Just before Christmas I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the anxious energy of the election aftermath and the holidays. I tried to participate in all the activities based on old habits--belief in the need to meet what I thought was expected of me, as well as “FOMO”--fear of missing out. The truth is, I kept pushing it and felt myself developing a respiratory ailment until the Monday before Christmas when I awoke feeling like I’d been hit by a MAC truck. Everything in my body said, “stop.” This time, I knew to listen. For three days I rested, I spoke to no one and didn’t leave my house. Even though I consciously knew better, as I got quiet, I was surprised to hear my own thoughts still pushing, judging, shaming me for my need to withdraw and rest.
One thing that generally helps me is tuning in to the natural world and the natural rhythm of life. I’d been through this before, but had forgotten for a time. The instinct to slow down, spend time in solitude and sleep more in the winter time is natural. This urge is not laziness or apathy, despite all the shoulds imposed by our social structures or our own beliefs. Hibernation is necessary. Dormancy does not mean death. For us humans, it means that much activity is taking place in the unseen depths of our innermost being, even though things appear to be at a standstill. Our thoughts, feelings and previous experiences become compost--rich soil from which to grow beautiful new fruit.
So, in December and much of January, I listened to my body and took the rest I needed and guess what? The world did not end because I paused! I avoided illness and felt renewed and replenished. I thoroughly enjoyed a sweet, low-key Christmas Day with my precious son, daughter-in-law and two-year-old granddaughter.
Resisting our need for rest creates more stress. When we attune our own lives to nature and its cycles, we can be more in harmony within ourselves and actually be more productive once we’ve recharged. Thus, when we go about our day, we give to our work, our family and friends from fullness and true generosity rather than from depletion. The ebb and flow are natural, just as the tides come in and go out and the flowers blossom and fade away. Inhale, exhale. Take action, rest. This is the flow of life.