Always tired? Go ahead, be lazy.
Take a moment to check in with yourself. Do you have all the energy you need to enjoy life? Do you crash on your days off from work? Or do you worry that if you try to level-up your life that you won’t have the energy you need to sustain your growth?
If this resonates with you it may be a sign that you are ready to master a critical skill: intentional rest.
Most of us think of resting as the time we spend sleeping or chilling on the couch binge-watching Netflix. But what if you had a way to rest that filled up your energy more quickly? How much more could you enjoy life if you built a short practice that helped you feel refreshed? This is where intentional rest can be your new fav thing!
In this episode you’ll hear a few examples of how the panther-like cat Kyla and the high-energy dog Zoë can teach us lessons in how to power up efficiently and effectively.
Here are two ways for you to practice the art of intentional rest today:
1. Take an energy gathering walk. Spending time in nature is a great way to bring balance to our bodies and also nourish our spirt. This walk is the opposite of a power walk. Your goal is to walk slowly, activate your senses, connect with the sights and sounds, and take time to notice your surroundings. It’s like filling up your battery with a charge from nature!
It’s pretty easy: go outside. Walk slowly. Gather sunlight, fresh air, and beauty. Allow this to nourish every cell of your being!
2. Practice deep relaxation or yoga nidra. This is a simple practice you can do daily to help train yourself into relaxation. Sometimes you may feel like you want a little bit of guidance to relax. It can be really freeing to find a comfy spot to lay down and listen to a recording and let it guide you to a deeper state of relaxation. You’ll also be training yourself in the art of active rest, so that you have this skill for yourself to use while falling asleep or taking a quick nap.
Here’s a few links to get you started with deep relaxation:
Click here to get my full guided relaxation. My students love this one! You’ll get thirty minutes of good rest and totally feel ready to enjoy your day!
Click here for a ten-minute relaxation for when you need a quick power-down to power-up!
Another super-awesome resource is Yoga Nidra Network. They are doing great work and have lots of free tracks! Check them out at yoganidranetwork.org
There are other deep relaxations on YouTube and also on the iTunes store. It’s all about finding a voice and style that works for you!
Let’s start a revolution and get rested!
Om shanthi, peace to you,
Hey guys and welcome to the Gita Brown Show, bringing harmony into everyday life. I'm Gita and I'm so excited that you're here today because today we are talking to you, my friend who is constantly exhausted and constantly tired and I, today, am giving you permission to be lazy. So I'm Gita. I help people from all walks of life understand how to develop a holistic lifestyle so that they can live peaceful, healthy, joyful, and creative lives. I've been a musician and a yoga teacher for about 30 years now and I have learned a lot about health, wellness, taking care of yourself. I have made a ton of mistakes and I've sort of tried to distill the best of what I know down for you into simple, actionable things that you can do today to feel better. So I'm going to give you a little new way to think about some things.
I'm going to tell you a few stories about my beloved animals, my dogs, and my cats. And now I'm going to give you some takeaways in different ways to think about how you can shift your relationship to being constantly tired all the time and hopefully give you a little permission on how to be lazy so that you can be more productive.
So let's do a little check in really quick. Check in with yourself wherever you are. Do you have all of the energy you need? Do you have all the energy you need to work? Do you have all the energy you need to play and enjoy your time off? Or are you crashing and bottoming out on your days off? Do you constantly feel overwhelmed or maybe you are actually firing on all cylinders and feeling really good but feel like, "Man, what if I could kick it up to another level? But could I actually sustain that? I think that might burn me out, so I'm a little, I'm not trying that next thing for myself because I feel like if I do, I'm not going to have the energy to sustain it."
If you're in any one of those categories or somewhere in between, these can all be signs that you are ready to master a critical skill and you know they say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. So I am here appearing in front of you for a reason. I am here to teach you today and talk about and to challenge your thinking about intentional rest.
Okay, so you can think about it this way. Most of us think of resting as falling asleep or we think of resting as something like zoning out and binge watching Game of Thrones. Or we think of resting might be like having a glass of wine.
