I usually tell a client story here, but this time I’m going to write about a friend whom I shall call Nancy. She’s someone I’ve known for many years, and we stay in touch from time to time. She often calls me when she’s in distress.
Recently Nancy became an empty nester, and she was having a hard time with it. A single parent, she was used to going from early in the morning to late at night, exercising, taking care of her kids, working, and at the end of the day taking care of the house, the kids, dinner and so on until she fell into bed exhausted and started all over again the next day.
At first she was excited about having her last child leave home and the free time it would give her. She began filling her schedule with more activities that interested her, and upped her work schedule a bit. But she found herself feeling antsy all the time, so she called me.
As Nancy talked about her life, I listened for the feeling behind her words. It was the feeling of someone who was always in motion – kind of an anxious feeling. An image came to me of a bird that is always flying with nowhere to land. That was what life was like for my friend Nancy – she was always in motion mentally because she didn’t know where to land, within herself, when she stopped. “I don’t know what to do with myself,” she said at one point in the conversation. But obviously if anything she was doing too much. She just didn’t know how to let her mind rest when she wasn’t using it to accomplish or experience something.
Everything in nature has a rhythm of activity and rest, activity and rest, the way animals run and then stop, or the way the foliage grows in Spring and then stops momentarily, in this month of August, before Fall begins. We are part of nature. Our minds are meant to be active and then rest – if you watch children, you’ll see that rhythm at work – intense activity and then resting periods. It’s when we learn to ignore our inner signals and skip that inner prompt that nudges us to let our minds rest periodically that we lose our natural capacity for mental rest.
As people who have been introduced to these principles know, our minds rest themselves naturally when we allow them to. Many people choose activities where they experience mental rest, such as yoga, working out, or meditation, without realizing that they are asking, or allowing, their minds to rest during these times – it doesn’t come from the activity. When you stop actively churning up thought, thought drops. Being attuned to the feelings that we live in, and realizing that they are coming from your thinking in the moment, makes people more attuned to when its time for mental rest.
Mental rest is such a gift. I am so grateful to have many moments throughout the day when thought drops and I feel myself coming back into the present, getting nourished and touched by life. I’m also really grateful that I get to make that available to my clients. It’s during those times that we can tap more deeply into our inner world, a world full of feeling, insight and love. May you have many moments of mental rest. and the joy of dipping in to the eternal present as you go throughout your day.
With love, Annika