• Karen Scott

Embracing Rest

Updated: Oct 9

How to be ‘productive’ while aligning with the seasonal rhythms of Nature

Photo by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash

It's very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.’
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

During the transition of seasons, since equinox time (from Summer to Autumn/Fall in the Northern Hemisphere), I’ve been noticing an inner shift reflecting what’s happening in the natural world around me.


After a highly productive Spring and Summer, when my energy, motivation and enthusiasm were in full flow, this recent downshift in my energy has brought a deep inquiry into the rhythms of a human woman, inhabiting the rhythms and cycles of Nature.


I’ve seen how my mind has really tried to make something of this slowing down:

Am I overwhelmed? In need of a holiday? Unwell? Is all this lockdown alone time getting the better of me? Am I getting old? On and on the thoughts keep coming. And going.


The simple truth is that there’s a big transition occurring in the natural cycle of Life and of course it’s in me (and you) as well as all around us. We’re part of Nature, not separate from her.


And as someone who has to ‘earn a living’, in a society where meeting our basic needs comes with costs, I’ve been exploring how best to conserve my waning energy while maintaining my wish to be of service in the world.


I’m looking at what I can let go of. I’m letting my old leaves fall. I’m minimising distractions.


Before I share with you what I’ve been discovering about conserving energy and staying productive as we move into Autumn, I’d like to place this exploration in its cultural context.


Throughout my adult life, as a woman working in a patriarchal society, I’ve struggled with the culture of workplaces that rest on linearity and ‘productivity’. There was no room for monthly cycles, seasonal cycles, or any kind of cycles. I truly felt like a round peg in a square hole at times.


Even in the non-profit sector, my work was often driven by ‘aims’, ‘objectives’, ‘targets’, ‘performance indicators’, ‘outputs’, ‘outcomes’ and ‘impact’- many of these words borrowed from the military world. This focus on doing more, achieving more and maximising efficiency, rather than building relationships, deepening trust, or being fulfilled, became increasingly uncomfortable for me over the decades.


I do recognise the need for balance: some ‘masculine’ or yang structures and systems are essential to create a safe container within which our more ‘feminine’ or yin creative energy can flow. In Nature we can see the balance of these ‘upward and outward’ and ‘inward and downward’ energies changing with the turning of the seasons.


We’re moving now into a more yin part of the year (in the Northern hemisphere). Energy is dropping down to the roots, back into the soil, compost is being made and harvests stored for the cold season ahead.


What does this mean for those of us trying to balance our working and home lives with our energy levels, and all the demands of the challenging times we’re living in? How can we get the balance right and stay effective in our work and other projects at this time of year?


My number one tip (for myself as well as for you) is to rest, rest, rest. As much as you possibly can. Take things more slowly, reduce the number of things on your ‘to do’ list and do fewer of them. Be the kindest, most compassionate leader of yourself you could possibly be. Imagine the best manager you’ve ever had, the kindest teacher, the loveliest grandparent and be that person. Give yourself a break and fully embrace your own permission to do less.


Now, if you have a strong ‘inner boss’, like I do, this may not be easy. So I encourage you to consider what might make rest more acceptable to any pushier parts of you. In my case, embracing rest as an experiment and a chance to align more deeply with Nature has allowed me to give myself that full permission.


Speaking last week to my brilliant business coach, Caroline, and finding that she knew exactly how I felt about giving myself permission to rest was a great help. In fact here’s a blog post she shared with me on the same subject. Caroline shares her spacious yet productive work schedule with us here and also references to some books on the subject of rest, for those of you who like brain food on such matters.


It may seem counter-intuitive, but rest really does keep us effective and productive in our work. It’s far more sustainable than the opposite, which of course can lead to burn-out.


My second tip is to learn from the trees who are dropping their leaves and look at what you could drop to free up time and space for rest and relaxation (and not for more work!).


