I Rest My Pace

This week I sliced my thumb nearly to the bone, smashed my knee so hard my head exploded, bought $400 worth of software it turned out I did not need, and spent one long day griping at everyone I saw. This, gentle reader, does not fulfill my self-help motto “live it to give it.”

At the end of that awful day, bruised and bleeding from both my thumb and my bank account, I realized I had lost the life rhythm of my essential self. I was working flat out and accomplishing very little.

This is not a first for me.

Past experience has taught me that although we all have the same amount of time in one day of our lives, we can put a great deal of life in our days by re-establishing our natural rhythm. It’s not about working harder, smarter or faster; it’s about working in harmony.

The rhythm of our essential selves is like almost every other rhythm in nature. It has two phases which I call “rest” and “play.” When you rest in harmony with your essential self, you feel as drowsy and contented as a cat in the sun. Right now, look back on a wonderful lazy day in your past. Maybe you were falling in love or you just finished a huge project. For some reason, you’ve given yourself permission to just goof off.

For the next ten minutes, give yourself that permission again. For me, it helps to pretend I’m in the company of “resting buddies.” These are real people in my life with whom I’ve goofed off in the past. As I picture them, that energy of loving relaxation comes back easily. It can also help to be around an animal — a horse, an iguana, or a dog — who is just being.

As you stay connected with your essential self through rest, there will come a moment when something piques your interest. You will want to get up and investigate, or you’ll be thrilled by the idea of exploring some area of your life – familiar or unfamiliar. (For me, this often takes the form of something I want to write.)

This is your signal that the essential self has finished resting and wants to play. Let it.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the idea of using the word play to replace the word work. If you have no way to feel playful doing your work, get different work.

This is not to say that play is easy. Real creativity, which is the essence of play, can feel absolutely grueling. But ultimately there is a sense of joy and meaning in having done it. The essential self doesn’t mind hard work. But it will reject meaningless work.

Of course you may not always be able to dictate the times when the external world wants you to work or play. So make conscious deals with your essential self (I’ve shown you how to do this in my first-ever video blog) Say right out loud, “Essential self, I promise you, that if you get up now and drive to the office with me, I will spend 2 hours goofing off this evening.” (For me “goofing off” is always watching TV with my family.) Or “Essential self, my body’s too tired to keep playing and I need rest. I’ll play your favorite computer game so you can wind down.” You’d be amazed how your energy cooperates when you make and keep such promises.

This is what I did to get back in touch with my own harmony. Though I felt as if I were slowing down, every good thing in my life suddenly quickens. People who had been ignoring me once again began returning my emails and getting my work done. Once I’d rested deeply, the project I was “playing” on developed with astonishing speed and ease.

You get more life in your time when you find the path of harmony, rather than the path of force. And it really, truly feels as if you have more time in your life, too.

More time. Can you imagine that?

5 replies
  1. Marjolein Charlesworth
    Marjolein Charlesworth says:

    I LOVE your view on things!
    But I feel like most people see it as being lazy, when I listen
    to my body and soul like this. I live my life a lot like you describe here and my mother as well as my husband are runners. Always trying to do even more.
    I get most things done in a day with 3 young children, but it seems never enough in their eyes…it made ME think I might be lazy…
    What wld you say?
    Lots of love,

  2. Athena
    Athena says:

    This was definitely a reminder I needed today after slamming myself into various walls for much of March.

    My concern is always that fuzzy line between rest and procrastination. I feel like I could spend the next month crashed on the couch every evening, but I’m afraid if I did that I’d get into the habit of losing every evening to being sucked into the TV and nothing would ever get done.

    Also, when those desires to ‘play’ come up, I seem to end up going in ten different directions. I want to finish things, but if I were to go completely with my play impulses it would never happen.

  3. Ariane
    Ariane says:

    Such good advise! I find myself doing exactly this now, after being diagnosed with Lupus. It’s as if I had to get an illness first to allow myself. Interesting.
    Love you mucho!

  4. Vanise
    Vanise says:

    Hi! I love your view point… I was journaling earlier about some chronic thought patterns tonight and then came onto computer… saw your video about way finders… my golly Moses!~ have you been reading my email?? MY story down to the chronic health issues/ dyslexia/ addiction/ abuse/ and I am an artist & writer. Thank you for putting my story down so well. So brilliantly. Thank you. Sincerely, one who is looking for hope and a new way to think. Glad you are out there. Vanise


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  1. […] words of life coach Martha Beck came back to me: when you don’t know what to do, get very quiet and still. Once the noise settles […]

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