Feature Story

The Power of Rest

AS THE rain outside the Chinese restaurant kept pouring, mucous from my nose started to drip as if trying to compete with the downpour outdoors. Though the food on the table was invitingly sumptuous, this runny nose took my appetite away as I was always running back and forth to the restroom to blow my nose.

Yes, having a cold is inconvenient. When I arrived home I took some vitamin C pills to strengthen my immune system. Unfortunately, the cold had caught me like a cold snap. The whole night I kept on blowing my nose. I probably released a voluminous amount of mucous. It was inconvenient but at least the thought that this process was cleansing my system of this mucous helped me to accept the discomfort somewhat. By this time it was five in the morning.

Out of desperation, I boiled a kettle of water and inhaled the vapor…and finally the dripping stopped. Oh! How good it felt. Finally I was able to sleep.

When I woke up, my body was still feeling sluggish. I had so many pressing things to do but, this time, I said to myself, “The heck with what I’ve to do; my body is more important.”

After having a hearty breakfast and another vitamin C pill, I went to bed, read a book and dozed off into a deep slumber. I slept like a baby and, before I knew it, it was already night time. I think that was one of the longest sleeps of my life. After that, I felt a lot, lot better. The rest healed me.

The rest that makes us inactive is also the one that helps us to stay active.

Whenever the subject of rest comes to mind, I cannot help but reminisce about my observation of a dog near our place in Metro Manila. The dog survived poisoning simply by not eating any food. Perhaps it just drank water. (Well, I am not necessarily suggesting to not eat. Despite the many studies regarding the many beneficial effects fasting can do to our body, our programming has to be considered. I, too, am conditioned to believe that if I don’t eat, I will get weak…or get sick.)

After a few days, I was amazed to see the dog walking again. Animals have an innate intelligence to survive. Their instincts prod them to stop eating and, in doing so, allow their bodies to marshal the energy to concentrate fully on the healing process.

We also followed nature’s way in the past but have forgotten it because of our hectic and fast-paced lifestyles as well as our modern conditioning. Yes, it’s true that medicines help. Unfortunately most of us forget to heed the body’s call—a call for it to have a rest, a vacation, a respite, a breathing space or stillness.

What’s amazing is that behind that veneer of stillness, all those white blood corpuscles in our systems are keeping the harmful bacteria under control. It’s also doing some housecleaning to remove all the toxins we have ingested from the wrong foods we’ve consumed.

In short, the body is busily repairing itself. No machine in this high-tech era can match the body’s astonishing self-repairing features.

In this furiously paced and stressful modern living, many of us have forgotten to rest our bodies. It’s no wonder the people in cultures that have siestas develop less heart problems…and are not stressful.

Life is a cycle—day is followed by night; activity comes after inactivity; and renewed strength comes after a bout with flu. Even in the stories of creation from the world’s major religions, we see that God interspersed His work with periods of rest.

It’s usual that our days are checkered with activities—physical, mental or both—but we should also listen to nature’s call to let our batteries recharge. It is only through a moment of inactivity that these bodies of ours will have time to keep their organizing and healing faculties come to the fore. This is also the very reason why we cannot forego sleep—it helps our batteries regain their power. Try not sleeping for a few days and you will experience how hard it is to continue your activities.

Rest is not only letting our backs kiss the soft bed or comfortable chair. It is also allowing our minds to take respite from our worries, anxieties, frustrations, anger and other negative thoughts. A mind without rest makes us—well—restless.

Sometimes, just focusing the mind on the opposite, the positive, will help it to renew itself. We can also rest our minds by quieting them through meditation. It helps to renew our strength by doing some deep breathing too.

Another strategy is to relax, to still the mind. We can sit on a chair and think of nothing. If the mind is wandering, we can focus on our breathing or simply count from one to five for every inhalation and exhalation. If we can focus on the gap, it will be a lot better.

Doing this amidst our stressful schedules serves as a sort of safety valve to release all the stresses and worries that bother us. Some say that sleep is one way of relieving us from our stresses. Thus, the deeper the sleep, the more refreshed we are when we wake up.

Listening to classical or meditative music helps. Admiring the beauty of nature, the flowers on your table or garden, or simply contemplating on how wonderful it is to be alive—these are the things that can recharge your batteries back to their peak performance. Taking time to go to the mountains to view and imbibe the exhilarating vistas for some time energizes us. For me, going to the backyard and watering the plants lets me forget my worries.

The human body is a miraculous machine with the power to regenerate and restore itself in a short time, if only we can be like that dog in Manila and learn to hear and heed its needs.

The body’s message to us can best be described in these win-win and truthful words: “Give me importance and I will give importance to you.”


(Also published in Famegate Magazine)

Vics Magsaysay, Ph.D.
Vics Magsaysay, Ph.D., is a Los Angeles-based writer, fine art nature photographer, painter, graphic designer, makata (Filipino poet) and holds a doctorate degree in clinical hypnotherapy.

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