For instance, do you know how much time you actually spend on that highly addictive and mostly unproductive (and certainly unrestful) social media? I was shocked to find my average was about two hours a day, so I made a conscious decision to limit it to half an hour with the focused purpose of posts to my business page and a few groups that I admin. I notice it sometimes creeps up again when there’s some ‘big news’ and lots of my pals are posting interesting articles or satirical videos, which can distract me when I’m not careful.


If you have a smart phone with a Facebook app, in the settings you can find ‘Your time on Facebook’ which will show you exactly how much time you spend each day and on average in the last week. You can then set a daily limit with a pop-up reminder when you reach that limit, so you can use the time saved for something lovely like taking a walk, reading a book, having a nap or taking a longer lunch break perhaps.


Another thing I highly recommend dropping, if you haven't already, is watching or listening to the ‘news’. It’s rarely a relaxing or pleasant experience and the main things you need to know will find their way to you via your newsfeed, or conversations with friends.


Some other practices that have supported me in minimising distractions and creating more space for rest have included:


-Practising mindfulness meditations every day and bringing that quality of attention into my daily life, noticing when I’m resting, productive, or distracted and wasting energy.


-Journalling, or writing ‘morning pages’ each morning, helps to clear my mind sometimes brings forth some creative ideas and inner wisdom. I’m experimenting at present to see what difference it makes whether I write before or after my morning meditation.


-Some gentle physical exercise every day - usually taking a walk in nature as being outdoors is very restful for my busy mind.Or, when we have a really wild Atlantic weather front here (quite often at this time of year), I like to do some gentle stretches then have a yoga nidra ‘nap’, using free guided practices on Insight Timer


Again, this may strike you as counter-intuitive. Surely these practices are ways of doing more, rather than dropping things, you might wonder. I can only encourage you to experiment for yourself and discover how this shift in focus, from energy draining to energy building activities, can bring about a real sense of rest, relaxation and spaciousness.


I’d love to hear how these ideas land with you and whether you’ve been noticing a slowing in your energy too? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below and if you know anyone else who could do with resting more then please share this with them.


I’ll be back again soon with more musings on the theme of following Nature’s rhythms and cycles.










‘It's very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.’

~ Thich Nhat Hanh


During the transition of seasons, since equinox time (from Summer to Autumn/Fall in the Northern Hemisphere), I’ve been noticing an inner shift reflecting what’s happening in the natural world around me.


After a highly productive Spring and Summer, when my energy, motivation and enthusiasm were in full flow, this recent downshift in my energy has brought a deep inquiry into the rhythms of a human woman, inhabiting the rhythms and cycles of Nature.


I’ve seen how my mind has really tried to make something of this slowing down:

Am I overwhelmed? In need of a holiday? Unwell? Is all this lockdown alone time getting the better of me? Am I getting old? On and on the thoughts keep coming. And going.


The simple truth is that there’s a big transition occurring in the natural cycle of Life and of course it’s in me (and you) as well as all around us. We’re part of Nature, not separate from her.


And as someone who has to ‘earn a living’, in a society where meeting our basic needs comes with costs, I’ve been exploring how best to conserve my waning energy while maintaining my wish to be of service in the world.


I’m looking at what I can let go of. I’m letting my old leaves fall. I’m minimising distractions.


Before I share with you what I’ve been discovering about conserving energy and staying productive as we move into Autumn, I’d like to place this exploration in its cultural context.


Throughout my adult life, as a woman working in a patriarchal society, I’ve struggled with the culture of workplaces that rest on linearity and ‘productivity’. There was no room for monthly cycles, seasonal cycles, or any kind of cycles. I truly felt like a round peg in a square holeat times.


Even in the non-profit sector, my work was often driven by ‘aims’, ‘objectives’, ‘targets’, ‘performance indicators’, ‘outputs’, ‘outcomes’ and ‘impact’- many of these words borrowed from the military world. This focus on doing more, achieving more and maximising efficiency, rather than building relationships, deepening trust, or being fulfilled, became increasingly uncomfortable for me over the decades.


