The Power of Rest

We all have an extraordinary ability to keep going, work hard, stay on our feet and keep at it. This is great and something to appreciate. I wonder though whether we have lost sight of what is needed to sustain this and stay well whilst we commit to life and work.

Taking one aspect of self-care and really exploring our relationship with it can be very revealing. For example, rest is something I have had to have a really close look at and would say that for most of my life I have believed it to be a necessity that needs minimal attention or care beyond which it becomes an indulgence.

Over the past couple of years, I have explored my relationship with rest and actually doing shift work has supported with this. At first, I playfully but also kind of seriously approached night shifts as giving myself a bonus day, which is obviously not sustainable! And have now learnt that simply by practising different approaches to when I sleep, eat and exercise around shift work, my body knows exactly what is needed to support being well and vital. I am mastering power naps, realising that it is not always the length of time resting/sleeping that is significant, but the quality of rest that I allow. Do I approach it as a perfunctory necessity, or with the awareness of the importance of what I am doing and how this not only honours me but also everyone I am going to come into contact with in life and work?

And in changing my perception of rest from being only about sleep and a certain quantity of it, to being about listening respectfully to my body – resting when it is called for and also being aware of how I move through my day, and whether I am exhausting myself or actually allowing a flow that does not debilitate – I am able to work long hours with ease and left-over sprightliness!

As an example, leading up to one night-shift, I lay down for two hours and just rested, bringing attention to my breath and my body, and let myself surrender to being supported by the bed. It was remarkable inasmuch as I did not sleep but felt deeply rested and ready for the night ahead. For me, this flies in the face of accepted theories about how much sleep we need.

Our bodies are our greatest guides, signposting us every step of the way with how we are going, what is needed and when we have gone astray. We seem to give more attention to how to ignore this clear messaging than we do to simply listening.

We have an amazing capacity to work and innately love to serve, commit to service and work alongside others; so, it would absolutely make sense to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to do this, yes? And yet it is not the norm to prioritise self-care, to really honour and nurture ourselves, and I feel that this is a big factor in the critical state of our health, time off sick and lack of joy and vitality at work.

I have a sense that our health service would look very different if it was the norm for us to take care of ourselves, take responsibility for our well-being and realise how gorgeous it is to feel well and vital.

By Matilda Bathurst, Midwife, UK

Further reading:
The Body will never tell you a lie
A Relationship with Stillness
Quality of Sleep

 

70 thoughts on “The Power of Rest

  1. Our bodies 🕺🏿 signposts 🚦 are everything and learning 🦉 how to understand them is key 🔑 to our Soul-full 😇 evolution 🔥.

  2. Having been exhausted for so many years I’d say that it’s impossible to rest in a body that’s exhausted because when an exhausted body stops moving it tends to crash out completely, which doesn’t really feel like rest it feels like obliteration. What I absolutely adore feeling now is that I can lay down for an hour and when I lay down and feel my body it already feels like it’s at rest and then from there I drift into sleep and find it easy to wake up after 45 minutes or so and feel ready to get up and get on with my day. And the reason why I already feel rested when I lay down is because I practice resting inside my body as an ongoing activity throughout my day.

    1. I love this… having resting inside your body as you go about your day. I just read an article about connecting to the stillness within us even in amongst the noise of our day and was really touched and inspired by the exquisiteness and strength of this.

  3. How dysfunctional we become when tired 💤 or drugged 🎭🍸🍔 by the myriad of 💡 ideals and beliefs that align us to our spirit.

  4. Sharings like this are a blessing for all. Seeing how many people is struggling in their work environment to sustain a healthy state of being and vitality makes me realize that there is a missing link in the way we approach work. It is the quality of love, starting with how we live 24/7…there is a lot to review here but never is late to change. We can start now, breathing gently and simply listen our body.

    1. Thank you for the reminder that it is never too late to change; that we can go on learning, developing and deepening our understanding of life, ourselves and each other throughout our lives and that actually it is really important to stay open to change, whether that is our behaviour or philosophy.

