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Have we forgotten how to truly rest?

I used to be a prolific list maker; tasks, to-do’s & endless tick-offs were a key part of the way I organised my life - and a continual source of bemusement among my family and friends.

‘Mummy, why do you always make yourself so busy?” my daughter would say to me as she watched me add an unattainable number of items to my Iphone notes.

It seems totally crazy to me now, but I would even add some prompts for 'relaxation' to my To-Do list, such as ‘do some reading for pleasure’ or ‘listen to an audiobook.’

Ridiculous, right? And the perfunctory nods to rest or relaxation on my list were usually the things that never got ticked off!

I wore my busy-ness like a badge of honour.

Then a few years ago, as part of a Meditation course during my YTT, I was offered the opportunity to attend a training in Satyananda Yoga Nidra. From the first explanation of what it actually was, I realised that I hadn’t felt truly rested in years and would probably be headed for burnout if something didn’t change.

In the words of Swami Satyananda Saraswati in his ground-breaking book offering the instruction of Yoga Nidra first published in 1976;

“Yoga Nidra is a powerful technique in which you learn to relax consciously. In yoga nidra, sleep is not regarded as relaxation. People feel that they are relaxing when they collapse in an easy chair with a cup of coffee, a drink or a cigarette & read a newspaper or switch on the television. But this will never suffice as a scientific definition of relaxation. These are only sensory diversions. True relaxation is actually an experience far beyond all this. For absolute relaxation, you must remain aware.”

The importance of deep rest - the kind of rest that completely rebalances your body physiologically while calming & stilling your mind - is almost completely lost in this digital age - and even more profoundly so since this book was first written.

Today, in our over-stimulated environments, over-filled with multiple devices, communication channels, endless notifications & excessive content for consumption, we think we are relaxing while scrolling on our phones, lying on the sofa with Netflix on the telly.

Meanwhile, neuroscientists have published EEG images of our brains lit up like flashing Christmas trees showing our overworked neuro-receptors trying to process the bombardment of sound, words & images. It's quite scary to see and is in no way mentally, emotionally or physiologically restful! In fact, this neurological state of being can lead us into ever-heightened states of anxiety as the dopamine hits of social media 'clicks' then dump us down into a feeling of depression as our system tries desperately to rebalance & bring us back into homeostasis.

We have all these sensory diversions only a click away, and it's all too easy to fall down a 'scroll hole' when we pick up our phones. We may well have intended to hop onto the Headspace app for a guided meditation, but we find ourselves an hour later scrolling through Instagram and wondering if we should buy that new eyelash serum, answering an email or signing up for an online 'Stop Procrastinating' course. Oh the irony...

Does this resonate with you?

On our ‘Rediscover Your Glow’ Yoga & Mindfulness retreat in Lefakada in June, we will be going on a journey that blends movement & stillness to find true calmness, peacefulness & deep relaxation, which in turn enhances clarity of the mind, uncovers a renewed sense of purpose & passion while increasing our mental resilience.

The movement part of this journey is of course rooted in our asana practice, as the body & breath unite and we strengthen & connect to our physical self with kindness & a deeper sense of self-awareness.

The stillness part of the experience will be found in a daily guided meditation practice using creative visualisation & mindfulness techniques to soothe & slow the mind & allow us to 'press pause' on the relentless internal chatter. Our evening practice will be a Yin-style stretch & mindful movement, calming breathwork with music, mantra and the magical benefits of Yoga Nidra.

These morning & evening practices will anchor your sense of calmness & nourishing restfulness, but be assured that we won’t be insisting you abandon your phones entirely; we believe that you just might find that you naturally choose to switch off & enjoy a more mindful approach to relaxation.

Complete, nourishing, rebalancing rest has now become a crucial element of a comprehensive Self Care practice. We need to learn to not only understand & honour this, but also to equip ourselves with the tools to actually achieve it, for the sake of our mental, physiological & spiritual self.

Because when you give yourself the time and space to put down the To-Do lists, truly rest & turn inwards, you will discover that the stillness speaks to you - and you will be amazed at what you can then hear...


JUNE 16 - 22



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