Reframing REST

by | Mar 15, 2017 | Emotional Freedom, New this month, Yoga

[clickToTweet tweet=”My body is so very confused by this time change thing. ” quote=”My body is so very confused by this time change thing. “]

I feel like I am trying to explain these new sandbox rules to a small child (which, of course, the body is – in one way or another), and she just cannot make sense of them at all.

Of course, the absurdity of time change doesn’t escape my analytical mind either.

So today, I want to talk to you about rest.

I grew up in a family that emphasized productivity; in the culture where idling was equated if not to crime, then definitely to a fault of character, and one didn’t dare to have any character faults at the time…

Over the years, I, of course, internalized these ideas. Productivity has become my king, my castle, and my go to for whatever life had thrown at me.

Intellectually I understood the value of rest; viscerally, driven by my parents example and these deep beliefs about activity and productivity, I kept going even if and when I was utterly exhausted.
“Feeling bad? Get busy!” and “Work till your nose bleeds” were both my slogan words and driving force.

At some point I recognized that this productivity habit was tinged with both disassociation and compulsion: emotional numbness – the shutdown state – was accompanied by a frenzied activity, not unlike that of an addict. I grasped at activity even if I didn’t need to.

Those of you familiar with productivity addiction wouldn’t be surprised to hear that

[clickToTweet tweet=”I also very much believed that this was the right way to be. ” quote=”I also very much believed that this was the right way to be. “]

I prized my ability to function in the face of incredible challenges.

This is who I was.

This is what I was proud of.

It took a lot of internal work – including UN-earthing these self-destructive behavior patterns – to actually appreciate and internalize the value of rest.

It all started with a simple exercise during last fall’s Mindfulness Immersion Weekend: we were asked to identify where we in the body we felt love and joy.



Love and joy had no place in my body.

I was at the time going through a particularly difficult time with my family, and as usual, I have shut down.
Again, intellectually I was sharp and on the ball – or so I thought – until I really, really, REALLY wasn’t.

I have shut down in order not to feel my heart breaking, and in the process, I’ve shut out love, and joy, and everything that was beautiful in my life. It took almost an inhuman amount of effort and tension to maintain the appearance of “business as usual.” I wasn’t aware of this, either –  I dis-embodied so much that I literally couldn’t feel my body breaking down.

That was a scary insight…

Ok, scary is a bit of an understatement. I felt pure terror, and I had no clue how to tame that beast.

I write all of this because over the months that I spent exploring dark corners of the psyche, I’ve shared these experiences with many of my clients. What I heard back is ” yes, I feel the same way. yes, I operate in the same way” – often from those who struggle with persistent pain. I don’t believe that is even a little bit of a coincidence.

This scary insight served as a reset button in my recovery from productivity addiction, the habit of disassociating from my body and its needs, and my nervous system’s instinct to guard. It also provided a profound – almost quantum leap – toward better understanding myself, my body, and the process of healing.

This wired and tired state – something that used to be my modus operandi for years – has a particularly damaging effect on someone with a sensitive nervous system; yet, many a sensitive folk seem to have a strange propensity toward it.

Why do I mention a sensitive nervous system?

Most of us who live with persistent pain have a sensitive nervous system: on one hand, having a sensitive nervous system predisposes us for chronic pain (and insomnia, and digestive disorders, to name a few), on the other hand, having chronic pain further sensitizes the nervous system.

Take a test here to discover if your NS is sensitive.

Sensitive nervous system folk are particularly – well, sensitive – to changes in our environment – be it weather fluctuation or time change. This is why I am writing about rest today: I want to invite you to be especially soft, and tender, and kind to yourself this week, and to drive slowly over this time change speed bump.

For those of us who have been blessed with a sensitive nervous system (yes, it can be a blessing – more on that later!) deep rest is both imperative and hard to access. Here is a snippet of Savasana (end-of-class deep relaxation pose) – we’ve recorded this audio during February’s HIPS AND PELVIC FLOOR REHAB (just a note here: some class noise is still present as this was a live recording.)

I hope that it can serve as REST RESET button for you this week – sometimes guided practice (in one way or another) is all we need to redefine rest.

Why recovering rest is so important?
It is way, way, waaaaaay beyond tissue repair.
More on that next week: we’ll talk how pain and insomnia can be lagging indicators, and take a look at Pain Care Yoga practice of challenging ourselves mindfully, rather than recklessly (hint: you can’t challenge yourself mindfully if you don’t know where your nervous system baseline is).

Have a wonderful day!

Hey, my name is Julia

Living with chronic pain has taught me to look for solutions in unlikely places –  places where most people see only problems.

Over the years I’ve gotten to be pretty good at this problem-solving and silver-lining finding thing.

So good that I felt compelled to share what I’ve learned and help others to find their sea legs while navigating, living, and winning their battle with chronic pain.