  5. As I read this gorgeous sharing I can feel my body resting and letting go the ideas around sleeping. It is a precious invitation to simply listen our body messages and trust it. Thank you Matilda.

  6. Could how we live in our life, the way we move, be that with tenderness and purpose or with disregard and force then set us up for how our time of sleep will be? Also could how we move throughout our day and the energy exerted in those movements then dictate how much rest the body needs to support it for the next day?

    1. Two super cool questions. Ones that would be great if we regularly put on the table for review, being open to what is revealed and offered, without self-criticism but with a willingness to be honest.

  7. I can completely relate to what is shared here. Working long shifts and night shifts can be done with a force and drive, or they can be approached with a knowing of what is required and a loving commitment to rest the body so that we can provide the service required in our work.

  8. Rest is something most of us would say we want more of and Love. But when you bring attention to your day, you start to see that it’s something we actively fight (even in our sleep!). For a true stop and repose brings insight, accountability and the truth. Everything our spirit tries to resist.

    1. Absoulutely Joseph, 👌 our spirt 👽 is conniving on all fronts so even the fact that a walk 🚶🏿‍♂️ with our Soul 😇 is also deeply resting and supportive of our bodies is something most fight 🤼‍♂️ as this level of connectivity brings to much awareness and the thing is we can also walk and talk with another 👨‍❤️‍👨 while being connected to our Souls or Essences

    2. So well articulated Joseph – true rest or repose is something we can be Masters of resisting.

  9. Beautiful Matilda and this goes for everything we do in life. For instance we can eat and feel bloated (without overeating) and we can eat and feel nourished. For me the difference is in the quality we buy, prepare, cook and eat the food.

  10. It is more about managing illness nowadays than truly taking responsibility for our own well-being. We are getting used to the fact that it is ‘normal’ to have a health condition which is definitily not the case. And true do we realise how gorgeous it is to feel well and vital.

    1. Living with an illness or a condition seems to be the normal thing in today’s society, so much so that when you talk to someone and ask how they are the typical answer remains ‘Fine’ when in reality it should be ‘I’m fine – and then in small print:… despite being on multiple medications for my blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, etc’. Often when we get so used to being on multiple medications for multiple conditions, we don’t even consider that we have health issues, as it becomes a thing in the background mainly. This is interesting to note.

  11. “my body knows exactly what is needed to support being well and vital”. I am learning this at the moment with the key being present and in my body so I can feel what’s it’s signaling and then respond. Most of us wouldn’t be able to deeply self care because we live in our heads and are not even connected to what our body has to say about anything. Plus self neglect is our societal normal, drinking alcohol, smoking, binge tv and junk foods, they all feel great to the mind but the body is yelling loudly with the symptoms. it’s a huge topic with so much to learn.

  12. We have quite a picture of what we think sleep and rest are about and yet, it is warped by our reliance on our nervous system to push through the times when we are really tired. What you offer here is an opportunity to consider a different relationship with our 24 hour cycle.

  13. I feel that our bodies can be at rest energetically even whilst they’re moving quickly and I feel it’s also true to say that our bodies can be completely immobile and yet energetically we can be careering all over the place.

    1. Yes I get this. I know I can be physically still whilst still super racy inside. And very active with an inner quality of stillness. Letting ourselves rest (developing our relationship with settlement and stillness) is one of the greatest permissions we can afford ourselves.

  14. A couple of night’s ago I woke at the ungodly (or is it in truth Godly) hour of 1.30 am. I committed to staying as relaxed in my body and my thoughts as possible. I have in the past gone into worry about ‘oh no how am I going to function at work?’ and worrying about just how wrecked I’m going to feel, but this time I chose not to. I managed to fall asleep for about another hour before having to get up and get ready for work. Once at work I committed to deepening the quality that I was in rather than trying to eat my way out of my tiredness and hey presto I not only did I get through my day but I got everything done that I wanted to and although I was a little frayed around the edges I did maintained a certain depth and quality to my beingness.

