When we’re walking a spiritual path, there can be so much emphasis on action. Movement. Momentum. Doing. We could be reading a spiritual text for insight, enlightenment, or comfort. We could be in ritual for a specific event on our spiritual calendar. Or we could be actively pursuing our spirituality in some form of community aid. Even in meditation, there can be a tendency to be actively doing something — whether it be contemplating a particular value or character trait, or linking with a particular focus. And I’m noticing this more and more: that even meditations can have a reason rather than just simply sitting and being.
But y’know what? My favourite meditations are the ones that don’t have a reason, and don’t have a focus. The ones that rely solely on stilling, on sitting and being with myself, and letting all the emotions and thoughts just exist, not attaching anything to them. Just breathing. Quietly and softly, eyes closed, body relaxed.
For a long time, my favourite rituals and solitary circle work have been simply sitting and being, basking in the connection with the Goddess and God.
Moon gazing. Cloud watching. Standing in the rain. Leaning against a tree, feeling bark-to-back. Dozing in a chair, cat(s) on my knee. Reclining in the bath, breathing long and deep. Lying in bed, all snuggled up. Sitting quietly, relaxed, easy. Needing nothing more.
See, there’s a sacredness in rest. A coming home. An embodiment of doing nothing, with great compassion.
I don’t quite know when it became fashionable to be busy. I’m not sure when this transitioned over to spirituality either — that we must be active in our spirituality, or we’re “not doing it right”. Suddenly there’s activities for every aspect of spirituality, for every kind of spiritual practice, and there’s those who would have you believe that each of these could be a shortcut to enlightenment or that you have no responsibility for your spiritual path unless you’re active on it.
Well, I call bull to that.
The most accessible form of spiritual practice is getting quiet. Slowing down. Stilling. It can be done anywhere, anytime, for as long or as little as you want. It can be done alone, or in groups. It needs no special setup or tools or bells and whistles. It just needs you. And there’s this thing that happens when we slow down and get quiet: we rest.
Our bodies stop needing to be someplace. Our minds reduce their traction. Our breathing regulates. Everything slows down and relaxes.
Now, let’s be clear here: I’m not talking about sleep. I’m talking about just being quiet. About taking that pause for breath. That moment when you can tune into yourself again amongst all the hubbub and noise. That’s it. That’s the simplest form of rest there is.
Of course, this then provides good foundations for other forms of rest, the big one being sleep. Or there’s a cup of tea. A cuddle. A few minutes connecting with a favourite animal. Snuggling with your honey, or a beloved child. Now, these could be seen as doing things, but — like much else on the path — it’s the intent that matters here. We need to ask ourselves whether we are taking this time to rest, or whether we are actively doing something for doing something’s sake. Dozing on a chair with cats can be resting, or it can be actively taking a moment to mentally plan the next blog post (ahem). Mediation could be resting or it could be focusing on something specific.
We need to get real with the sacredness of rest. The authenticity of it. That rest is all it is — all, and so much more. It gives us time to re-find our balance, to get back into hara if we need it. To listen to ourselves, to our bodies, to what we want and feel and need, rather than what everyone else — what society — dictates we want or feel or need. Taking that all-important pause in our day — whether it’s just for five seconds, or five minutes, or an hour — can help us keep calm and aligned to our truths. Being mindful of resting, of allowing periods of grace into our day, rather than rushing from one task to the next to the next — and then allowing that busy-ness into our spiritual practice as well — can work miracles. Try it. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Let the sacred in.
Bloom, W. (2011). The Power of Modern Spirituality: How to Live a Life of Compassion and Personal Fulfilment. London: Piatkus.
Campbell, R. (2015). Light is the New Black: A Guide to Answering your Soul’s Callings and Working your Light. London: Hay House.
Huffington, A. (2015). Thrive. London: WH Allen.
Nepo, Mark (2014). The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be. New York: Simon & Schuster.