Rest and Digest ummmmmmmmmm not something I am used to doing

Moi/me in my pannier in Paris asleep and digesting yummy mommy milk. Nicole Asleep in her Basket by Helen Redman -1964
Moi/me in my pannier in Paris asleep and digesting yummy mommy milk. Nicole Asleep in her Basket by Helen Redman -1964

Rest and Digest

Normally I don’t need to do either of these very much. I’ve never had digestive issues, nor have I needed much rest. Normal is no longer the norm for me. I’m in a cycle of slowing down, being tired and actually for the first time having a little trouble digesting. For someone who has been bouncing around like Tigger or Wonder Woman for almost fifty years, this is a “sea change.” It is not one I am excited about, but also not something I feel I have any control over. I just can’t do the mind over body calculus anymore. The effects of life lived at this pace and level are catching up to me.

 

There are a number of factors connected to all of this, some of which I will write about in greater depth in one of the many books currently growing in my mind. Part of my need to rest is absolutely related to this impetus to create and the gestations that are going on deep in my being. I’m no longer birthing children, but I am beginning to  grow several longer and larger projects, and just like children evolving inside of me, energy and resources are required.

 

Some of the fatigue is related to my ongoing thyroid trials and tribulations (more details to come in the future on this). There are physiological reasons for my fatigue that are real and complex. I am addressing these and have been looking at them for the last year,  with great concentration, time and in-depth. Solutions are not just emerging from all my efforts, and how hard I’ve been scratching, experimenting, researching or trying different medicines and regimens. The reality is still somewhat occluded. Occluded realities require time and energy to navigate, so this is tiring and very time-consuming.

 

The other piece of my fatigue is about being in Peri-menopause, heading towards home plate and hoping to soon be done with bleeding away so much of myself every month. The loss of blood I go through and have gone through every month of my life since I was twelve, (except for when I was pregnant), is of epic proportions. I’ve been anemic as a result most of my life and have to supplement with iron, iron rich foods and generally crave meat in a very insane way a day or so before I start bleeding. I am often down and literally need to be in bed, for the first two to three days of my cycle.

 

So, all of these factors are playing a part in my need for sleep and calm and time to digest. It was my acupuncturist, Lupine Wread, who told me “You need to Rest and Digest.” She is helping me understand that I am in a new phase and that I have basically exhausted my parasympathetic nervous system from years of giving and doing for so many folks. Normally, I just source from the earth, from The Divine and from my husband (I am a secret vampire), but lately that hasn’t been enough and my sympathetic nervous system is now saying, “sorry girlfriend, we can’t just run the show anymore without you taking some serious down time.” I just cannot run, run, run anymore, and that is okay.

 

There is a gift in this, when I am not feeling like a slug. I like slowing down and the need for it is so clear that I cannot ignore it. I just don’t have the electrical capacity to go, go, go anymore. I may get some of that back as my systems get sorted out and after I have spent serious time resting and digesting. I may not. I am so much more internally focused right now and I know this is not just something happening to me.

 

It is a function of entering the “crone” or early crone, phase. I’m moving towards being an older woman. In September I’ll turn 50. I know there are women running marathons into their 80s and I hope to be doing a lot of wondrous things between now and whenever I leave the earth. But, this is a time of slowing down before I take the next curve in my  path onto roads unknown in my life. My youngest will be graduating from high school come Spring of 2015 and there will be no more children to raise or instruct or guide in my home. I will be free to pursue my own path without needing to address the needs of others quite so much.

 

Of course, serving the Divine, is my always path, so I will be addressing whatever needs come up related to that, which, of course means other peoples’ needs. The difference will be in how I skillfully manage to do that.

Skillfully Trampoline Jumping in my youth
Skillfully trampoline jumping in my youth

In Buddhism they use the term skillful means (Upaya) to describe getting somewhere more efficiently. You do not acquire “skillful means” quickly, they come with practice, guidance, and time to, yes, REST and DIGEST. Not only food, but ideas, and concepts and feelings need time to settle and move through me and all of us really.

 

I used to be into the Aikido kind of metaphor, where you take what is coming towards you and move it along, flip the energy over. The problem is I was never an adept at Aikido or any martial art. I am a sponge, a big fat wet and sloppy sponge. Being an Empath means I take in all the emotions, feelings and things around me and I process them through my body. I do not move them around me, I receive them inside of me. Changing that pattern seems pretty impossible, so I have worn out lots of my systems, without meaning to and now I am navigating this body territory in new ways.

I also have to say that environmental factors play a part in all of this. I will write much more on this in the book I am gestating. For now though, I want to be very clear that I do not believe that any of us are exempt or safe from the degradation and wounding and polluting of our waterways, soils and planetary systems.

There is nowhere to hide and our bodies cannot escape, no matter how much organic food we eat or how many miles we run or how often we see the doctor or acupuncturist. We are all subject to the reality on this planet and no one gets away from the toxins and injustice here on this earth, even if it looks like they are “getting away with it or from it.” There is a cost for everyone, body, soul, heart and mind, one of your systems will be impacted or all of them.  We all have different capacities for handling toxins, some folks more than others, but all of us are exposed and injustice and harm wreak havoc on all of us because we are all ONE being.

 

See my poem Witch Hunt for a poetic take on this.

 

I always tell folks that my soul and spirit are permanently rejuvenated and rejuvenating. The thing is, my body is not. It is finite and has limits and challenges and I have to address those skillfully. I am not into judging myself or others for their body choices (at least not the ones that don’t harm others). You will face my wrath if you endanger others with your choices, but otherwise, we all have narratives and story lines we follow with our lives and bodies that are unique and personal.

 

Skillful means for me, means recognizing that I have to take my body and its needs a little more seriously now than I used to. I have to address “rest and digest” and actually do those two things more skillfully. I have no desire to do much of anything else right now, with the exception of my desire to pray more. I just cannot run and jump to the constant calls for action that are all around me. I am no longer available in the same way. Luckily, others are and can be and, I am not the only one who can be of service in situations. This is part of the story too, recognizing that I only need to do my part, not everyone’s part.

 

Across a few thousand years in time the voice of Rabbi Tarfon of the Talmud teaches and reminds me and all of us that:

 

“The day is short, there is much work, and the workers are lazy, but the reward is great and the Owner is pressing.” He added: “You are not duty-bound to finish the work, but on the other hand, you have no right to waste time from it; if you have learned much Torah you will receive great reward; your Owner is to be trusted that He will reward you for your efforts, but be mindful that the reward of the righteous is in the World to Come.” –

This passage is a translation: by Nissan Mindel.  There are lots of teachings in it. It is important to remember when looking at ancient texts that all Torah and teachings from others require perspective and explanation and contemplation. I have had the opportunity to study this teaching for years and years and it always yields fruit for me. The section, right now, that I am attending to is the idea of not being duty-bound to finish the work. I have not wasted my time or been lazy. I have to trust a little to others and learn more Torah. I need to rest from doing and digest teachings slowly in time so that I can be a skillful practitioner in a BODY for the next fifty years or so, B’ezrat Ha-Shem (with the Holy One’s Help).

May you benefit from whatever resting and digesting I manage to do that is of service to the greater good of Tikkun Olam (mending of the world). I wish you and all those in need of space and time, the space and time to also rest and digest!

 

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