“Rest! What do you mean rest!” I felt a wave of resistance well up. “I don’t even know what that means! Rest?”
Over two months ago, after I finally put an end to an insane relationship, one filled with deception on a scale I had never encountered, I began feeling the inner Voice strongly nudging me to rest. This Voice has many names–intuition, voice of God, gut feeling, and the still small voice to name only a few.
I have always heard this Voice, or this inner compass, to some extent, but after my first major mystical experience many years ago, it became much clearer. Over the last few months this Voice has become a bit different: I hear it almost all the time and it’s now both louder and softer if that’s possible. It fills me with joy, and after the hell I went through over the last several years, I have learned to trust it implicitly. I now walk with my ear pressed against its bosom, not wanting to go a moment without hearing its whispers. It has become a dear and constant companion, a true and trusted friend, my confidant, and guide in all ways. It is the same inner compass that abides within each of us and its language is joy (and allota humor).
The end of this relationship was the caboose to a much longer period filled with deep challenges as well as very profound spiritual experiences. My entire life had been flattened in a way that was unprecedented. I was badly in need of a lift so I was now listening to this Voice more intently and what I often heard was to rest. I wasn’t even quite sure what this meant, but I listened. As it turns out I was in desperate need of a rest enlargement.
How did I know it was that inner compass and to trust it? Because even on the heels of a relationship that sent shock waves through my life like I’ve never known, as well as other very deep challenges, and even while appearances were screaming that I should do anything but rest, it felt sublimely warm, cozy, safe, and in every way okay and permissible to just rest. It felt deeply right. (I’ll be writing many more posts in the near future on how to discern and listen to your inner compass.)
Sometimes Ya Just Need A Nap
To my surprise, at first I actually found myself taking long naps, and even had days where I quite literally could not keep my eyes open and slept until late afternoon. It wasn’t a feeling of depression, but more a feeling of relaxing into something much larger than I formerly knew. Like a little babe that, nestled in the arms of her mother, knows it’s safe to just sleep and be cared for.
I began to see support for this idea of resting everywhere–in books, in seminars, in conversations–but I was still unsure of its exact meaning. Nevertheless, I felt that I was being given permission to rest. It’s not that I didn’t see the dust bunnies cascading across the room like tumble weeds or the piles of dirty laundry. I would feel a momentary impulse to clean them but that inner nudge to rest would win out. (My arm didn’t need to be twisted too far where the laundry was concerned.)
Then without warning, I would find myself effortlessly moving from one household chore to another. I would start dusting with no plans of doing anything else, but soon I was pushing the vacuum around. Again, with no plans of doing anything beyond that, I would then find myself washing clothes. This would go on for some time; seamlessly going from one activity to another. And then just as quickly as it started, it would just stop, and I would go back to resting.
The same was happening with my work as a spiritual teacher and writer; sometimes I wouldn’t even make it out of my pajamas before a flurry of activity would come swooping in. There were phone calls for help, emails to answer, ideas would flood in for the blog and for the book, as well as other activities. Often it was late afternoon before I knew it, and then it would just come to a complete halt…calm again and more rest. I rested and trusted, and rested some more.
Your Inner Compass Wants to Carry You
When we listen to this inner compass, we are no longer relying on our own understanding. We are not looking to what we think needs to be done or not done according to what we think we need or even want. We are being carried when we listen to this Voice. I began to see that this “rest” had little to do with whether I was sleeping or there was a flood of activity; in both cases I was resting because in both I was being carried. I was no longer the one doing, deciding, or guiding but was being moved.
Our inner compass doesn’t just want to point us in the right direction it wants to carry us as well. Living in a state of true rest is one where we lie back and are willing to be moved by the gentle current found in this inner Voice of Joy. It’s where we stop trying to swim our self, according to what we think is best, or by our own efforts; we begin to relax our arms and legs and let it take us. It directs us and does the work. We become the beholder rather than the doer even when we appear to be doing a lot.
This cannot be done without trust. Few of us would be willing to let something carry us that we didn’t trust–that would make little sense. This trust is developed through practice and by seeing that any other approach is an attempt to swim against the current. Let’s face it, swimming against an omnipotent current is pretty futile and just leaves us banged up. At best, we’re left panting, heart racing, and exhausted, and realize that we’ve been swimming like mad but have gone nowhere. It looks downright silly if we’re able laugh through our tears. Understandably, we become more and more willing to listen and to be carried, and as we do this we learn through our own experience, for we are led in ways that are joyful. We also learn that when we don’t listen, we get nowhere and it plain hurts.
As it turns out “rest” is the practice of allowing ourself to be carried in whatever way that looks. We take our hands off the wheel. We become the adored and precious little child, the babe that is being lovingly cradled. It is to be in a state of rest where we are not the doer even when much is being done.
My new rest enlargement has implanted some really huge rest!
With that, I think I’ll take a little nappy.