Red Deer Physiotherapist Writes:
What is rest? There are varied definitions of the word “rest”. It is defined by Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “a freedom of activity or labour” and “a state of motionlessness or inactivity” when used as a noun. As a verb it is defined as “to give rest” or “to stop using (something) so that it can become strong again”. Interestingly enough it is also defined as “to be free from anxiety or disturbance”.
So when we talk rest…what does it mean to you?
In my field as a physiotherapist, rest can be as many things as the number of people that walk in the door. For instance, “rest” after a broken bone (#fracture) can mean a sling, a cast or brace. “Rest” after a serious accident could mean complete motionlessness for a period of time in an Intensive Care Unit so that the body can find the deeper state of recovery needed to rebuild.
For athletes, “rest” is often active recovery. What is active recovery? In it’s simplest terms, it is a lighter activity day, week, or season. In comparison to their regular intensity of training, it is essentially a rest. The body maintains a significant level of fitness, health and wellness. It allows the elite athlete to rebuild, restore and rejuvenate. The body’s reserve of stored energy resources is “topped up” and they are ready to make gains again when intense training resumes.
The rest that is often overlooked is the last category that I mentioned. To “be free from anxiety or disturbance”…in our highly scheduled lives, how many of us can say we are free mentally, emotionally or spiritually? Being physically at rest is completely irrelevant to a state of mental/emotional/spiritual rest or freedom. Some of the most successful people I know are able to find contentment and “rest” while maintaining a very physically “busy” life.
Practicing the art of quieting the mind by starting with a stillness of the body is not to be taken lightly. It has foundations that run deeper than all the science we have in this century that proves its validity. Starting with physical stillness, with the intention of quieting the mind, can be quite powerful when it is combined with breathing techniques, meditation, prayer, mantras, music, rhythms, etc. Practicing this while the body is still enables us to eventually transfer that skill into our moments of physical movement, work, concentration and performance.
So the next time you think of taking “rest”… think of what it means to you. Think of what you plan to accomplish with that rest period, whether short or long. It may be to sleep where you are, with complete abandon (as is demonstrated by the accompanying photo!)…or it may be to stand outside, bare feet on the grass, breathing the fresh air, feeling the wind on your face, filling your thoughts and soul with gratitude for being able to experience that moment for yourself in sharp contrast to the world spinning around you.