And while all of those things can be interesting and fun, there's a little different way to think about things. What if you had, just imagine for a minute, what if you had a way to intentionally rest that actually filled up your battery quicker? What if this intentional rest gave you more energy in a shorter amount of time? How much more could you do with your life if you were resting intentionally instead of either zoning out or medicating out or just kind of otherwise collapsing from total exhaustion.
So let's back out one step for a moment though, because you got to think about it this way. Most of us are exhausting ourselves because we equate the amount of our output with our self-worth. If my output is high, then I'm a worthy person and I can prove my reason for being here. But it's kind of a recipe for disaster because the more you do, the more you have to keep achieving and that to-do list just keeps repopulating. It doesn't go anywhere. So if you're equating your self-worth with your amount of output, you're already fighting a losing battle.
What if you started to think about your self worth in a different way? What if you thought, hmm, maybe it's the quality of my time while I'm producing the output. That's the important thing. Maybe it's important that I feel good and I'm having fun and I'm joyful and loving while I'm doing whatever I'm doing. And that in and of itself, the quality of the energy that I bring to what I do is enough. The outputs will take care of themselves. It's just a different way to think about it. I know I'm a big fan of to-do lists. I'm a big fan of structure and scheduling and I have all of my systems to create all the content and the books I write and the music I teach, I have all kinds of tracking systems. That's good. But above all of that, my more overall mission is that I feel good and then I bring the joy and I bring the love to everything that I do, and that way, my self-worth is not equated with relentlessly chasing achievement and output. Because when I do that, it leads me to burnout and exhaustion. And then even when I started to flip it a little bit and I started to achieve more and get more balanced in my life, well then I'd start to hit that fear of failure thing. "Well, if I try and do more in level up more, I won't be able to keep up with it." So you see, it's like it's a losing battle, my friends. So if you can start to reorient your thinking and saying, "It's the quality of my time here spent wandering on this planet, that is really important."
It's the quality of each of those moments. And trust that the work you're doing is enough. It can let a little ease and space in around maybe taking some rest. Right? Because most people are afraid to take a rest because if they stopped and they're not productive and if they're not productive then they don't have self-worth and on and on and on and on and on. Whew. Maybe start to flip that script in your brain enough. You know, brain just say I am enough. The quality of my time is more important to me than just getting more stuff done. Just a different way to think about it.
But now let's actually talk about, so say you've made some shifts, you're like, all right, I'm ready to try some intentional rest. Let me tell you a couple of stories about my animals because I love my animals and they are so wise.
So we know now that anxiety is one of the number one mental health disorders that's going on in the United States right now. Especially with our youth, with the teenagers, it is near epidemic proportions, right? The pressure to perform and succeed is overwhelming. And I see this a lot in my students and it breaks my heart. In my young clarinet students. And I see it in my adult students too, and I see it with people too who are struggling to have their basic needs met for safety, personal safety, for shelter, for adequate money to buy their food the next days. That's also very anxiety producing. And so I would argue that one of the reasons we are feeling so anxious and so tired by it is because we are disconnected from the natural world. We have forgotten that we are actually human beings, that we are actually creatures just like our pets, just like the birds.
And so sometimes by tuning in to what our cats are doing, what our dogs are doing, what the birds and the bees are doing, well that sounded a little, you know, a little connotation there. By tuning in with that, maybe we learn a little something about ourselves. This is not a lesson in the birds and the bees. Don't worry, we're not going there today. So about, let's see, I guess this would be 15 years ago or so, I was living out quite a different life. I was exhausted all the time. For those of you who don't know my story, nutshell version is I married my childhood sweetheart. He was just a wonderful man, but he got addicted to drugs and alcohol, and towards the end of our relationship it became very obvious that his emotional and verbal abuse was shifting and becoming a threat of physical abuse.
So I had some very heavy decisions to make, to stay in the marriage or to leave, and what would happen to him if I left. And while all that stress was going on, I was tired. I was teaching, I was working as a board certified music therapist. I was teaching college, I was gigging, I was taking more college classes because I love to learn, and I was really, really tired. So I started to kind of collapse out of my exhaustion. Maybe some of you have had this happen before too, where you just hit the wall, and I would just come home and my ex-husband would be passed out and drunk. I would make sure that he was safe and I would go into my music studio with my clarinets and my little small upright piano and I would lay on the floor and in would come Kyla.