  15. Absoulutey, Soul-fitness allow us to bring much more into our day and deepens the way we rest so the quality we bring to all we do brings the grandness that is evolutionary.

  16. I love the title of this blog as it reminds me that in having a purpose for rest and allowing the body to deeply rest it supports the body for what is needed next.

  17. We don’t seem to give much attention to how or why we sleep and many of us wake up after a night’s sleep feeling just as tired as when we went to bed if not more so and blame it on sleep or lack of it; rather than considering how we are putting ourselves to sleep. I have discovered that because I take more care with myself before going to bed and have a rhythm of putting myself to sleep that the quality of sleep that I have has improved so much so that I’m exploring in greater depth how to expand on what I’m currently doing so that I get even more benefit from my time asleep and so don’t wake up feeling tired, but energized and ready for the day ahead.

  18. I love the simplicity that you bring to our relationship with our body and rest. Being present with ourselves nurtures our whole body and allows it to feel supported and expanded by the space that surrounds it – whereas time squeezes every last particle into a dense ball and we become contracted and stressed – and feel knotted up inside..

  19. I feel that it’s true to say that although we understand the function of our bodies on one level, that there is a deeper level of understanding that the majority of us aren’t aware of and the true function of rest and sleep are in that category. Most of us have some vague notion that our bodies rejuvenate when we crash out but the details escape us. For example many of us have heard a rumour that the sleep that we get before midnight is more rejuvenating than the sleep after midnight but few of us know the biological facts behind it. I read a fantastic article on what happens when we sleep https://medicineandsergebenhayon.com/2015/09/20/the-science-of-early-to-bed/. I feel that once we start to understand the true function of our bodies then we’ll start to respect them more and from that, use them differently.

  20. Reflecting on the title ‘The Power of Rest’ I remembered a point this morning and in getting ready I just slowed down, came to a stop, came back to my body and everything changed. It was really supportive and all it took was for me to listen to and honour my body in an instant ✨

  21. What I find is so incredibly beneficial is physically relaxing my body, which is basically putting it into as deeper rest as I can. Not only do I do this when I’m lying down having an hour or so’s sleep before a late shift, but I also do it when I’m walking (letting my arms hang and swing/ relaxing my whole head/lengthening my hips etc). It’s so incredibly beneficial to physically relax our bodies, it makes it so much harder for us to allow them to get het up when our physical baseline is one of surrender.

    1. I am noticing this more as well Alexis like taking a pause in the middle of getting ready for work and feel myself dropping into my body more and become stiller. It is so gorgeous to feel.

    1. I agree Steve, self-care are our preliminary steps back to God. We can’t reach Him if there’s any element of disregard in our lives. You just can’t bypass self-care, it’s a fundamental step in our return.

  22. Most of us are full of so much internal unrest. We have a whole collection of emotions careering their way through our bodies. We swing from happy to sad to frustrated to angry and that’ can be just in the space of our lunch break. We eat foods and drink drinks that add to our internal unrest by either geeing us up or bombing us out. We bombard ourselves with entertainment, pollution, noise and general ‘lifestyle’ stimulation that adds to our already very unsettled bodies and then at the end of the day we either fall into a kind of coma or lay awake wired! What a great topic of conversation to open up here ‘are we living in a way that’s restful to our bodies or not?’

    1. This morning in amongst the international lock-down and on a bank holiday in the UK, the silence and stillness is palpable. There is a quality in this that is so spacious, offering us all the opportunity to be honest about our relationship with this quality. Do we love it and let ourselves feel it in full; do we clock it and then distract ourselves because it feels awkward or uncomfortable and/or do we pretend we cannot feel it at all?

      1. If there’s unrest in the body then more often than not we feel silence and stillness to be incredibly unsettling and will seek to cover them up with noise, motion or both. For a lot of people even having the telly off is too uncomfortable, in exactly the same way that lots of people can’t bear to be physically still and so keep themselves on the go from morning until night.

