The greatest medicine we can give ourselves...
Want to know the greatest way to transform and grow?
The most powerful way to heal? The simplest way to connect back to our energy and creativity? The most incredible way to support ourselves in this life adventure?
I will give you some clues... it is not something that we have to pay for, it isn't something that anyone else does for us... and it is probably one of the hardest things for many of us to do.
The greatest medicine that we can give ourselves is rest.
Well... not for me it hasn't been. Slowing down and resting is probably the hardest lesson I am still learning.
I woke up this morning at around 6am and felt exhausted. I am on day one of my menstrual cycle and my body felt heavy. Instantly my mind started saying to me... if you get up now you can get all of these things done before you start work, you can get the early risers with a post on Instagram, you could walk the dog, do a yoga practice, meditate and still be at your desk to write this blog before 8am.
And for a moment I was going to get up... but I placed my hands on my womb space and I asked myself... what do I need? The answer was loud and clear... you need sleep Lauren. You need more rest. And after a flicker of turmoil, I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep until 8am.
For me, that is a HUGE achievement and it felt like a beautiful gift to myself. BUT, there are also still many resistances to this.
Guilt - that other people are up and working already (my husband leaves the house at 6.15am) and therefore so should I.
Shame - that I am being lazy and that people will think I don't work hard enough. Actually scrap what other people think, the biggest problem here is that I don't think I am working hard enough.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) - that I might lose an important connection or a time window on social media to express my message (and everyone knows social media is the most important thing in the world now, right?!?!!!!)
Frustration - that I might not be moving forwards with my hopes and dreams as quickly as I could do.
Anxiety - that if I don't start my day earlier then I won't get as much of my 'to do' list done.
Self worth - if I don't have a fully 'productive' day (what does that even mean?!) then I don't feel like I am fulfilling my needs to achieve - and therefore I am not 'good enough' as a human being!!
And this is just the start of it.
But I have to say - over the past 6 - 12 months this conditioning has been starting to shift. I have been beginning to unravel some of these unhealthy mindset patterns that lead me to think that needing to rest is a weakness.
The more I have learned about our natural cycles as women, the more I can see the benefits of honouring our energy levels and taking action based on where we are at. If you have a menstrual cycle then the time of the bleed is the equivalent to winter - it is a time to retreat and restore yourself in preparation for the coming spring. It is the time of release and rest - however many of us have been told to 'push through' and pretend like we don't even have periods.
Even if you are not menstruating currently, then there will still be a rise and fall of your energy levels and you can track this beautifully in correlation to the moon phases and mother earth through the seasons. Ezzie Spencer has some wonderful resources you can check out here if you would like to learn more about how to work with the moon.
And not forgetting our male counterparts. For men, resting is just as important! Of course our hormonal needs are different, however from an emotional and physical point of view the body still needs time to restore and replenish itself.
Nobody is immune from needing rest!
When I did my meditation teacher training last year I got the chance to study lots of research about the way meditation impacts the brain waves and activates the relaxation response - and when we are in this state our body can heal and repair itself. (It is pretty magical like that!) The problem is, for many of us we are constantly in a fight or flight state which keeps our body on high alert. When this becomes our natural state of being - we don't even notice how fatigued we are and so we continue on regardless.
This is why, so often, when you go away on holiday and start to relax, we often have a complete crash in energy and our immune system takes a battering because our body finally realises it is safe to stop 'running' and needs to heal itself.
We cannot sustain our health and wellbeing without rest.
Let me reinforce that message. We CANNOT maintain good health, energy, productivity and joyful living, without giving ourselves the chance to slow down and fill back up.
We are doing ourselves a disservice by not allowing rest in to our daily routines. And you may well believe that there is not time for rest, that it isn't possible to incorporate it in to your days. And I am sorry if you don't like hearing this... but if you want to thrive in your life - thrive as a parent, in your business, as a friend, as a spouse... it is impossible to do this fully and with total presence without periods of rest and paying close attention to your energy levels.
At some point, if you don't listen, your body will scream at you - and it won't be pretty!
I can assure you - I have been there repeatedly, time and time again as I learn just how important this practice is.
You may think you don't need it right now, but it will catch up on you. And I only say these words with such assertiveness from a place of compassion - it is essential to our wellbeing both physically to let the body and cells repair, and to our emotional and mental health.
Become a master of pro-active rest instead of reactive rest. Consider the battery that drains completely, goes completely flat and then needs so much longer to fully recharge. When you top that same battery up regularly it doesn't fully empty and it keeps working. Don't wait until you are forced to rest through depletion before you gift yourself rest.
While it is hugely beneficial to give yourself at least 15 minutes to rest, if that feels unachievable, try three (or more) short periods of five minutes each day. Sit or lie down (ideally) in a way that fully supports the body and close your eyes, focus on the breath and imagine your bones becoming heavier as you let go of the need to 'hold on'. Imagine this time topping up your energetic battery.
Ask yourself right now.... what do you need?
The first time you ask you will probably be met with a to do list of things you 'should' need to do.
Ask again... What do you need?
This time round you may be a little more honest with yourself and perhaps admit that some of the things in the first list are not really conducive to your energy levels right now.
And one last time... What do you need?
A simple word perhaps? A stripped back answer maybe?
If the answer is in any way related to needing to rest, slow down or input more energy... then I dare you to rise to the challenge of learning the greatest skill on earth, and practising it daily.