more ideas with you.
How to rest deeply by entering a meditative state for the day
This does not mean that you need to sit for three hours in the lotus position or chant mantras all day. Rather, this is simply a mindset you can adopt. When you wake up in the morning on your day off, set a clear intention. Set the intention to view the entire day as a time of peaceful meditation. Remind yourself that this day is for you: for your personal upliftment, for your personal healing, for your personal growth. In the morning, remind yourself that you intend to be as present as possible throughout the day. As the day unfolds, continually return, again and again, back to the now moment. Move your body slowly, with tenderness and grace.
Notice the feeling of breath. And notice the sensory impressions:
- What does your food taste like?
- What are the smells wafting into your nose?
- What are the sounds from your window?
- How does this bath or shower feel upon your skin?
- How does the soft fur of your dog or cat feel on your fingers?
When you are in a meditative state, you are the observer. You are the witness. You notice, but you don’t judge as “good” or “bad.” You don’t analyze. You simply feel. You simply witness. You are not planning for the future or thinking about the past. You are here now.
Give yourself a rest from screens
Technology and social media are beautiful tools. They help us connect. They help us collaborate. However, technology and social media also have a shadow side. We can easily become addicted to our screens, to our social media. We can become unwittingly chained to them. Do you find yourself checking your email or Facebook messages multiple times throughout the day? Do you find yourself looking at your phone when you’re in line at the grocery store or bank? Too often, continual exposure to screens can create a feeling of restlessness and agitation.
Yet, it is possible to find balance. It is possible to harness the incredibly awesome power of screens, but also have harmony and peace in our lives. I invite you to try an experiment during your next day off. Flip off your phone, computers, and all communication gadgets. Unhook yourself from the demands of screen-communication. Free yourself. After you unhook, take your phone-less self to the park. Enjoy the movement of your legs and arms. Enjoy the sun on your face or the chill in the air. Enjoy the wildness of the birds, squirrels, deer, or whatever local animals are presenting themselves to you. Notice the flowers. Breathe deeply. Notice any sensations that come up within you. And then breathe deeply some more.
My dear sweet friends, we live in an overly-stressed, overly-stimulated culture. While our screens do help us to carry out vital professional and social functions in our day-to-day lives, they can also massively stress out our nervous system. In my own life, I take one day per week to rest from screens. I call this my “unplug day” or my “screen-free day.” Remember in the movie The Matrix when Keanu Reeves literally unplugged himself from the cords that were feeding on his life? This idea of taking a break from technology is a similar thing. When we have the courage to unplug ourselves from our communication devices, even for just a few hours, we are recharging our own internal energy systems. We are giving ourselves freedom, and allowing ourselves a deep rest.
Cook your meals at home
At first, this advice might seem counterintuitive. Isn’t cooking work? Well, that entirely depends upon how you view it. I agree with my Zen friends: cooking can be a wonderful form of meditation. Cooking is a very grounding, physical activity. We are very much in our bodies when we cook: chopping, stirring, smelling, tasting. We are of the Earth. We are here now, fully present. When we are cooking, it helps to release all notions of whether the final outcome will taste good or bad. (This is especially helpful advice if you are a novice cook!) Simply view the whole cooking experience as an adventure … mix a little of this, a little of that … browse a recipe or two online … ask someone you love to help out… etc. Just have fun! Play! If you can view your cooking experience as a living art form that you can eat, then the energy of relaxation and meditation will enter the molecules of the food. And … who knows? You just might surprise yourself. You just might you’ve fixed yourself an amazing meal.
Let’s learn how to rest deeply together
Dear friends, I could probably write a whole book on this topic—but for now, I hope these three tips are helpful for you. As always, if you’d like to hear more on this topic, please let me know!
For those of my readers who already know the joy of rest, I’d love to hear from you. What relaxation strategies do you enjoy on your days off? What self-care or meditation techniques work for you? How do you heal your body and mind? How do you regain balance?
Please comment below, so we can all learn together. Thanks!