Kyla was the most beautiful black cat you've ever seen. Have you ever seen a panther? You know how sleek and powerful they are, right? Can you picture a panther with those really rippling strong muscles? Just imagine that but pint sized, like mini panther. She moved like a panther. She was independent like a panther. She was not a cuddly hangout on your lap kind of cat. She was, you know the destroyer of all flies and insects in the house. The torturer of spiders and any creature that came wandering in. The rest of the time she would spend lounging. I had a big potted plant. She would lay in the dirt at the base of the potted plant, literally like a panther in a tree and just soak in the sun. When she wasn't stalking, she was resting. But during this time period, there I am exhausted, suffering on the floor, woe is me, my marriage is ending, this is all a mess. What am I going to do? And she'd come almost like stalking me. Step, step, step, step.
And she would come and plant herself right on my chest. Now this was unusual. I had had this cat for eight years at this point and she was never affectionate. She'd come and sit on me and she'd start that purr, you know that purr that cats do? It's just like that rrr, rrr, and I could feel my whole chest vibrating and I just lay still the first time it happened, like what is happening here? What is going on? I was like, okay, I can't deny that this does not feel super comforting. And she would almost like pin me there. Right? Like as if to say, now this is totally me anthropomorphizing her, right? But it was like she was saying, "Lady, slow down. Rest. Take a minute."
And she would just pin me there and just keep that purr going sometimes for an hour or sometimes two. Then she started doing it in the middle of the night. Sometimes my ex-husband would be quite ill from drinking too much and I'd get up and take care of him and then I'd be very agitated and worried and concerned and all up in arms. I'd go back into my studio, boom, boom, boom, in she'd come, same thing. She'd sit on my lap while I meditated or lay on my chest.
And so I gave in at some point, right? I was exhausted. I had nowhere to go. I let the vibrations of her purring just soothe me and I would just sit there. And I would begin to observe her throughout the day and I would notice that she wasn't really asleep in those moments, she wasn't that crashed out, exhausted sleep. She was just in this sort of altered state somewhere between waking and resting. It was almost like she was fully alert but conserving her energy, saving her energy, and then when she needed to, bam, she could turn her energy on like that, like flipping a switch and she could run down the stairs and have all the energy she needed to catch that fly or kill that spider. She would kill the spider and then my dog would come up and eat it. It was like this little ritual they had.
It was very entertaining to watch. I'm sorry spiders, I love you guys too, but you know, circle of life. But you know, it was like watching her then started to be a thing I would do during the day and I would notice when she was laying on that big potted palm that she wasn't really asleep then either. She was in that cool nether world, and if she heard the slightest thing she needed to react to, boom, she was there. And we see this with lions on the Serengeti. It's the same thing. It's like this active rest where they're conserving their energy for those moments when they need it, but they're not just checking out.
So the years went by, the years went by. Eventually I did get divorced and eventually Kyla was going to pass away. She had some tumors in her body and I made the difficult decision with the vet that it was time to put her down. So I wanted to have one more morning with her. And she had gone into hiding into a closet a lot those days because she was quite ill and that was unusual for her to hide away. So I had my morning meditation. I said, "I'm just going to sit by the closet and meditate and at least I'll be near her and then we'll go to the vet and we'll say goodbye." So pretty heavy meditation when I go and I sit in a little cross legged position on the floor in front of this linen closet right on like the second floor landing of my old house back in Chicago land. I'm sitting there and then boom, she comes down off the shelf, boom, boom, boom, boom. Same steps and comes right into my lap and sits in my lap while I meditate for about 20 minutes, that same purr she had always done. Rrr, rrr.
It's like, wow, okay. I finished the meditation without even saying anything, but in my mind I'm like, "Okay, I'm done. I'm going to get up now." She got up and went back into the closet, and I took her to the vet a little while later. We said goodbye to her. It was beautiful and profound and it was like I could feel her little spirit ***zip*** leaving her body there and I think back on that little mini panther I had, Kyla. Kyla, I love you. Wherever you are running around, whatever energy being you've taken now. And I think about what she taught me about intentional rest. Knowing those times when you can power down, not numbing out from life with wine or Netflix. Don't get me wrong, I love watching Netflix, I love watching ... Parks and Recreation is my latest thing.
