The Rejuvenating Power of Rest and Relaxation

25 years ago I bought an expensive leg cream – one of the really good quality, big name French manufacturers. I read the leaflet about using the cream, massaging it in, how often to do it etc. I was totally surprised to read that the instructions told me that if I was on a reducing diet and toning up programme (which I was) I should get plenty of rest.

Rest? To get rid of my thighs? This was revolutionary news to me.

I was used to meditating, doing relaxation for visualization – but putting my feet up? I couldn’t figure out the reason for lying around doing nothing, surely that would pile the inches on?

Well, I’ve come a long way since then on the journey, and thankfully my awareness about my body has come a long way too. And generally there’s been an overall raising in women’s knowledge about our health, mindbodies and lifestyles. So, this is what I found out and what I know now and what I’m passing on to you about rest and relaxation.

As simply as I can possibly say it, rest and relaxation are needed for 2 very important reasons.

Firstly, when you’re detoxing or destressing your body is doing it’s job of clearing out old rubbish, it is working hard. If you don’t rest enough while this is going on, you are putting your body under tremendous strain and expecting it to do too much at once: using what little energy you will have at this time both to keep your body going in activity and to clear out. It’s like expecting your washing machine to wash and spin at the same time: two different jobs.

Secondly, and very importantly, you need to rest so that your body can use it’s energy for cell renewal. And where this is concerned, time is the great healer especially as we get older when the rate of cell renewal slows down. So we need to give our bodies the best chance to make new cells, to rejuvenate itself.

Along with rest and relaxation comes rejuvenation.

You get new, young, healthy cells to replace damaged, toxic, fat-laden old cells. Does that sound like a good enough reason to rest?

So how do you get it?

When you start any detox plan, you will need to start on a couple of days when little energy is required because you won’t have any! The best thing you can possibly do is to plan to have an afternoon nap if you can. If you can’t, then try and cat-nap, or at least stay in bed a little longer in the morning and go to bed a bit earlier at night. I’ve got into the habit of “coming down” after 8.00 pm – switching everything off, lighting candles, calming the mood, sitting down and fire gazing for an hour.

The good news about relaxation is that it is cumulative – you can build it up. Once you learn how, you can keep building on the techniques you use, and you’ll learn to like it so much, you won’t want your peace disturbed by anything or anyone!

There are plenty of relaxation supports on the market now, there are plenty of videos, books and free downloads giving relaxation techniques which you can read and adapt for yourself.

One of the best ways of using relaxation is visualization, which is a powerful tool for changing ourselves. Using the images in our mind’s eye, we can learn about ourselves and move ourselves on in our lives. I’m not going to give any techniques here other than a couple of simple ones because I think you will learn more if you investigate and experiment yourself, buying books, joining classes, developing a home practice. There’s a short free download Relax on my website.

Personally, I’ve used visualization to see myself as the person with the image I’d like to have and watched myself turn into this person. There’s a wonderful saying; your soul sets up a picture in front of you so you can step into it! It’s very powerful – and the key to visualization is relaxation, as your conscious mind must be relaxed.

When my skin had become dull and tired and lacking in elasticity a couple of years ago it responded well to rest and relaxation, which allowed my body to use energy for cell healing and regeneration. The visualization I used then was based on the image of the sun’s golden healing light.

For this visualisation, I imagined that all that golden, warming light energy of the sun was filling up each individual cell of my body. I ‘watched’ in my mind’s eye as the golden light washed slowly down my skin from head to toe. (The visualization of the sun’s light helps the pituitary gland deep within the brain to stimulate cell renewal and therefore skin renewal.)

Learn about relaxation. And yes, it is something some of us have to learn. I did. So, some of the golden rules for relaxation and rest are:

  1. Don’t use anything stimulating late in the day – caffeine, tobacco, loud music, horror films.
  2. Make your bedroom restful – take the tv out so you’re not watching upsetting world news late at night.
  3. Make your environment peaceful, with mood lighting, candles, burning oil and incense, restful colours, soothing music.
  4. Build relaxing herb teas, warm baths and soothing massage oils into your routine.
  5. Give yourself space to relax.

Your body has a power of its own – a natural power for healing. And you need rest and relaxation to tap into the power.

Susan Ni Rahilly is founder of www.suzenyoga.com: Spirituality, Understanding, Zen, Energy and Nutrition through dedication to Yoga practice.

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