As I grew up and grew older, I easily put on the cloak of action. There were always places to go, people to see, things to do. Play morphed into school… School morphed into career… Family morphed into being mom…Participation morphed into community service.
Relaxation took on action forms as well. Running. Cooking. Reading. Learning new things. Rest was sleep. Rest and relaxation were a two-hour nap on Sunday afternoon and get-away vacations.
I’m comfortable nested in my cloak of action. Not only have I been doing it for a long time, I thoroughly enjoy it. And, as we all discovered early on, action and its results are positively reinforced.
Unbeknownst to me my nesting began changing. It started simply enough. One evening, I was going over in my mind what I had accomplished that day – where it fit into what needed to be done and how I was progressing on my plans.
And, “out-of-the-blue” I saw a new question. “Did you enjoy the day?” a quiet voice asked? Maybe from all the years of creating success, first in school and then in business, I got so focused on getting to the “results” that I had forgotten to feel the delight in life….
…. Where moments are filled with the joy and passion to be with others, to learn, and bring ideas alive…
…. Where rest and relaxation are not another line on the list, but rather a treasured time to re-connect with myself and all the aspects of life I know, but cannot see.
A few months later, I visited a physician friend. We were talking about the nervous system and the unseen miracles it performs every day. He said “In every moment, our physical bodies assess what’s going on and decide whether we need to get into the action (fight/flight) or take a break from it (rest/digest). This is our natural movement of balance.”
Then, he looked at me, as friends do, with the pointed question “In the midst of all that you are doing, are you honoring your built-in balance for rest and integration?” You know the saying… when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Between the quiet voice in my head and the loving voice of my friend, I saw a new way to live.
That is, action and all my activities get to continue to be full, creatively unknown, and intense. And, they get to be grounded, like a great oak tree standing in its roots, in the broader knowing of life itself. Now when I’m doing daily things – fixing breakfast, working on a project, talking to friends, my intention is to feel the gift of life pulsing through me.
Rest, relaxation and integration have also become more intentional. I have relinquished the urge to count the minutes I meditate, miles I walk, or hours I sleep. Rather, as often as I remember, I feel them as an oasis – a special place for my body to revitalize itself and for my knowing to fall into the warm embrace of grace.
Fortunately, we are all a “play” in progress. And, now, more than ever before, I’m marveling at the “play” that is my life.. with all its twists and turns…opportunities for action…and intermissions for rest and integration. And, I’m amused… “it’s looking good so far.”
We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.
We work with being, but non-being is what we use.
Tao te Ching, #11, Translated by Stephen Mitchell
Thanks for reading!