Contrary to the idea that we should all be busy all the time and ‘getting things done’ at all hours of the day, entering into deep relaxation actually makes us more productive, focused and efficient.
On top of that, it reduces the chances of the body suffering from health issues that arise as a result of extended periods of stress. Yogis have known this for centuries; but now modern science is beginning to pay attention to the value of rest as well.
Next year’s retreat in Bali is focused on deep relaxation and restoring energy and joy. Each time I plan a retreat I look to new sources to weave together with the traditions of yoga and meditation; new inspiration to help you surrender yourself to the power of rest.
What Are the Scientists Saying?
Until the 1990s, it was widely accepted within scientific communities that when we’re not engaging in any stimulating activity, our brain activity drops significantly. In other words, when we’re not doing something our brain isn’t working very hard.
But in the mid-1990s researchers at Washington University in Saint Louis proved that even during down-time the brain is consuming at least 20% of the entire body’s energy production. All the time.
And this intrinsic activity of the brain is doing crucial work to organise our cognitive function.
More recently, this review of research into the work that goes on during periods of low brain activity made a significant impact on our understanding of the value of practices that allow us to slow down. It shows that when we’re resting, the brain is in fact highly productive and purposeful — resting is anything but lazy!
There are at least five resting state networks which we enter into when the brain isn’t busy with external stimuli. Reaching these resting states is essential to a wide range of brain functions, including:
Forming and reaffirming our sense of identity
Developing our social skills; our understanding of human behaviour
Forming and refining our internal code of ethics
Rest allows us to make sense of the world; of ourselves; and of others. And when that happens we become more confident in our internal world and more creative and productive in the external world.
But Why is the Science Important in Daily Life?
Because when we’re aware that vital physiological and neurobiological processes take place during rest it becomes easier to let go of the busyness.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty for taking time out for yourself. For feeling as though you’re selfish if you commit resources — time, money, energy — to your self-care and personal, spiritual practice.
But when you understand that making this time for yourself will make your brain work better in the rest of your life you’re a step closer to releasing yourself from social pressure. And a step closer to being your best, most creative, productive and compassionate self!
It’s All About Balance
I’ve said it before: balance in life makes all the difference to your wellbeing.
To be productive in your work, family and social life — and in your personal creative life — you must give your body and brain time to rest and restore. You must find equilibrium and protect your energy.
When your lifestyle doesn’t include periods of dedicated rest every single day, you have to make that time. It takes determination; because all too often we find ourselves saying “Oh, I can rest tomorrow, or next weekend, or next month, or next year when this busy period is over”. But time goes on and that ideal moment for rest never shows up because there’s always more to do.
In the tradition of yoga, your practice is just as important as other aspects of your life. When you schedule it in that time on your calendar becomes sacred. You time.
Planning ahead — both day by day, week by week, and scheduling in longer periods for deep immersion into your practice — will prevent the ever-rolling expectations of a busy life from getting in the way. So do it! Write your resting time into your diary and respect it.
Booking a retreat in advance is the perfect way to schedule solid you-time into your year. It’ll give you something to look forward to, and create a bigger picture of the way you flow through the months; there will be relief ahead.
I’d love to have you in Bali next April. Book before 6 December 2018 to save $300 (this offer is limited to the first 8 bookings only).