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  • Writer's pictureEsther Brownwood

Just rest, leave the rest


rested; resting; rests

Definition of rest

1a : to get rest by lying down especially : sleep

b : to lie dead

2 : to cease from action or motion : refrain from labor or exertion

3 : to be free from anxiety or disturbance

June has arrived, and with it, it brings some months of rest for all you hard working students out there.

I remember the feeling of hardly being able to wait for the summer holiday, though nowadays it seems to fly by so quickly.

I used to go so many days just wishing that it would come, and then when it would, instead of enjoying it, I would worry about how it would be over soon, and I would be back in school just the same.

I think an interesting definition of this word is the last one: To be free from anxiety or disturbance.

Because, I think we can all agree that most younger students will get to experience refraining from labor or exertion, but can we truly rest in the expanded definitions as well?

I know that for me personally, it was always a huge challenge. Of course, I was so happy to finally be able to have a break from school, where I can sleep in and not worry about the teacher's expectations. But enjoying it, truly relishing in the fact that I have all this space and time to rest, didn’t give me the freedom to actually feel rested.

Even as I move into adulthood, it’s so interesting to see that on the days where I supposedly have nothing to do, no serious responsibilities and no need to live up to anything, it’s so difficult to let my mind just be, without anxiety, without thinking that productivity is what my worth is based on.

I could give myself a few hours, watch a TV show or just listen to music, and yet underneath all the supposed resting, is a sense of urgency, of this time not being utilized in the way that would actually be meaningful in life, so it didn’t actually feel like rest at all.

Yet when I am able to be in touch with the bigger picture, it all seems so clear. It doesn’t matter if I’m working day and night, at the end of the day, we all end at the same conclusion: death.

I know it’s a bit morbid to think about these things, but the thought of death actually really helps me rest in this way, because it awakens me to the absolute truth, being productive in this earthly plane will not change the outcome.

Whether or not I lay around for days and sleep til noon, or work my ass off doesn’t really matter.

I am alive right now, but I won’t always be, so taking the time to rest, to actually let myself just be in the present, and be nobody in a sense, gives me so much freedom.

If I wouldn’t see the people and the culture around me being so busy and On all the time, then I feel like it would be much easier to let myself actually rest. I often ponder about ancestors, and think about how they didn’t live in such a fast paced world. Of course, they had their own challenges, but because they were more in touch with the cycles of nature, rest was more acceptable. Sometimes, there isn’t anything to do, except be.

But when I’m so focused and consumed by what society and the world expects from me, then it’s almost impossible to give over to the feeling of actual, real rest, because there are always things that can be done, there are always problems that have to be solved, there are always more exciting things one could be doing, there is always access to this world of competition and excellence.

That’s why zooming out, realizing that no matter what you do in life, just the fact that you are here, alive and well, is such a blessing in and of itself, it gives you the permission to rest. You do not have to be anybody special, you are worthy just because you exist.

Who are we to say that our time here was wasted by resting? What do you truly gain from being On all the time? Why does productivity give you worth?

I’m not saying give up your day to day life and do nothing.

I’m just saying that examining our relationships to these aspects of life: rest and productivity, can have an incredible impact in the long run, it can help you from burning out, and to actually be able to enjoy your life even during the hectic times.

I love the anecdote of the monk who was asked about meditation. He said “15 minutes a few times a day is perfect!” Then he was asked “What if It’s an incredibly busy, stressful time?” He replied with “Then take 1 hour a day”.

It seems counterintuitive, but the amount of deep, true rest we actually allow ourselves, does help maximize our performance when it’s time to be productive.

For example, when I actually let myself just be without expectation, without worry and anxiety, with truly accepting that if I did nothing all day, I wouldn’t feel ashamed and guilty, sometimes that’s exactly when I create from the most authentic and honest place, because I’m not trying, I’m just letting it happen. If you take the pressure off, it might just all flow out naturally and automatically.

So to all you kiddos gearing up for the summer and feeling a similar anxiety as I used to feel: I hope you find time to allow yourself to rest, in all senses of the word!

Have a beautiful, restful month, I love you all.

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