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Allowing Rest

As I write this, I notice how physically and emotionally drained I feel.  I stared at the blank screen on my computer for a good twenty five minutes, waiting for my muse to visit me.  Nothing.  I look out the window at the dark night, the barely there outlines of the tree branches and leaves against the black sky.  I listen to the sound of two English bulldogs snoring at my feet, their wrinkled faces deep in rest, not a tense muscle or bone in their bodies.

It is night, and they have fully and completely surrendered to sleep.  For a brief moment, I realize my fatigue, and wish I could rest the way these dogs rest.

What makes rest so difficult?  For me, there is a pervasive internal drive to push, keep going, despite the wiser voices within me.  Whether it is helping my patients, taking care of my children, doing housework, or even my writing, there is a nudging hand in the small of my back, constantly inching me forward.  More, more, more. Try harder, work longer, say yes.

This made sense when I was growing up, was adaptive even.  Continuous study without questioning why or for how long, got me through years of education and training to become a physician.  I kept my head down and marched forward, one exam, paper, diploma at a time.

But looking back, I wonder of the value in that approach.  Years of my life were lost in an academic haze, and completely of my own doing.  If I could do it all over again, I would have stopped more often.  I would have taken a more scenic route.  I would have taken time off for spontaneous road trips.  I would have taken English literature classes and talked to strangers and stayed up all night just to watch the sun rise.  At the time, I didn’t trust that a circuitous path like that would have led me to my final goal of being a doctor.  Or perhaps, I didn’t trust that I knew how to have both–a brilliant, fully lived life, and academic success and achievement.

Today, a brilliant, fully lived life looks a little different for me than it did then.  It means allowing myself to stop pushing so hard, so that I can appreciate all of the undeveloped, unnoticed beauty exactly where I am.  It means resting long enough to not feel overwhelmed by exhaustion, or enveloped by my irritability, such that I can’t notice the liquid chocolate of my son’s eyes, or the sleepy weight of my daughter as I lift her from bed every morning.  It means allowing myself to close my phone and my computer an hour before bedtime, and feel the scratch of my pen scrawling words and images across the pages of my journal.  Now, a fully lived life means reading a book and drifting off into a blissful nap on a Saturday afternoon.

Resting now means telling myself that I am enough–exactly as I am.  I don’t need to have more and I don’t need to be more, because I am enough.  We are all enough.  And we are enough, not because of what we do, what we accomplish, what we look like, or what we earn.  We are enough because of our beating hearts, our accordion lungs, and our evolving souls.

It is trust in this abundance, and in ourselves, that will finally allow us to surrender to resting here, in this present moment, just as it is, just as we are.

So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in finally allowing yourself to rest, whatever that looks like right now in your world.

With gratitude, Monisha

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