We need down time, dark time, when the moon shadows are long. We need a break from the stimulation of the everyday world, the blasting noise and smells and light. We cannot be constantly taking in new information without taking the time to learn, integrate and consolidate new ideas. We cannot be constantly doing and creating without periods of rest, recuperation, contemplation, integration. We need time to gestate and germinate new ideas. All life is cyclical with times of growth and rest, germination and incubation and birth and death. We are no different.
Most of us would struggle to fully achieve the day of rest that many religions advocate. However, there are sound reasonings behind its recommendation. A day of rest gives us time for contemplation of our lives, it gives both our bodies and minds a chance to rest and recuperate and it can be an important time to connect with families, friends and our community.
Although a whole day of rest may seem an impossible challenge I think it is well worth taking a part of a day each week to create a rest ritual. This could be a couple of hours on a Friday evening in preparation for the weekend or on a Sunday evening to prepare for the week ahead. It can of course be at any time of the week depending on the individuals commitments and schedule.
Here are some suggestions for a weekly rest and recuperation ritual. The suggestions can be incorporated into one section of the week or spread out over the course of seven days whichever you feel is more appropriate to you. Choose the ones that resonate with you and ignore anything you feel is inappropriate. Take care here though that it is not your busy monkey mind that is suggesting these things are a waste of time. The monkey mind doesn’t like rest and recuperation or any airy fairy ideas that do not produce material results. If your busy mind tries to hijack your attempts at recuperation, remind it that these practices will make you more productive in the rest of the week.
- A lie in, a special cup of coffee or breakfast are all good ways of marking out one part of the week as different and especially allocated as rest and recuperation time.
- Spend time with family or close friends in an activity that helps you to connect more closely such as a simple meal or a walk in nature. Make sure that you don’t add to the burden of your commitments by creating a complicated ritual where your whole family expects to descend on you every Sunday for a roast and all the trimmings. A meal out is ideal but if this is not possible a simple meal should be chosen preferably with visitors contributing in some way.
- Take some time to identify pleasurable activities that you would like to have more time to do and then allocate a part of the week to them. You could spend ten minutes a day learning a new language or one afternoon a week practicing photography. You could go to an evening class once a week or just spend time reading or watching films. Don’t veg out in front of the television. It’s fine to spend time watching particular programmes or films that you really enjoy, but watching TV indiscriminately doesn’t fulfil the function of recuperation very well.
- A romantic night out with your significant other is a good thing to have planned regularly as it helps you to keep connected.
- Spending extra time on practices such as meditation, being in nature or other spiritual rituals are good. You can relax over these things more when there is less time pressure and it also allows an opportunity to go deeper into the connection with a different part of the mind.
- Reading uplifting books is an ideal activity for a rest day. You can also use the time to read books that help you learn more about practices which you have found helpful such as meditation or journalling.
- Personal care is important to our health and well-being and also our self esteem. Take some time for personal grooming with a relaxing bath and perhaps extra skin care or nail care. You could even have a massage or healing treatment.
- Spending time on a neglected hobby, doing things you loved to do as a child but never find time for now, or starting a new activity that you have always wanted to have a go at are great ways to rest, recuperate and get into the flow state.
Anything that helps you to recover from the general work and stress that can creep up in the week is great for this activity. It is highly personal so spend some time thinking what would help you to feel restored in mind and body. Then mark the time in your diary and keep it sacred.