From rest to zest

From rest to zest

From rest to zest

There are days when the body feels listless and heavy, when the mind refuses to focus, causing you to commit several avoidable mistakes. On such days, I can push the pen until it bores holes in the paper, but it just won’t write! What my mind and body are asking for, I’ve learnt, is: “Time out!”

There’s always a bit of wear-and-tear from daily routines on the most optimistic of spirits. Even small wishes not granted – untimely downpour when you want the sun, loss where you expect gain, a snub where you think you are welcomed  — can ultimately tire the stoic. When it piles up, somewhere deep within, there’s a slowing down like the dvd player going into stand-by mode.

This essentially means our personal rhythms have gone awry. Like waves in the ocean, everything about us flows and ebbs, rises and rests — our breath, body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, hormonal graphs, heart beat, moods, sensitivity to sound, pain, words.

When the mind is not functioning, there’s no point trying to plan or analyse. Just give the body what it is demanding: a break. It works on the four Rs — retreat, relax, recuperate and relate.

Retreat into nothingness and just watch the clouds drift lazily in the sky. Allow yourself to daydream. When you step back into your imagination, your emotions soak in its sweet playfulness. It’s a safe, secluded space where nobody else can enter.  

Relax into restfulness. This is the best state to start regaining rhythm. One great way is to read poetry. Its rhythm, its rhyme sweeps us into a world of breathtaking beauty. I strongly recommend Khalil Gibran’s Prophet. “I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff. And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire to seek freedom becomes a harness to you…”

Since verses are an outpouring of a poet’s body rhythms, they ride into soothe our tired nerves. For verses are rhythmic voices spilling wisdom to dispel fear and drain stress from the body.

Recuperate on the truth that life is an ever-renewing serial. Decay dissolves into death and comes back as a new life. Chaos dissolves into stillness and returns as a new order.
Decide not to hurt yourself by putting yourself under any kind of inner pressure. It’s better to live and work at a slow, easy pace than to be slowed down to a zombie-like state by frantic compulsions. This principle keeps my pen flowing.

Relate. Now see how, thanks to the above steps, you de-freeze the frozen world and make it come alive again. The impulse to move, to return, to relate to your normal workaday tasks returns in one wonderful surge. The spirit is willing, so is the flesh — this is rhythm.  

It is also important to know that we operate in alternate 90-minute cycles of alertness and restfulness. Yes, it means if you push too hard and work too intensely when you’re in the 90-minute rest mode, you don’t give your best. Avoid getting frustrated when your attention wavers when things don’t seem to get done by being patient. And the alertness returns.

Finally, remember, when you eat right, exercise regularly, your energy flows and ebbs gracefully and you won’t get fazed by the “time out” signals. As Thoreau said, “He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.” So remember, when you’re on top, stop. And enjoy the view.

(The writers have penned the book Fitness for Life.)

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