Answering the question of “why do you do this work?” is an ongoing evolution…but one of the central catalysts for my interest in this area was growing up in a family and school culture where rest was considered not only lazy, but also boring.
The ability to simply ‘be’, and do nothing – was not valued at all, and basically not allowed.
This affected me deeply and created an inner conflict – because every time I felt drawn to ‘la dolce far niente’ (sometimes translated as ‘delicious idleness’, or the ‘sweetness of doing nothing’), I would simultaneously carry a sense of guilt or anxiety for not being ‘productive’ and tending to the many things I was supposed to ‘do’.
I remember actually pretending to be sick, just so I could experience pockets of this sweet idleness – sometimes staying home from school, sometimes even opting to lay down in the dark ‘sick room’ available at school for kids who were waiting to be picked up by parents or waiting for the school day to end.
Later in my teens and early twenties, I struggled with addiction, alongside anxiety, depression, and various dysfunctional sleep/rest patterns.
During a particularly difficult depression and life transition, having moved to the UK and back to Canada twice in 2 years – I felt burned out physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
All I wanted to do was sleep.
I remarked to my GP that I wished I could go to sleep and not wake up for several months.
This resulted in my being admitted to a mental hospital.
Not surprisingly, nobody recommended a nap.
I found it so interesting/bewildering that not a single person in my life – whether a friend, family member, or the many health professionals around me at the time – could validate or possess the curiosity to explore my statement/desire outside the realm of pathology – that there was something inherently ‘wrong’ with me/it.
There was no evidence outside myself that I could see at the time to give me encouragement or validation that this could be a natural response or a wise choice.
So entrenched were/are we still in the industrial revolution mentality of constant movement and productivity that everyone around me told me that I would become MORE depressed through honoring this call to rest and sleep, especially during the day – and less depressed through medication and an up-and-at-em kind of attitude.
Something deep inside me rebelled like a mutiny of a thousand stars, pissed off that nobody is witnessing them anymore…and over time, through other signposts and observations gathered over my ten years of experience helping people slow down in Yoga classes and one on one sessions – I vowed to become an advocate for trusting the urge to rest and sleep, and to value and dive into these areas with fresh eyes.
It was through my personal Yoga practice that I began learning to work with these states and tap into the power of re-uniting with my own natural rhythms – especially rhythms of rest and sleep, which used to be very much unchartered territory for me.
My willingness to question the nature of reality and my environment has been instrumental in my personal Yogic path because it has taught me to look for ways of being ‘at home’ with myself and my body, regardless of external challenges and culturally imposed beliefs.