BALANCE_OCTOBER_2019 - 36

GIVE IT A REST
Doing nothing could be the
best course of (in)action, as
The Book Of Rest invites you
to embrace turning off...

H

ow often do you do nothing? Not
reading, not watching TV, not
scrolling absent-mindedly on your
phone. Just pure unadulterated
nothing? Staring into space as the kettle boils,
lounging aimlessly on the sofa for a few minutes
or gazing out of the train window? We suspect the
answer is, rarely. Even compared to just 10 years
ago, we're giving our brains far fewer breaks than
ever before. We're cramming stimuli into every
last second of our lives without realising it, and,
just like an overstimulated child, we can't stop.
Unsurprisingly, this is leaving us with a sense
that our lives are too full - that we're running on
empty or maybe even on the verge of burnout.
It's even affecting the quality of our sleep.
Smartphones are the obvious culprit of the
decline in natural pauses in our lives, but we're
also engaged with a culture that encourages us
to be constantly doing something - and that
includes things that are supposed to help us
feel more relaxed, such as meditation, yoga, and
mindfulness. Such practices can be amazing
aides to our wellbeing, but they can become
yet another addition to our to-do list. Our
preoccupation with becoming a healthier, more
chilled-out person is leaving us frazzled.
That said, there is an interesting and somewhat
revealing movement in the yoga industry right
now, towards more rest-based classes. Not just
those that might be described as "restorative"
involving fewer longer-held postures, but
sessions in which you unroll your mat and lie

REST REVEALS
A PART OF US
- A PART OF
EVERYONE -
THAT NEEDS
NOTHING
36

down for an hour (or more) as the teacher
guides you towards the precipice of sleep.
This practice, known as yoga nidra, is not a
new phenomenon, in fact, it's thousands of
years old. Now its popularity is on the rise, and
speaks a great deal about where we're at. We're
starting to recognise the ill effects of living with
constant stimulation, and of being encouraged
to carry the oxymoronic conviction that
self-acceptance can only be achieved if we make
changes first. As a consequence of this, we're
now trying to find refuge from it all.
This refuge, we're discovering, is within us.
Yoga nidra does not involve the application of
peace on to your experience; it's a process of
removing everything but your awareness. A yoga
nidra class provides a fantastic forum to venture
behind and beyond the constant nagging of
the world around us and our over-stimulated
brains. The sanctuary is not in the class, it's in
your body and mind's natural ability to rest.

Much ado about nothing
Unlike sleep, when resting, we're conscious,
but not controlling any aspect of our experience.
Think back to the last time you middle-distance

gazed, or that moment after waking but before
you started to work anything out; a brief
moment of existing without thinking when you
were simply being.
Rest occurs when nothing else is happening,
just as meditation is not something you do but
more what is left when you don't do anything.
Our proposition is that a deep state of rest is
akin to a state of meditation, in that it's an
experience of the absence of doing and thinking.
When all else stops, we exist as the unending
stillness of awareness that is the backdrop to all
experience.
Rest sounds pretty fancy and complicated
when we describe it like that, but we do
so to convey the significance of 'rest' in a
world where we're told we must work hard
and do as much as we can at all times. Rest
reveals a part of us - a part of everyone - that
needs nothing. To retreat into this aspect of
ourselves is a balm to suffering, and enables
us to exist, even if only for a few moments,
without judgement, fear or expectation, and
with complete self-acceptance of ourselves
and everyone around us. And it involves doing,
having and being good at absolutely nothing.



BALANCE_OCTOBER_2019

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