Yesterday, I was asked “Did you paint this weekend?” by a couple of older, white male friends of mine. When I answered “No, I didn’t,” I was met with disapproving looks from both of them. I said “Guys, please don’t look at me like that. I did yoga. I studied and did a bit of writing. Wrote and published some of my photo haikus. I cleaned my house, did lots of laundry. I socialized with friends a bit, and played some board games.”
What I didn’t say was “And I rested!”
They still looked at me with a bit of playful disappointment, and laughed a little, but I felt the tension. They now define me as an artist, a painter, and that’s how I should be spending my time. I don’t know about you, but I feel very busy, all the time – with work, exercise, eating well, managing house, social life, artistic life, writing and studying, caring, loving, being, and spiritual practice. I want to paint, I want to create, and when I’m not doing that I feel as if I’m letting myself down a bit too.
But last weekend, I went to bed the first night exhausted. When I woke up the next morning, I played the day in my head – yoga, study, art, work on writing project and website – these were all the things I wanted to do. Yet, when I actually got out of bed and started my day, all I wanted to do was rest.
It’s difficult for me to find balance and give attention to all the important aspects of my life. I have lately been struck by the realization about how much pressure I put on myself to always be working. The idea of rest seems to me antithetical to the rest of my life. When I find myself at rest, my inner critic “jackass” often describes me as being “lazy”, “slothful”, “good-for-nothing.” “I’m just wanting to watch a movie,” I argue with myself “why is that so bad?”
I was doing yoga a couple weeks ago, and the yoga teacher says “Let’s move into child’s pose and rest.” After a few breaths, she says “We rest so we can move on.”
“We rest so we can move on.”
Perhaps rest is really the key to finding and keeping balance in our life. Giving ourselves permission to rest, to simply watch a movie on a cold winter’s day, is okay. We don’t have to be in motion ALL THE FRIGGIN’ TIME! We can let ourselves rest by really listening to what our body and soul needs. When we rest, we are giving ourselves permission to take a break from the busyness, to slow down, to breath a bit. When we do come back up for air and re-immerse ourselves in the never-ceasing flow of our day-to-day life, we can move a bit more gracefully, less jittery, and a little less frantically.
So, dearest readers, take it easy on yourselves! Let yourself rest when you need to rest, and don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t let the inner critic “jackass” give you gruff. Let the rest come, let it refresh you, so that you can find true balance in all your endeavors.