Somewhere in my resting books, I came across the idea that when we give our bodies and brains a break from our adrenaline-pumped reality, we often misread the experience of rest as depression which is why we default to distraction.
I have combed through my research trying to find this reference for you in order to validate my own experience. But, alas, I cannot find the quote.
What I can tell you, is that was true of my own 30 days and it would be unkind of me to invite you into a season of rest and not disclose that there are dark and boring places and spaces that we are unable to ignore when we are still.
One of my professors told us about a time when she did a mindfulness exercise where she was instructed how to walk–fully aware of each step and every muscle that was working in her calf, her thigh, her knee. She had to walk as slowly as she possibly could. Her knee had been bothering her for awhile, but it was in the background of her busy and distracted days. She said she had hardly started the exercise when she was overcome by excruciating pain in her knee and collapsed.
This is kind of what happened to me last year. I knew I needed rest, but what a wiser part of me also must have known is that when I finally did stop, I would feel some pain that had been numbed by the adrenaline that kept me going.
Although I desperately desired to live a different way, at the same time, I did not want to rest because I wasn’t ready to feel those feelings that would inevitably come up if I let myself simply be present. The life that I had constructed was one that enabled me to avoid the ache of my past shame, the reality of my current grief and my fears about the future.
One of my griefs was how much of the past few years I parented on auto-pilot. I didn’t want to acknowledge my regrets and the loss of that that time and connection with my kids. But, I also knew that in order to not have the same regrets two years from now, when they were both out of high school, I had to make some different choices.
If someone would have told me that I would have to face all of my fears if I wanted to rest, I might have taken a pass. All I can say today is that it was worth it. The pain does not compare to the gifts. The fascinating thing is that the pain and the gifts are all tangled together. I would NEVER go back to that way of living and miss out on the sweetness of this precious time.
Humans are amazing creations. Our resilience continually impresses me. We were made to think, feel, hurt, recover, and repair. We are made for the ups and downs of life. Just like in music, rest is the pause between the notes that allow us to hear the song.
Those pauses can feel like nothing, they can feel like aches, and they might be really painful. If this happens to you when you rest, I just want you to know that you are not alone. It is a part of the process of recovering from our addiction to distraction and engaging with the honest beauty of our reality.
On the other side of that empty space is something so precious, I can’t put it into words. If I did, they would be the words I most needed to imperfectly fill the crevices of my broken heart.
You need the words, the space, and the presence that you can only know and hear in your very own kind of stillness.