Making my way back through those seasons, but to spend a little time to just be and to just be present and how that deep rest then would give me energy to boom through my day when I needed to make tough decisions. I could because I had taken rest. And I see my dogs now, I don't have cats anymore. Sadly, I'm quite allergic. But send me pictures of your cats. I love cats. I have three dogs now, live at a place we call Three Dog Farm because I have three crazy dogs. One of them is, what shall we say about Zoe, high energy. She never stops moving. For my yoga students who've come over and who have met her, she constantly runs. She's a true farm dog. She just goes and goes and goes and goes and goes until she needs to rest. And then what she does is she goes and lays by the back door, soaks in the sun and simply observes the natural world.
But as soon as she hears me open that little cabinet that has the key to the chicken coop in it, she hears that little jingle, boom, she's up like a shot and she's ready to run out. She goes into this power save mode, right? Where she's looking and observing and resting, but ready to go at a moment's notice. So I got to thinking over the years of watching Kyla and then watching Zoe and doing more yoga where we learn skills of intentionally resting and slowing down. And I come from a very traditional style of yoga that is holistic. I study Integral yoga, so we study all the branches of yoga. Physical movement is just one part of it, but we also do meditation, and breathing, chanting. We read lots of scriptures and philosophy. It's really a comprehensive lifestyle system. And in studying that, I began to realize that this notion of rest has evolved for thousands of years for us humans, but we've lost it in our modern day and it is time to bring it back, my friends.
If you are feeling constantly tired and exhausted, ask yourself what else could you accomplish if you actually had rest? What more could you accomplish if you learned how to power down like Kyla did or if you learn how to just sort of be and look out at nature and gathering that energy like Zoe does when she's watching the chickens from the back door, how much more could you accomplish? How much more joy could you bring to your life if you discovered a way to actively rest? Or maybe you're doing super great and you just want to get to that next level and you need that energy for the next level. So let's take our cue from the natural world. Remember that you need sunlight, water, food, just like Kyla and Zoey do, right? You need all of those things. You are essentially an animal and you need to nurture your animalistic self so that your higher mind and soul can express through that vehicle of your physical body.
So let's talk a little more concretely and specifically about two kinds of active rest you can start doing today. So again, I'm not talking about TV or drinking wine or even reading, which I love. I'm a writer, I'm obsessed with reading. So think of it less of recreation. I'm talking a little bit like a space that you can build into your day. It's like this space after a piece of music ends or the space when you've finished a book and you have that, "Ah" moment, or that space when you wake up in the morning and you sort of have that moment, what if you created more of those spaces? So let's talk about this the first way, which is one of my favorite ways to take active rest is to take a walk. And please, my friends. I am not talking about the power walk, I'm not talking about the walk ... One of my friends, I met her the other day thinking we're going to take a stroll and she had the headband and the water bottle and the power shoes and she took off like a shot.
I was like, "Whoa, I don't have the energy for all that. I just kind of want a stroll." I'm talking about a leisurely walk. Have you ever walked with a toddler or a three year old? You know how long it takes to get down a block because they stop and they look at every little thing like it's the most amazing thing they ever saw and you have to give up all pretense of getting somewhere quickly because you're with a toddler or a three year old. I'm talking about that kind of walk. I'm talking about the kind of walk where you go to a park with the intention to be observant and present like Kyla was while she was laying there with that potted plant or like Zoey is when she's at the back door just observing nature.
You're not producing output. You're not checking things off your to-do list. You're not exercising and accomplishing another thing. You're simply taking in nature. You're noticing the trees, you're noticing the flowers, you're noticing the animals, and you're letting all of that feed your senses. You're letting that fresh oxygen in through your body, letting your blood pressure decrease, letting that nice chemical reaction that happens between your respiration and the trees occur, right? They are literally cleaning our air for us. What would your life be like if you took that kind of walk? Even just once a week, once a month even. You went out, you said, "20 minutes. I'm going to walk around that park." Not a power walk, but an energy gathering walk. I think of my walks in the woods in the morning with my three dogs.
