April 16 Resting in the River


This Monday night, Mary will facilitate.  She shares:


Tonight I would like to explore with you the importance of rest to heal our body and our mind. What should be simpler than resting? Just be still and heal. Right. Not so easy. I remember never enjoying nap time in kindergarten. I always had something more fun in mind to be doing. What is that something driving me to keep on doing? As hard as I try, my habit energy pops up with yet something else that needs to be done even if it might be just creating something fun 'to do'. Just being seems more challenging and difficult to achieve than just doing. Do we lack permission from ourselves and our culture to 'be'? Does it not feel good enough or worthy enough to simply be? I was recently prescribed 15 minutes daily of the yoga corpse pose/shavasana by my doctor. A prescription to rest. Interesting and challenging. I don't manage it everyday. Maybe it's why I've been drawn to meditation and yoga and silence since my early 20's. Maybe deep inside, my highest wisdom knows how desperately I need to rest and just be quiet -- and meditation and yoga offer such tools and silence is the container. Sanctioned times and space where I can rest, be calm and quiet-- and not feel guilty that I need to be doing something else. When I think of my mother, my father, and my grandparents, I see this same energy of doing, of restlessness, of struggling...how many lifetimes back has this energy accumulated? Now there is a lot of outside encouragement to do. Maybe the outside voice drowns out the quieter inner voice, that's waiting to for its turn, waiting to be listened to and followed. And it's not only western culture. I've seen it in people in so many parts of the world.


Thich Nhat Hahn expounds on this subject in his teaching Resting in the River:


"Resting is a very important practice; we have to learn the art of resting. Resting is the first part of Buddhist meditation. You should allow your body and your mind to rest. Our mind as well as our body needs to rest. The problem is that not many of us know how to allow our body and mind to rest. We are always struggling; struggling has become a kind of habit. We cannot resist being active, we struggle all the time. We even struggle in our sleep.


It is very important to realize that we have the habit energy of struggling. We have to be able to recognize a habit when it manifests itself because if we know how to recognize our habit, it will lose its energy and will not be able to push us anymore.


We have to practice in order to be able to transform this habit in us. The habit of struggle has become a powerful source of energy that is shaping our behavior, our actions and our reactions.


When an animal in the jungle is wounded, it knows how to find a quiet place, lie down and do nothing. The animal knows that is the only way to get healed-to lay down and just rest, not thinking of anything, including hunting and eating. Not eating is a very wonderful way of allowing your body to rest. We are so concerned about how to get nutrition that we are afraid of resting, of allowing our body to rest and to fast. The animal knows that it does not need to eat. What it needs is to rest, to do nothing, and that is why its health is restored."


In our consciousness there are wounds also, lots of pains. Our consciousness also needs to rest in order to restore itself. Our consciousness is just like our body. Our body knows how to heal itself if we allow it the chance to do so. When we get a cut on our finger we don't have to do anything except to clean it and to allow it the time to heal, because our body knows how to heal itself. The same thing is true with our consciousness; our consciousness knows how to heal itself if we know how to allow it to do so. But we don't allow it. We always try to do something. We worry so much about healing, which is why we do not get the healing we need. Only if we know how to allow them to rest can our body and our soul heal themselves.


But there is in us what we call the energy of restlessness. We cannot be at peace with ourselves. We cannot be peaceful. We cannot sit; we cannot lie down. There is some energy in us to do this, to do that, to think of this, to think of that, and that kind of restlessness makes us unhappy. That is why it is so important for us to learn first of all to allow our body to rest. We have to learn how to deal with all our energy of restlessness. That is why we have to learn these techniques of allowing our body and our consciousness to rest."


If you care to read more, this Lion Roar online offering includes this teaching and a pertinent introduction: Click here.


Before coming on Monday, please take time to reflect on some questions:

  • When you fall sick in your body, have you looked into your mind/consciousness to see what is there?
  • Does resting come easily for you or do you have to push yourself to rest?
  • What helps you to seek the rest you need to rejuvenate and heal?

I look forward to seeing you on Monday night and learning from what you would like to share.