  23. Matilda what you share could easily be seen as being a small topic of little importance but I know from experience that it’s not. I am also a shift worker and had to smile when you shared about seeing a nightshift as a means of getting an extra day off. My body was completely bankrupt not so much from the years that I did as a shift worker but more from the way that I lived as a shift worker. And so I hauled my bankrupt body around with me from place to place, thinking that I was presenting people with a great version of me but all I was presenting them with was a body that desperately needed to sleep. I just temporarily covered up my exhaustion with caffeine and stimulating exercise.

    1. What you are saying Alexis is very interesting because if everything is energy and we know that it is because it’s a law of the universe that we can ignore but it’s a truth non the less. Then what energy are we presenting to others as we are hauling our exhausted bodies around? Is this how we all perpetuate ill health and a lack of vitality because we are all giving off the same energy because we are all in the same pool of energy? It makes sense to me that it takes someone who is not living in this pool of energy as everyone else to reflect that there is a different way of living by changing the energy they are living in so there is an offering of a different choice. We now have this choice of a different way of living and many are responding.

  24. For so long I thought rest was something I got from a position or amount of sleep – but now I get that it’s something more, something before all of that. An attitude if you like. For we can sleep but wake up feeling exhausted – we probably all know that. I feel rested when I stop moving internally and surrender to how life is. When I embrace this stop I feel beautiful – when I resist like I’ve been running marathons all night long! Thank you Matilda for this offering – loved the quality it was written in.

    1. Joseph what you share is very interesting about living in a way that feels internally restful. It bought to mind what I’ve been practicing after a do a late shift to an early shift. Initially I felt totally wiped out by how little sleep I got between shifts and wondered how I was going to be able to change that knowing that I couldn’t change the amount of sleep that I was getting. So I have been practicing deepening my quality during the day, just surrendering to the fact that I do feel tired and not wishing that it was any other way and it is transforming the way that I feel. In fact I have gone from feeling wiped out to really quite beautiful.

  25. “… how this not only honours me but also everyone I am going to come into contact with in life and work”. Yes, I felt this was inspiring to me to bring deeper purpose in how I rest and sleep, as it brings into consideration how I will then affect others and what I can bring in terms of productivity and being the full me out in the world.

    1. Interesting isn’t it that having a rest can be a responsible thing to do and yet I for one used to think that people that rested were in some way having a bludge. Having said that I don’t think that everybody that lies down and takes a nap is being responsible, I suppose it comes down to the impulse behind the nap; we can nap to restore our bodies, we can nap in preparation for an upcoming event, we can nap to honour a feeling of tiredness in our bodies, we can nap to avoid doing something that we don’t want to do, we can nap because we can’t be bothered to get up, we can nap because we simply can’t stay awake…..

  26. I love what you share here Matilda and the practical ways you have explored this and yes gosh if we all took this care for ourselves and listened to our bodies it would take sooooooo much pressure off the amazing health care services we have.

  27. A great point to ponder on for us all: “I have a sense that our health service would look very different if it was the norm for us to take care of ourselves, take responsibility for our well-being and realise how gorgeous it is to feel well and vital.” – how much could our world change with some true self care?

    1. Let’s give it a go. One by one changing the way we live. Exploring, experimenting, learning to listen to, respond and honour our bodies. Becoming examples of how we can live everyday full of vitality and a sense of the joy and purpose of life.

    2. Henrietta I agree with you I was recently approached by the health care system asking for support as they needed more courses on health care for those people who have Diabetes. As more people are diagnosed with this condition there is a needed for more courses for them to learn about the condition and how they can support themselves. I remember being told about 7 or so years back that this illness will bankrupt the NHS and from this email that was sent out asking for support it seems to me that the prediction is occurring. If we were to consider that everything is energy then I wonder what energetically is behind this huge increase in Diabetes?

  28. Matilda, this too is GOLD to read and be reminded of as it is something I too am experimenting with and learning more and more: “And in changing my perception of rest from being only about sleep and a certain quantity of it, to being about listening respectfully to my body – resting when it is called for and also being aware of how I move through my day, and whether I am exhausting myself or actually allowing a flow that does not debilitate – I am able to work long hours with ease and left-over sprightliness!”

