“Time was a meadow not a highway.” – Tom Robbins
If you get frustrated with the many quotes and articles about how important it is to rest, you are not alone. We all know how important it is to rest and yet it can feel impossible to make the time to do what is suggested, to do nothing. As much as I advocate for doing nothing it can be more helpful to know that deep restoration can be achieved with deep play, otherwise known as active rest.
“Busyness is a badge of honour, even a sign of moral superiority. Rest, in contrast, is often treated as if it’s passive and pointless… It’s just a negative space defined by the absence of work.” - Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Deep play is doing something that you love, even if it doesn’t look like traditional rest, it can be equally, if not more restorative. If you are the kind of person who loathes to be told to sit and be still, then you are the kind of person that gets restored by doing something rather than doing nothing.
This is good news for the restless among us, the hard part might be in discovering what it is that you love doing.
It might be something creative with your hands and senses, or it might be more dynamic and movement based like sports. It might be that you love mountain biking with friends or perhaps you love gardening on your own, you might discover that supporting bird conservation makes you deeply contented or that playing a drum fills you with satisfaction.
“Recent work in neuroscience and psychology supports this approach to rest, showing how it allows us to recharge and stimulate our creativity, and gives us the mental space to cultivate new insights, and even helps us have longer, more sustainable creative lives.” - Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Whatever you love doing, prioritise that over what you think you should be doing.
Ideally, we would have time to meditate, practise yoga, keep up our fitness and maintain the healthiest lifestyle we know we should be doing. However, if all of the ‘should’s’ become a source of inadequacy and feelings of failure when we fall short of our expectations, then we need to give ourselves a break from trying to achieve perfection and simply follow our hearts desire.
If your play time was a meadow and not a highway then what would you choose to do with it? Listen to our latest ACTIVE REST meditation to get a taste of how to rest deeply in the experience of timelessness even while moving in the world.
“Good rest is not idleness. The most restorative forms of rest are active, not passive.” – Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
This Deep Play article was inspired by the Psyche article ‘How To Rest Well’ by Alex Soojung-Kim Pangis the founder of Strategy and Rest, a Silicon Valley-based consulting company that helps companies design and implement four-day working weeks. He has a PhD in history of science and lives in California.