I do recognise the need for balance: some ‘masculine’ or yang structures and systems are essential to create a safe container within which our more ‘feminine’ or yin creative energy can flow. In Nature we can see the balance of these ‘upward and outward’ and ‘inward and downward’ energies changing with the turning of the seasons.


We’re moving now into a more yin part of the year (in the Northern hemisphere). Energy is dropping down to the roots, back into the soil, compost is being made and harvests stored for the cold season ahead.


What does this mean for those of us trying to balance our working and home lives with our energy levels, and all the demands of the challenging times we’re living in? How can we get the balance right and stay effective in our work and other projects at this time of year?


My number one tip (for myself as well as for you) is to rest, rest, rest. As much as you possibly can. Take things more slowly, reduce the number of things on your ‘to do’ list and do fewer of them. Be the kindest, most compassionate leader of yourself you could possibly be. Imagine the best manager you’ve ever had, the kindest teacher, the loveliest grandparent and be that person. Give yourself a break and fully embrace your own permission to do less.


Now, if you have a strong ‘inner boss’, like I do, this may not be easy. So I encourage you to consider what might make rest more acceptable to any pushier parts of you. In my case, embracing rest as an experiment and a chance to align more deeply with Nature has allowed me to give myself that full permission.


Speaking last week to my brilliant business coach, Caroline, and finding that she knew exactly how I felt about giving myself permission to rest was a great help. In fact here’s a blog post she shared with me on the same subject. Caroline shares her spacious yet productive work schedule with us here and also references to some books on the subject of rest, for those of you who like brain food on such matters.


It may seem counter-intuitive, but rest really does keep us effective and productive in our work. It’s far more sustainable than the opposite, which of course can lead to burn-out.


My second tip is to learn from the trees who are dropping their leaves and look at what you could drop to free up time and space for rest and relaxation (and not for more work!).


For instance, do you know how much time you actually spend on that highly addictive and mostly unproductive (and certainly unrestful) social media? I was shocked to find my average was about two hours a day, so I made a conscious decision to limit it to half an hour with the focused purpose of posts to my business page and a few groups that I admin. I notice it sometimes creeps up again when there’s some ‘big news’ and lots of my pals are posting interesting articles or satirical videos, which can distract me when I’m not careful.


If you have a smart phone with a Facebook app, in the settings you can find ‘Your time on Facebook’ which will show you exactly how much time you spend each day and on average in the last week. You can then set a daily limit with a pop-up reminder when you reach that limit, so you can use the time saved for something lovely like taking a walk, reading a book, having a nap or taking a longer lunch break perhaps.


Another thing I highly recommend dropping, if you haven't already, is watching or listening to the ‘news’. It’s rarely a relaxing or pleasant experience and the main things you need to know will find their way to you via your newsfeed, or conversations with friends.


Some other practices that have supported me in minimising distractions and creating more space for rest have included:


-Practising mindfulness meditations every day and bringing that quality of attention into my daily life, noticing when I’m resting, productive, or distracted and wasting energy.


-Journalling, or writing ‘morning pages’ each morning, helps to clear my mind sometimes brings forth some creative ideas and inner wisdom. I’m experimenting at present to see what difference it makes whether I write before or after my morning meditation.


-Some gentle physical exercise every day - usually taking a walk in nature as being outdoors is very restful for my busy mind.Or, when we have a really wild Atlantic weather front here (quite often at this time of year), I like to do some gentle stretches then have a yoga nidra ‘nap’, using free guided practices on Insight Timer


Again, this may strike you as counter-intuitive. Surely these practices are ways of doing more, rather than dropping things, you might wonder. I can only encourage you to experiment for yourself and discover how this shift in focus, from energy draining to energy building activities, can bring about a real sense of rest, relaxation and spaciousness.


I’d love to hear how these ideas land with you and whether you’ve been noticing a slowing in your energy too? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below and if you know anyone else who could do with resting more then please share this with them.


I’ll be back again soon with more musings on the theme of following Nature’s rhythms and cycles.








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