Time to Rest

I remember reading a book in college that talked about the Sabbath. It said as most of know, that every seventh day was to be a day of rest.  What most of us don’t know is that it also went on to say that every seventh week was to be a week of rest, every seventh month a month of rest and every seventh year was to be a year of rest (hence the sabbatical).  I remember when I read about the Sabbath and this cycle of rest and repair that it made a lot of sense to me.  When I first started working I was mindful to make every seventh day a day of rest and even every seventh week a week of rest.  As time went on and life got more busy I veered from that path, but these days I find myself reflecting on what I read way back then and desiring to re-implement some of that wisdom into my life now.

These days we live in a culture that values productivity, accomplishment and general busyness.  I remember reading an article last year about how our culture glorifies busy.  in fact, when you ask someone how they are a common response is:  BUSY.  As a culture we have lost the fine art of rest, reflection, and time for self.  Everyone is too busy to rest and reflect.

In my work as an acupuncturist I see one of my main jobs is to give people permission to rest.  So often that which our bodies need is some time for rest and reflection.  Because we live in a culture that doesn’t value these things people often feel guilty “doing nothing” or taking time for themselves or taking time to rest.

But what if what we really need to heal, repair and feel satisfied in our lives is time to slow down and time to reflect?  What if the schedule of rest referred to in the book I was reading was accurate?  What if every seventh day was a day of rest, every seventh week a week of rest, every seventh month a month of rest and every seventh year a year of rest.  How might the quality of our lives change?

Now, I realize that in our modern world taking a year or even a month off might be unrealistic but perhaps we all could get better at taking some time for ourselves, taking time to slow down, and taking more time for contemplation and rejuvenation.

Perhaps if we are not ready to give ourselves more scheduled time off we could start with giving ourselves more permission to take a nap   I read somewhere that Albert Einstein took three naps a day.  I am guessing that 3 naps a day allowed his brain to function at its best and allowed insight and creativity to explode in him.  What might we accomplish if we allowed ourselves to rest more and take a nap now and then?

My Shiatsu teacher was particularly inspiring in this regard and really taught me about the value of giving myself time to reflect, rest and rejuvenate in a culture that doesn’t value these things.  It is something that has stayed with me all these years.

And so, even if you can’t take a month or a year off or even a week off, perhaps you could give yourself more permission to rest.  Perhaps we could all give ourselves more permission to take it slow sometimes, to nap, to rest, to rejuvenate and just be.  We live in a culture that values the more masculine attributes of productivity, drive, contribution and ambition.  And while these are admirable traits for all of us they become out of balance when not coupled with the more traditionally feminine attributes of rest, quietude, nurtance, and beingness.  We all need a balance of the masculine and feminine regardless of our gender.  We all need discipline and drive but we also need time for reflection and rest and beingness.  Of course, the balance will look different for each one of us depending on the stage of life we are in and our life purpose.  And so we can each learn to listen deeply within and find the balance that suites our individual life path.

For now, above all else. I would like to give you permission to rest.  I would like to give you permission to take a nap from time to time.   And I would like to give you permission to just be for a while.  Put your worldly ambition aside for a time and see what bubbles up inside of you when you give yourself some space.

And of course, you don’t need my permission for anything.  But because we live in a culture that so values busyness, I think it can be reassuring to remember that it is okay to take it slow sometimes, it is okay to rest, and it is okay to just be for a while.

So give yourself a day of rest from time to time, and perhaps a week of rest now and then.  Listen deeply and see what feels right for you.  Take the idea of balancing the yin and the yang and see how it fits into your life.

And hey, if three naps a day worked for Albert Einstein, who knows what a little rest might do for us!

Hayley Mermelstein

p.s. And if you would like to join with others in the spirit of community and healing and transformation, we will be having our group healing at 800 Main street, this Monday, April 15 from 7-8:30 at 800 main Street in Amherst.  The class is drop in and all are welcome.  The cost is $15.00 Hope to see you there!