I read an article today about the lost art of true rest. It struck a chord with me. Because just this week, something’s been nagging at me. Even though I’m a big supporter of not doing too much, taking proper breaks, resting when you need to rather than powering through – I’m starting to feel as though every second of my working day is filled with something.
Yesterday as I went to work, walked around at lunch, walked home, walked to the gym, walked back, prepared a snack, cooked, tidied up, got ready for bed – during all those moments I was listening to podcasts.
Now, I’m the biggest fan of podcasts. But sometimes as I walk along I feel as though I have a thought trying to push through. On the whole I’m quite good at stopping the podcast to have a think. But I’ve started listening to a new BBC drama series which is seriously spooky and gripping. So I’m racing through the episodes. And it’s bringing with it a sense of urgency. Yesterday I felt that I was pushing down those thoughts trying to come up. And actually it means I’m not giving myself thinking space when I need it.
In this article the writer talks about a few types of ‘real rest’, and one of them is to walk outside in nature without a device. That struck me, as I pretty much always stick a podcast on when I’m walking outside. There’s just so much to take in and get through…
And I realise that’s not necessarily a good thing…feeling like you need to get through stuff. That list of podcast episodes piling up, all the tv shows coming out that I’m adding to my mental to watch list, and I’m wondering when I’m going to find the time to watch them all. All the books I’m desperate to read and want to ‘get through’.
It’s all mental clutter isn’t it? It’s all gentle pressure, adding to that feeling of always being on, always doing.
I so rarely just walk along quietly, not listening to a podcast. Just taking in the sounds of the park, the birds, the city sounds in the background.
The other day I was waiting in a little courtyard to meet a friend for a cup of tea. I went out with my tea, and just…sat. I looked up at the sky, and sipped my tea. I felt the coolness of the air and listened to the sounds around me. I let myself think whatever random thoughts I was having. When my friend arrived, she joked that she didn’t want to disturb me, I looked so peaceful. She was right. That’s a proper rest. Not doing anything other than sipping a tea and thinking.
So I’m going to try and do that more often. Sit without any distractions. Step outside without plugging into a podcast from time to time. My aim is to delete all but around three podcast episodes so that I don’t always have this long list to scroll through and make decisions about. I can always add something back in if I really want to listen to it. But I feel the need to ease back on the clutter a bit.
PS After I finished writing this article I went to leave the flat. I automatically reached to put my headphones in…and took them out again. I told myself that I could at least try starting my walk without a podcast. If I felt desperate I could always plug in. And do you know what, I survived. And it was really nice. The little voice in my head was free to chatter away, with time and space to do so. I arrived at work feeling calm and ready to go.
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