Do I know how to rest?

So, I quit my job.

For now.

It’s time for a transition.

I don’t have any immediate plans, and I’m starting to embrace the fact that I don’t need to. In a practical sense, this is something I can sustain for a year or two. But that’s not the most important part.

I also just don’t need to. I don’t have to have a job in order to have an identity or purpose. I usually feel like I do, but I don’t. Right now I know this logically, but in time I will come to know it fully. The kind of knowing that is feeling and experiencing and believing.

A few months ago, during a meditation, I asked what I needed to do, and the answer that came back was “Rest.” I knew that this was true, because when something is really, deeply and vulnerably true I get this feeling like I want to cry. Everyone feels that, right?

Anyway, as someone who has always kind of looked to external cues to define one’s own value, I was pretty resistant.

Fast-forward to now, where I’m not working full time AND going to school full time. I’m just going to school part-time.

Yikes. What do I do with the rest of my time? This has been my journey the past few weeks. And not really even so much about what I do with my time, because I do lots of things – play sports and work out, time with loved ones, hobbies, chores, projects around the house. It’s more about my relationship to what I do with my time.

What is resting, anyway? Is it sitting still? I know about active resting, like going for a walk while practicing mindfulness. But what else? Read a book?

I know that it’s possible to be doing things and also be resting. Walking, reading, doing the dishes. But normally when I’m doing things it’s to do things. So I wanted to try and rest by not DOING things.

I used to watch hours of Netflix when I was depression-exhausted, but if that was rest I think I would have felt rested afterward. I think that was more about avoidance. Blocking out all those painful feelings.

So, one day last week I tried resting by doing nothing. Back when I first started meditating, it was like going into an unfamiliar space, and doing nothing was somewhat similar. I noticed myself thinking about things to do to occupy myself. Avoidance? Trying to get my “fix” by accomplishing something and thereby deriving some kind of value?

I sat on my couch for a while. Thoughts would come to mind about what I could do. I asked myself if I would be doing it for pure enjoyment, would I be present with it? Or would I just be doing it to get it done. Because I believed that I could feel better AFTER it was done. Could I do something just for the sake of doing it?

I managed to wander around the house quite aimlessly for most of the day. When I could mindfully decide to do something while staying in the moment, I did it. A few times I noticed I had wandered off and started doing something, like organizing drawers. Was I doing it because I love to organize drawers? Yes. I love to make labels. I love to get rid of things I’m not going to use, or things that make me feel bad when I look at them.

Sometimes I’d wake up and notice I was checking my email. Why am I checking my email? Do I need to do this, considering I won’t be hearing from the office and nothing is pressing? Am I mindlessly just clicking and tapping on things out of habit? That needs to stop. Take a breath. Return to the moment. Now just be.

Seems weird to practice resting. But hey, it’s just not a skill that I have, and every skill takes practice. No problem. I’ll just keep at it until I start to get a sense of when it feels right, natural. How does it feel to truly rest? I’m not sure. To be at rest with myself, with the way things are.

“There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere.” — J. Krishnamurti

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Do you know how to rest? I need tips! Is this something you also struggle with? I would really like to hear your thoughts and experiences.

3 thoughts on “Do I know how to rest?

    1. Yes, practicing a new skill is full of frustration! I like to do things well, or at least know how to do them well. It’s another thing to allow myself to wander through a new landscape not knowing! Trying not to judge myself or force it to be something unnatural. Having experience with meditation is helping; after all, it is a mindfulness practice of sorts 🙂

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