I saw this image and quote by famed graffiti artist and political activist, Banksy, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I explored personal ecology in another blog post, but Rest seems to deserve its own exploration.

In a culture that prizes productivity, self-care becomes another thing to check off our “to-do” list. While our idea of what constitutes self-care has expanded, it still always seems to imply an action; we often talk about how we “practice” self-care. I love this list of self-care tips from Tiny Buddha, but the closest anything comes to Rest on this list, is to “be still.”

So, what is Rest? While my google search of self-care offered countless ideas, a similar search of Rest didn’t give me much more than a definition and is most closely connected to sleeping. Although I’m a big fan of sleeping, it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. The most significant thing I noted was that Rest definitely implies an absence, either of activity or thought.

In other words, Rest means being, not doing.

I don’t know about you, but there always seems to be a million things for me to attend to, and every day I am inundated with all the things that are wrong in the world. People are hurting and things just feel so broken, it makes me want to do something about it, which is great. It means I haven’t lost my passion for wanting to make change. But what I don’t always have is energy, or fresh ideas, or the emotional capacity to face one more hard thing.

Although Rest may seem counter-intuitive to making change in the world, the irony is that it may actually give us the wherewithal to not just keep going, but to energize our passions and our spirits.

In my research on Rest, I turned to poet and author, David Whyte. What I found, was insightful and validating. Here are a few quotes:

“Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be.”

“To rest is not self-indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves…”

“Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember and someone others would want to remember too.”

I recommend reading the rest of the excerpt here.

I’m definitely still in the learning process when it comes to Rest. Inactivity is often accompanied by feelings of shame for me. And maybe that’s really the key, because when I am able to shake off those feelings, Rest feels like something to savor, like a delicious meal that nourishes my entire being.