"If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won't have to hear it scream."
~ Project Happiness
This last week, I fell sick. As is my throat's way, it was all very dramatic, and I went from being largely functional on Monday to sleeping eighteen hours and still feeling shaky on Tuesday. It came at an interesting time, at the end of a second longish trip in a month, just as Ranjitha (of the Bangalore NVC Practice Group) and I finished our workshop on Self-Empathy, and when I had, for the first time, the prospect of a few days where I had no huge commitments. Almost as though my body knew I was already looking for more things to occupy myself with (I had just made a "to-do" list the size of the Grand Trunk Road), she decided to put her foot down. It was nice that she waited until I was done with the workshops.
It occurred to me as I succumbed and rested my body and mind, that I've been receiving very clear signals for the last month or so: a shorter temper than usual, a general sense of fatigue, the necessity of to-do lists as I had moments of blanking out, and insane amounts of body ache. My body and mind have been telling me for weeks to rest, and I've been resisting. (On another note, I'm not too sure what needs this resistance meets for me. Contribution, perhaps, and participation, as I remain engaged in the world; community and belonging. And perhaps meaning. I am very sure that it comes at the cost of rest - and eventually this costs me all of those needs I'm trying to meet in the first place! To say the least, this isn't a strategy that is working too well for me, and my body has made it very clear!)
In the week of rest my chest infection so firmly guided me to, I found a lot of things began to happen. A physical wellness has started to emerge - along with a renewed ability to heal those small aches and pains which were blossoming into all out chaos before. As though through my resting, my body was able to access its natural wisdom and take the time it needed to pull things together. This is perhaps generally known to people. For me, the awareness that my body was able to heal itself was a warm reminder, and a relief - physically, this has been the most comfortable I've been since floating in the ocean.
The second thing that happened was that my heart and mind found more space too. To be sure, the white noise of thoughts did not entirely abate; at some moments, there had to be a conscious choice to put aside the thoughts that were adding such clutter in my head. And at the same time, once that choice was made, the thoughts became less potent. In resting, the thoughts had the opportunity to find where they really needed to go. Some of them were just judgments, little chattering jackals who needed sleep to calm down, or who were willing to wander elsewhere if I was willing to let them go. A few were those that really wanted to stay, really needed attention; those stayed, and without the clammer of the others, I was able to attend to them.
The emotional saturation made it difficult to have conversations that were longer than ten or fifteen minutes long, and maybe once or twice a day. I had gratitude for people who were able to give me that space and time to rest. In meeting my needs for rest, once the body and mind and heart felt more assured, I had more space in a few days. I also had more acceptance of how things were, because the thoughts telling me "I should be able to talk" or "I'm supposed to do this" and so on were quieter once they'd calmed down. And once I had rested, other things came back - creativity, calm, order, contribution, meaning, and the need I really had no idea I was holding dearly: joy!
Resting seemed to require a conscious decision to stop NOT resting, one that I was very resistant to. This teaches me something about myself, a lesson I am not entirely sure about yet. In letting it lie, though, with an infinite acceptance that for now I do not know, I sense things will become clearer. Rest also had the sense of taking a lot of space for self-care and healing. In some ways this was almost a bit scary. Perhaps that was the resistance, the fear of "too much" space. It transpired to be not the scary kind of space that yawns out in a manner that is rather terrifying, but a spacious holding with infinite ease. Meeting my need for Rest was sort of like lying down in that field that Rumi talked about, "when the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about," with openness and acceptance, and deep lovingkindness for myself.