Tuesday, 29 November 2011
OneWord, one month later: Rest
Other bloggers say they know what I have found out in the last few weeks: In some ways, your OneWord — the one-word resolution that was everywhere a few weeks ago — kind of chooses you. And after it does, it’s like the concept is highlighted in fluorescent yellow every day. Now that you’ve declared it, it keeps bringing itself up.
And here’s what I’ve learned in the few weeks since I chose rest for my One Word 2012: I’m pretty terrible at resting.
As in, I don’t know if I even know how to do it properly. For the intended effect.
Before my work deadlines started looming, I had about a week of calm at the beginning of the year, before the assignments rolled in and I started a new cycle. Ready and… rest!
Can you see the problem already?
I paced. I twittered on the computer, I distracted myself, I busied, I fretted, I made lists in my mind and on paper. Three-quarters of the way through the week, I thought, what am I doing?
The thought I’d been running from floated up: Rest.
Okay, rest. Rest.
How do I do that again?
Because I chose the word, I know it’s something I’m not very good at, or something I need more of, but what I didn’t know was that I barely know how to do it at all.
I think of savasana pose in yoga and how the intention is to let thoughts pass by with no connection, relaxing every muscle you can bring to mind, and just being, as you are, for a few minutes.
Savasana is so difficult because I remain connected to my thoughts. I grab onto them. I try to just watch them pass by but then follow them around desperate, not knowing how to be or who it makes me if I just let them go. By the end of the few minutes of rest, the instructor “brings us back,” and I’m disappointed to realize that I never left my busy mind.
When I chose the word, I said that I can’t really work harder to rest, which is part of the reason why it’s good for me. But I think learning how to rest, to really rest, to let everything go and explore who I am without striving and trying harder, is itself a kind of hard work. It’s a discipline. It requires focus and bringing myself back a hundred times — back to the just being.
It makes me think of practicing the presence of God: when I focus on the ultimate reality that God is here, all around me, sustaining my life, giving me my next breath, every mundane thing around me is illuminated as a stunning gift. And yet, my mind wanders. I forget God a thousand times a day, but all I need is to bring it back a thousand and one, and I’m where I need to be. There, I recognize God in everything, and everything is here because of God.
I think these two — practicing God’s presence and practicing the discipline of rest might be related for me. When I’m resting, I’m practicing the presence of God. When I’m practicing the presence of God, I’m resting in the reality of his love that sustains me.
I hope by the end of the year I can also recognize my OneWord as a gift, because right now it feels overwhelming. But if I had learned all I need to learn by the first part of February, it wouldn’t be a very powerful word, would it?