I let them run. They go off-leash and I stroll. My goal is for my heart rate to get even slower by the end of it. I, even when I'm going up a hill, I go as slow as I can. I notice the boulders. I notice the smells. Stop and touch things. Look at the moss. What would your life be like if you took a restorative walk, a walk where you're filling your senses with nature? How would that feel to come in from that moment when your senses are alive, it's restful and gathering. How different would your days be? How amazing would you feel and grateful for all the beauty that's around you all the time, but you're so busy achieving things, you might be missing it. So that's one way to get intentional rest is take an energy gathering walk. Another thing you can do is do something like a deep relaxation or a Yoga Nidra.
If you hop on over to my YouTube, I have some things there. It's labeled Yoga Nidra or deep relaxation. Yoga Nidra just means deep relaxation, fancy word. You can also find other videos on YouTube. Just type in 'deep relaxation'. There's some lovely guided ones on YouTube that I've been using every other day. They're just gorgeous. It can even be more simple than that. I love to do this thing where I take 10 minutes of music and I find a song that's 10 minutes long and I lay down in my bed, I cue the song and I just lay there and I just listen. Now it's important for the song that be a certain way so that you can kind of shift your physiology and your physicality to a more restful state. And this is what music therapy teaches us and I'm also a music therapist so I've got to pop that in there.
Just make sure your song has a really slow tempo. Make sure it has kind of like the same instrument family and the whole thing, which kind of makes sense, right? You wouldn't want it to be like jangling symbols halfway through that kind of jar you out. So kind of the same instrument family, like all strings, all piano or all voices, and you want it to have something that doesn't have a lot of like emotional connotation for you. Right? Something that's going to stir up a lot of memories and get you sort of agitated or get your emotions really firing. I love to go on iTunes and just type in 'meditation music', 'Yoga music' and see what pops up there. There's a wonderful artist, his name is Deuter. He's from Germany, D-E-U-T-E-R. He writes the most amazing atmospheric music that is not like new agey woo-woo.
It is solid, beautifully grounded, constructed, musical composition, all that. They're so supportive. So what if you put a song like that on that was expansive and restful and sedative and you just laid there for 10 minutes and just said to yourself over and over, "Relax, relax." What would you feel like after that kind of intentional rest? Maybe you'd have that energy of a Kyla to, boom, go and get what you need. Maybe you'd have the energy of Zoey to go run, run, run, run, run, run, run. Maybe you would just feel happier. Maybe you'd be better able to express love and gratitude for your life. So this is my case for being a little lazy, right? We've lost the art of just relaxing. So this is my challenge for you because you know I'm a teacher, I have to give you homework.
Gita: I need a little bell for this part. Homework time. Make some kind of weekly time to be lazy, my friend. Schedule it in your calendar. If you do not schedule this in, it will not happen. I'm talking to you, high achiever, I'm talking to you, list maker, right? If you don't put it in there and actually schedule it or tell another person that you need them to hold you accountable for doing it, you're going to cheat and you're not going to do it. You're going to move on from this podcast and keep on exhausting yourself. So if you want to flip that being tired and exhausted or you want to have that next level of energy to really contribute, make weekly time scheduled time to be lazy, take an energy gathering walk or take a restful nap with some music or do a guided deep relaxation.
If you really want to be ambitious with your homework for extra credit, you can do this every single day. I highly recommend it. So, but if you mark it in your calendar, make it a priority, it will happen and I promise you, your life will change. You can restore your health, your wellness, your joy, your creativity if you just learn to let go a little bit. All right, my friend. So that's my challenge to you. Rest, rest, and be lazy. Let's close this day a little bit with a peace chant. Because I'm a yoga teacher and that's how we roll. So this chance for peace is in Sanskrit, which is the sort of original language of yoga. I'm going to do it in Sanskrit first and then I'll give you the English translation afterwards. Listen with your whole heart and let's build a lot of peace in your life so that this sends you off into your day with a nice charge.
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu
May the entire universe and you, my friend, be filled with peace and joy, love and light. Ohm Shanti. And hey, if you like this, share it with your friends. Spread the love. Sign up over at my website for updates and little insider tidbits. I only give to my followers. GitaBrown.com. Also let me know on social, how's it going? Are you resting? Are you feeling better? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook at Gita C Brown, look forward to seeing you there, my friends. Rest well. Om Shanti.