I grew up near the jungles of Panama, and one of my favorite memories is waking up before my family and listening to the jungle come alive. The monkeys, birds and insects all whispered, hummed, screamed and howled as I absorbed the life around me. I didn’t have to go far to have an adventure, I just had to pay attention.
As I have grown older and life has gotten busier I often forget to make time to just sit and listen to the sounds of the world. Yet paying attention to my surroundings helps me get connected and feel part of a bigger picture. What’s even more difficult than paying attention to my environment is taking time to pay attention to myself.
Most of us spend our days running from one project to another – working, taking care of kids, driving, exercising, adventuring or planning our next adventure. By the time we hit the bed we haven’t even thought about or listened to the whispers of our own bodies – until we have pain or discomfort that screams and howls in a way we can’t ignore. Taking time to rest just isn’t on the to-do list.
WHAT’S EVEN MORE DIFFICULT THAN PAYING ATTENTION TO MY ENVIRONMENT IS TAKING TIME TO PAY ATTENTION TO MYSELF.
I have found that each of us has our own inner jungle that we can listen to and notice, but we have to take the time for it. The best part about resting is, we give ourselves a chance to reconnect to our true dreams and aspirations. We give ourselves an opportunity to reset ourselves instead of being swayed by the demands and desires of our bosses, co-workers, family and friends. Resting gives us a chance to just be.
So how often do you check in with yourself and ask, “How am I doing? How do I feel? Do I like being this busy? Do I want more out of life? Or is everything just perfect except this nagging neck or back pain?”
As a body worker I love stretching, moving and dancing when I have a discomfort that I am trying to work out. When things go really wrong in my body or my life I go back to the basics and my absolute favorite resting position. The position allows me to give in to gravity. This one posture allows my nervous, muscular and skeletal systems to rest.
At the same time, the rest position allows me to listen to the whispers, the hums, the screams and the howls that I have been ignoring. As I lay in the rest position, something else happens; all the pieces of me – the mother, the body worker, the friend, the wife – dissolve and I feel childlike again. I am left with a sense of wonder. Here is the place where I can enter an adventure into my own being.
1. Put a pillow under your knees with your feet flat on the bed or floor. Or bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor without the pillow. Hold your upper body up with your elbows.
2. Lower yourself slowly, vertebra by vertebra, imagining that each vertebra has space from the one below. You can use your elbows to help elongate your spine.
3. Place a pillow or towel under your head if need be. Optimally, you want your face to be parallel to the floor.
4. Check that you have a small gap between your lower back and the bed or floor. If this gap is too large or nonexistant then you are not resting but creating more tension by overarching your spine or over-tucking your pelvis. The key is to relax.
5. Place your hands on your chest or belly to remind yourself to rest downwards toward the center of the earth, giving in to gravity. You can either leave your hands on your belly or place them palms up by your sides.
6. Allow yourself to exhale, releasing any extra tension or stress that you have built up through the day.
7. If you find yourself obsessing about the day, or a situation, or a pain that you may have, wiggle your toes and fingers and take a deep breath exhaling the thought away. Breathe and repeat.
The rest pose can be used anytime to help you reset or fall asleep. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with yourself and elongate your spine at the same time. You may find yourself zoning out into a beautiful space where you can experience an adventure into the jungle of your own being.
Luca Williams is a certified rolfer in Glacier. She helps snowboarders, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts get aligned and out of pain. Website: lucasrolfing.com Blog: movingwithgravity.wordpress.com