Reflections on Rest + Play

How was your rest and play practice this past week? Did you give it a try?

I’ve been reflecting on it myself, as I’m sitting here on my final night in Mexico, and I have a few thoughts to share …

First of all, you cannot flip a switch to turn them on. I wish we could, and it really doesn’t work like that. They are both practices to be cultivated. Sometimes that may be a mental intention, a turning toward, and sometimes that is an embodied experience, a felt sense. The one thing I know for sure is that they cannot be forced. Just like us, they likely prefer to be invited in, which does give us a place to begin when we may be stuck.

I was a bit surprised to notice that I needed to work through some fear before I had a felt sense of play and a lightness of being that had me feeling more joy. Laughing more, not getting wrapped up in plans, or my thinking brain. I was able to just be, and to take some risks that actually felt like play once I tended to the fears (that I’d hurt myself, or be embarrassed, or some other such familiar thing).

I noticed that, as I suspected, I was more able to create space to rest. On vacation, it looked like relaxing on the beach with my book, taking a walk by the ocean, going to bed early, and having some unplanned time. And yet it still took some time to settle in. My nervous system needed to unwind a bit, and I needed to resist my impulse to jump into a bunch of activities to fill my free time. As I write, I also realize that is exactly what I tend to need at home to feel rested (beach and tropical jungle not required 🏝️).

My hope for us all is that we find ways to care for ourselves in our daily lives.

My final thought for now is that we need to go easy on ourselves in the process. Maybe we have set aside some play time or rest time, and when that space arrives we discover we need something else. So, let’s invite in some spontaneity as well. An inner listening that supports us to follow what is needed, to drop any idealizing or judgment of our experience, and allow ourselves to simply be.