Rest is a Portal

There’s no aspect of a cycle that doesn’t require a time of apparent dormancy. And yet that dormancy is often an illusion; it’s no so much that there is no movement or change as it is an unseen process. Eurocentric or “western” culture doesn’t value the unseen process very highly. The capitalistic culture doesn’t even believe in the value of that which cannot be measured. When we want to notice the process inside, the subtleness of our “going on being,” we often begin by closing our eyes. And when we do that we shift our focus away from moving our bodies physically in space and seeing in the external sense.

Resting creates the necessary slowing down to create deeper shifts from a safe location. And frankly we don’t always exit a portal feeling great.  Sometimes rest only highlights what needs to change, or ways that we need more of something.

What can appear inactive to others might be full of life and growth internally, and conversely what may appear active in the eyes of others may feel quite slow to the subject. The later is often my experience as we approach the turning of the year. On the outside I feel quite active, I’m often dreaming and planning for the next year, taking stock or what has changed already and what needs to change. Reflecting and integrating, putting out new offerings and calling in greater connection. But internally I am slow. Witnessing without changing (yet), surveying the landscape and settling into unknown and void spaces, asking questions and not finding as many answers.
It has been a delight for me to see so many people en mass start to seriously challenge whether to seek all their satisfaction from work. To consider that maybe there’s something more, that while in practice we may be in harm reduction mode in our relationship with money we can still dream of a life more full and connected.

In the era of “if millennials would just stop buying avocado toast they could own a house” it was surprising for me to discover this past summer how much lacking enough time translates directly to spending money and overall attachment to material things. And how that actually manifests across income (understanding of course that when in more dire straits our choices become more limited). This isn’t about blaming yourself for financial difficulty and fatigue, it’s about acknowledging that there is a vicious cycle between need, want, and urgency. Time is of great value, time is related to rest, and when we don’t have enough time we seek quick solutions to feeling connected and cared for. There were some beautiful and synchronistically aligned thought pieces this year that clearly show this is not just a personal shift but a collective one. But it actually took a while of having enough time for some of my own habits to change.

This summer I enacted a radical seasonal change that I had tried unsuccessfully to implement for three years in a row. The dream was simple: I wanted to make it to a city beach at least once a week for the entire summer and swim in the ocean for at least 30 minutes without having to get up before 8am (I work late folks, don’t judge me!). The thing about natural environments is that they run on their own schedule. Not every day is suitable for swimming in the ocean comfortably, and so you need to have multiple days available. It’s also not a 24 hour thing (for me at least), there’s a limited window of time in the day to be at the beach. Then there’s the matter of rinsing off and getting dry again, eating something, and getting dressed for work on weekdays. The main factor here was that there needed to be a chunk of time available that could accommodate all of that, plus getting there and back. As folks naturally flowed through my practice I had to start taking away available hours a couple months in advance so that I started later every day to make this possible. On the surface this would appear to be a poor financial choice, cutting 4-5 appointments each week for several months. But something totally unexpected happened: the net change was almost (not quite) zero. How could this be possible?? The answer was pretty simple, I was grounded and happy and felt connected…and I didn’t really crave the things I used to. I didn’t mind throwing together inexpensive meals because I had plenty of time. I felt fit, my skin was clear and healthy, and I didn’t care so much about new clothes and such. I was tired from a full morning most days and my “entertainment” was largely being outside. My spending dropped almost inexplicably, and I realized just how much I used money to solve the problem of “satisfaction.”

This may not be a relatable example for you but there’s a version of it that is. One where we try to buy time when we really need space to rest. I’m sure for each of you there is something that you love that doesn’t really cost anything but time… A practice that bends time for you, offers you more in return than it actually took. This feels even clearer as I’ve become only slightly busier and I feel the presence of the old habits creep in. I’ve found that I need a lot more time than I think I “should” to actually rest. And to get that time I need to unplug even more from capitalism, because that’s the math. This also means redefining what success looks like to center the experience rather than how an observable measurement. Assessing value and currency beyond cash: time, relationships, physical health, contentment, connection, and the ability to make choices.

Maybe you’re feeling it too. 

Here are some prompts for further exploration:

Are there certain times of year where you feel called to rest?

What does rest look and feel like for you?

What changes in your life when you are truly rested?

What fills your cup?

How does your work life correspond with your rest/personal life?

What are the areas of value in your life, how would you define success beyond metrics of career, money, or prestige?

What are your personal indicators that you are off balance?

What could you change this week to show yourself that you’re committed to restoring your sense of balance?

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