A Jedi mind trick for the rest averse
I’m terrible at resting. I am in a near constant state of anxiety about getting it all done, falling behind, missing out… The endless treadmill of not enoughness is always nipping at my heels. And I suffer for it. But I’ve found a clever way into rest, a Jedi mind trick of sorts. A way to convince myself that rest is productive, which it totally is.
First I had to appeal to my value of efficiency. I am a fan of expending the least amount of energy possible for each task, maximizing output in the process. If I go out on errands for example, I’ll go to several stores in the vicinity. Train ride into the city? A perfect opportunity to get my reading or journal writing done. Do I sound annoying? or familiar? or annoying because it’s so familiar?
At best, I am ambitious and energetic and feel passionate about life. There is so much to create! to enjoy! to see! and my penchant for efficiency is really about freeing me up for the fun stuff. I have a fairly sane work schedule, usually compressing my full time job into a part time work week and spending the rest of my time with my family, seeing friends, exercising, whatever it is that’s important to me. At worst, I don’t know when to stop. I haven’t cultivated a gentle voice inside that says, It’s okay. You’ve done enough for today.
The Law of Least Effort
The first time I heard about the law of least effort was in Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success He argues that it’s not about applying more effort, but about applying the right effort at the right time. In other words, it’s not that more effort equals more results but that right effort equals right results. It is also about creative flow. When we rest we are more easily able to access new ideas and insights, to see solutions and solve problems with deeper clarity and calm.
For example, when looking for a life partner, some people cast a wide net, figuring that the more bars they go to, the more dates they go on, the more they put themselves out there, the better. This might work for some, but when I was looking for a partner, this method exhausted me, discouraged me and drained my energy (I never enjoyed bars and clubs) I chose instead to follow my intuition, only go out on dates that really excited me, and trust that one day I would be in the frozen food aisle when Mr. Right came strolling along.
This is all to say that rest and creative flow are connected. That you can actually do less, and achieve more.
Rest and Creativity
How many great ideas have you had in the shower? or on a long walk? Clarity often comes when we give ourselves space to rest, space to breathe, room to allow our heads to be a in a different mindset.
Rest provides a powerful connection to our truest voice, our creative flow and our deepest wisdom. The practice of conscious rest is a type of clearing, a way to make space for new thoughts and dreams, a space for clarity and insight to find us, a place to get present and relish the blessings in our lives.
If our goal is to live our lives in flow, it pays to stop and take a sabbath or a breath in our week and allow that space. Wayne Muller calls the sabbath “a sanctuary in time.” No matter how you choose to create a sabbath, whether it is a no screen day, a morning hike, or a simple candlelit meal with friends, know that you are honoring the quiet in you, the listening that is necessary to live in the flow of life, to practice right effort.
Creating a sanctuary in time is a gift we give ourselves and our families. It does not take away from the ways we work hard to serve the people we love, but instead honors the conscious way we want to be with them.
If the idea of cultivating a practice of rest (and play and kindness) appeals to you, please join us for this summer’s Dream Lab! We will be exploring the themes of rest, play and kindness all summer in fun and easy ways. It will be easy to keep up (promise!) because we have designed the course with the intention of making space for more rest and joy in our lives.
The summer Dream Lab begins June 18th!