stretch, eat, nap repeat: on developing a rest ethic
From this dusty chair in the courtyard next to the restaurant, all I can hear are birds chattering and the occasional shouts of hotel staff preparing tonight’s supper.
I have come to Tuscany in the heat of early Summer with the specific intention of ‘risking being disturbed and changed’. Basically, I’m knackered. I have spent the last half a dozen years creating a beautiful business that I am so proud of, that I love, that is my favourite, most fulfilling thing. And I have no off-switch.
The not so comfortable thing is recognising that I have a pretty entrenched belief that my value as a human, is in my work.
This is a big hairy belief, inherited from my proud working-class parents and perpetuated through years of needing to constantly prove myself because external praise has always made me feel safe.
This means I will walk Bohdi each day because he needs exercise, I am not so kind to myself. And I don’t tend to listen to my body’s need for rest. Also: I am not very good at play, I am not really a joiner, am firmly in Hitchens camp when it comes to team sports, and I resist committing to public classes involving creativity or music. Especially if there is a high chance of glitter usage.
It wasn’t until Jac (who sees through my bullshit in the most loving of ways) suggested that maybe I consider what a Rest Ethic might look like.
Not ‘horizontal in front of Netflix covered in Dorito dust’, but my version of rest – something that would allow some spaciousness and freedom between bouts of writing and coaching.
So here I am in Tuscany resting and moving my body at my dear friend Jane’s loving kindness yoga retreat.
Jane has been a yoga teacher for almost 30 years and couldn’t be less interested in the beauty-body-youth-obsessed culture, that has always put me off developing a yoga practice.
Each morning we spend two hours gently stretching, meditating and learning about the philosophy of yoga. Yesterday we practised in a 500-year old wine cellar, this morning we were in an olive grove. We are staying at the only woman-owned and run vineyard in Italy. We eat at an enormous table, the food is made by people who love food and who love taking care of people. Each sitting contains several courses, it all goes on for hours. There is time for us retreaters to get to know each other, to let our conversations flow, to let people unfold themselves.
Essentially, Jane is gifted. This is as idyllic as it sounds.
My mind constantly wanders to all the writing I thought I would get done (nb: not one word written), I think about the new programme I am shaping and forming, I worry about Bohdi at doggy daycare and if he is ok. I miss Ash.
Actually being HERE is a whole other thing.
I arrived four days ago and I am starting to slow down, to let my heart open and allow Mama Italy scoop me up in her warm arms.
I’m leaving my phone switched off, setting aside specific times to check in on work, to respond to urgent emails, to allow myself time to meditate in the mornings and evenings, to nap, to swim, to eat.
I’m practising deep presence to Jane’s teachings, to be in my body and all its humbling glory.
I’m noticing that when I allow myself to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ it is so much easier to be loving and kind to myself.
I’m noticing there is not a hell of a lot for me to do here. Stretch, eat, nap, repeat.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
~ John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us
Hello, I'm Sas Petherick. I'm a self-doubt researcher, coach and podcaster who helps thinking humans transcend self-doubt. If you'd like to receive these posts in your inbox please subscribe here (with bonus info and first notice of opportunities to work with me). PS: I totally ♥ Instagram - join me there?