When you think “thrive”, think of all the seemingly small, but necessary daily elements of life as the miraculous organ you are as a human being. At our essence we are a living organism, on a living Planet, in a living Universe. So, I’ve been teaching this for over 20 years : the teaching never changes, results of practice are always the same . . .
All we are on a physical level as a human being is air, water and food. And physically, our body’s 10-13 trillion cells replace themselves every 100 days [just over 3 months]. How about that for a “slow flow”? And what does rest and relaxation do for our organism?
I’m a teacher, so repeating myself goes with the job! Small steps, small changes . . . one day at a time: in 100 days from now you’ll be a new you! I’ve said this to you before, I’m sure there’ll be many tellings again. And, so, let’s talk about repetition and commitment as well as practicalities and practices: we could take the attitude of “What’s the point in showering we’re only going to get dirty again?” or “Why bother washing up when we’re only going have to redo it when we reuse the dishes.” Come to think of it, what’s the point in eating, when we’ll be hungry in a few hours time?
And of course, sleeping’s unnecessary, too . . . we just always end up feeling tired again, don’t we? I don’t think I need to say anymore, do I? Some things in life just need to be repeated: and diligently. A single change doesn’t always effect a permanent transformation. But taking things one step at a time in your day eventually leads to trillions of new cells of “you-ness”. Proper Relaxation is one of the yogic principles for health and a healthy life: the way we thrive.
Here’s the Story:
32 years ago I bought an expensive leg cream – one of the really good quality, big name French manufacturers. I read the leaflet about using the cream, massaging it in, how often to do it etc. I was totally surprised to read that the instructions told me that if I was on a reducing diet and toning up programme (I was) I should get plenty of rest.
Rest? To get rid of my thighs?
This was revolutionary news to me. And I wrote about it in my first published book – a feminist approach to the body-issue of Cellulite which plagues so many women, because it is symptomatic of body imbalance. I wrote it in the winter of 1998/99 and published in Ireland summer of 1999: Don’t Howl for the Moon | Susan Ni Rahilly
I was used to meditating, doing relaxation for visualization – but putting my feet up? I couldn’t figure out the reason for lying around doing nothing – surely that would pile the inches on?
Well, I’ve come a long way since then – and thankfully my awareness about my body has come a long way too. (And generally an overall raising in women’s knowledge about our health and bodies and lifestyles, thankfully.)
So, this is what I found out and what I know now and what I’m passing on to you about Rest and Relaxation.
As simply as I can possibly say it, Rest and Relaxation are needed for 2 very important reasons.
Firstly, when your body is doing it’s job of clearing out old rubbish, it is working hard. If you don’t rest enough while this is going on, you are putting your body under tremendous strain and expecting it to do too much at once – using what little energy you will have at this time both to keep your body going in activity and to clear out. It’s like expecting your washing machine to wash and spin at the same time – two different jobs, 2 different energies.
Secondly, and very importantly, you need to rest so that your body can use its energy for cell renewal. And where this is concerned, time is the great healer especially as we get older when the rate of cell renewal slows down. So we need to give our body the best chance to make new cells, to rejuvenate itself.
Along with rest and relaxation comes rejuvenation: You get new, young, healthy cells to replace damaged, toxic, fat-laden old cells. Does that sound like a good enough reason to rest?
Golden Rules for the “Golden-ness” of zen
Some of the golden rules for relaxation and rest are:
- Don’t use anything stimulating late in the day – caffeine, tobacco, loud music, horror films.
- Make your bedroom restful – take the TV and devices out so you’re not watching upsetting world news late at night or catching up on your social media.
- Make your environment peaceful, with mood lighting, candles, burning oil and incense, restful colours, soothing music.
- Build relaxing herb teas, warm baths and soothing massage oils into your routine.
- Give yourself space to relax.
I actually never thought I would need to still be teaching this 20 years later . . . but, we never stop learning. And as zen says, “expect the unexpected” . . . Learn about relaxation. And yes, it is something some of us have to learn. I did.