  29. Matilda, I love what you have shared here: “I am mastering power naps, realising that it is not always the length of time resting/sleeping that is significant, but the quality of rest that I allow.” – and this is key for us in that the more we look after the quality of our naps or rest, the faster and more efficiently we can regenerate and hence the less we may need as rest on the long run too 😉

  30. I’ve had this belief that night shifts are unnatural and unhealthy. While I read blogs like these it shows it can be done in a healthy way.

  31. I totally agree what you say Matilda,”Our bodies are our greatest guides, signposting us every step of the way with how we are going, what is needed and when we have gone astray.”
    I also do shift work and find that in order to not get exhausted rest is vital but it is about listening to our body and not overriding it.
    I too have found that if I rest on my bed for 2 hrs prior to a night shift and focus on my gentle breath and allow my body to fully surrender, I am refreshed enough to go to work for 9.5 hr shift, feeling energised.
    I have found that it is about the quality of rest or sleep and not necessarily the amount of sleep that sustains you during the next day.

    1. I agree Greg. Seeing rest as purposeful has really turned things around for me. There is the gorgeous responsibility we all have of being in the best shape we can be, ready for whatever the day offers.

    2. I like that Greg because it highlights to me how we can stop and reconsider everything when we notice that we can’t rest or sleep properly. What I see around us more and more is that we don’t stop but override the fact with caffeine, sugar and or drive etc., but this does not change the fact that we are not rested. Would it not be more simple to look at why we don’t rest or sleep well?

  32. When we take responsibility for our physical body and listen to its messages, the financial and otherwise burden on our health system and the people who work in it would most definitely lessen.

  33. Matilda, you bring a very different understanding to the way rest is viewed. It feels like it makes so much difference how we put ourselves to rest and how we move when we are awake which then builds the quality not quantity of the rest we can have.

      1. I agree Steve, it feels to me that our minds are predominantly governed by a very self-serving energy, one that seeks to continually reinforce it’s individuality. ‘My problems, my thoughts, my dilemmas, my struggles, my achievements, my ambitions, my victories, my, blah, blah, blah’. Whereas the body on the other hand when respected and nurtured eventually leads us all to the understanding that ‘my this and my that’ is all part of the grand illusion of life because in truth there is no you and there is no me, there is only the United Consciousness of Us.

  34. A health service staffed by people who honour the value of sleep and listen and respond to their body when it calls to rest and move with grace would be a much healthier place to work and offer a deeply caring and nurturing reflection to their patients.

    1. I agree Mary. Let’s face it if someone is telling us to rest who fully understands what that means we are more likely to take it on board and listen, other wise the words are empty although well intended.

      1. I’m getting to feel more and more the lack of substance in ‘good intentions’. Good intentions are similar to ‘well meaning’ they don’t come with the authority and backing of the body, which is why we can all feel the lack of sincerity and truth in them. When something is backed by the body then it’s non negotiable, the body has the ultimate say.

  35. This also explains why we can wake up tired even if we have been asleep for several hours. It is in the quality of what we do not the quantity. Thank you Matilda- inspiring.

    1. Well said Anne – so waking up tired is a good indicator of our need to revisit how we are living as this is impacting on the quality of our night time sleep and hence snowballing as an effect into our next day too.

    2. Absolutely! As if we go to bed still in the momentum of our day which probably includes some form of stress or anxiety then of course we are not going to get a good nights sleep. I am realising more and more the importance of the wind down period before sleep.

      1. And ultimately the importance of not allowing ourselves to get wound up in the first place. Currently it seems an impossibility for most of us but ultimately we will all get to the point where we don’t need to wind down because non of us will budge from our steady connected calmness.

    3. There is probably quite a lot of myth busting here about needing a certain number of hours to qualify for having had a ‘good night’s sleep’. Making our own bodies and experiences into a bit of a science experiment can be really fun. And the end result is that we get to know ourselves better and what actually truly does and does not support us.

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