“Go to bed, Suzy,” he said.
It was not a command, but more like a kind instruction given to an impaired person in need of direction. My late husband would say this phrase to me at the end of a day when my fatigue and its accompanying grumpiness were obvious yet I was oblivious.
John was lived with cancer for many years, and he’d become an expert at paying attention to one’s body. He was one of many wise teachers, coaches, and doctors who have invited me to notice and attend to what my mind, body, and spirit need.
My list of passions is big. My list of interests even longer. An enthusiastic extrovert, my social calendar is filled with people I love. An appreciator of cinema and art, I hate to miss a great film when it’s in town or an opening reception for one of my many favorite local artists. Committed to social justice, there’s always a fundraiser to support. Writing, dancing, arranging flowers, throwing parties….How can I go to bed?
I once had a coach attempt to give me a new insight on rest and relaxation after I exclaimed, “I can’t just sit around doing nothing!” Her reply: “Susan. Relaxing is not ‘doing nothing.’ It’s relaxing.” Apparently relaxing was thing. I just didn’t know it.
When you fail to learn your coach’s lessons or practice what your teachers taught, eventually you might find a doctor giving you advice. One put it in writing for me:
Get 7-8 hours sleep each night.
Meditate 5 minutes each morning.
Throughout your work day, every two to three hours, do nothing for 5 minutes.
Like all medical advice, this was designed specifically for my condition—constantly doing. Being a slow learner, I find that getting sufficient rest each day and relaxing as a regular part of living life is still a lesson I’m learning. What my practice has given me, however, is a chance for reflection.
When I allow myself time for even the briefest meditation, I gain insight. When I journal or write, I can be joy-filled upon cutting my first pink rose of the season and a bit more self-compassionate for opening my mouth one time too many. When I share with a caring listener what is in my heart or on my mind, I often hear just the wisdom I need.
I’ve always been the student who never wanted to disappoint her teachers. When it comes to rest, relaxation, and reflection, I know I have. The ego of my achiever has won out time and time again. My only hope is to repeat what they have taught me. Since summer days are upon us, I especially intend to remember. Rest. Relax. Reflect. Repeat.
Are you in touch with how tired you might really be?
Can you give yourself permission to pause throughout your day?
What might it be like to feel rejuvenated?