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October 23, 2019

When Everything in Life Said “DO,” I Decided to Rest

For anything to take place, there needs to be a motivating factor, a catalyst.


Often times, the biggest catalyst for change comes in the form of an obstacle. For those of us in the “yoga world,” there is a certain familiarity with the symbolism of the lotus flower blooming out of mud. It is from the metaphorical mud and muck of our lives, that we blossom into our own lotus flower, our highest self. There will always be a catalyst because we live in a world of energy, of cause and effect. What we do with this catalytic event determines what happens next.


The way in which your lotus blooms, is linked directly to the choices you make. Do you allow the events of your life to send you reeling into the role of victim? Or do you take responsibility for your part in and out of situations? Do you face the demons and uncomfortable stuff? Or do you discover courage in the face of adversity? Are you always “doing” – getting out of the pain and fear and suffering? Or can you rest into it, feeling the pain and allowing it to move through you?


In April of 2019, a teacher of mine recommended I rest… until September! He was aware of the trauma I had endured and encouraged me to take time to heal my heart. At the start of 2018 I experienced a catalyst that dramatically changed the course of my life. The first few months, I navigated my landscape with the skill of a blindfolded drunk person. Eventually, I pulled took the blindfold off and was able to use the events in my life to motivate. In the first year of my divorce, I began taking tender steps into getting to know myself. This involved a lot of new healthy behaviors. I started meditating, stopped drinking, immersed myself in nature, started a business, fell in love, got heartbroken for a second time. I DID a lot. I needed to.  What I didn’t realize at the time, was all of this “doing” was the cause for even more awakening, trusting, and letting go.


At first, rest seemed like a great suggestion – after all, I am a single mom. Turns out my idea of rest and what goes down with actual healing rest don’t exactly align. This was radical rest. This type of healing required me to take a deeper look at the things I do and why I do them. It forced me to take a moral inquiry of my life, diving into traumas and shadow aspects of myself. While rather rigorous, it penetrated with the gentle guidance of a mother. Encouraging actual rest to nurture my body while it underwent deep transformation. Had I realized any of this at the beginning, I’m not sure I would have signed up.


The type of rest I embarked upon has been coined “living as a DOT” by a teacher of mine, Phil Good. He embodies this concept and has marvelous resources on it via YouTube and Vimeo. At the most basic level, living as a dot, means that you exist in the now moment, choosing not to weigh yourself down with engagements or relationships that do not bring you peace. It means observing your triggers so that you can process and integrate trauma on a journey aimed at reclaiming your “wholeness”.


One of the things that came through the most was the rest turned out to be an exercise in listening. Not listening to whatever bullshit came in, but listening for my one true voice and heeding it’s advice. We are programmed like mad. In our thoughts and in our bodies, we hold on to all sorts of different patterning and traumas. We lug around the suffering of our ancestors, the traumas of our parents, the messages from our communities. To actually be able to decipher that one true voice is really, really hard. It can be done. I cleared my calendar and committed to doing only what brought me peace.


I was very fortunate because my life actually presented me with a unique opportunity in which I could make this rest period happen. I was scheduled to move at the end of the summer and could take the months leading up to our relocation to actually try this thing. At first, I tried to let my body lead me. If I was tired, I slept. If I was hungry for chocolate, I ate chocolate. I had always been an occasional coffee drinker and developed steady coffee habit. I stopped doing yoga. I meditated A LOT – at least 2 hours a day. I walked aimlessly in the forest. It felt very much the opposite of what I had been programmed with, but enough of my life didn’t really make sense to me so I figured “what the hell?”


In the first couple of months, there was a daily battle with what my mind felt like I “should” do and with what I was trying to do. So much of this rest period was so counter intuitive to what I had always done. I was quite literally in battle with my ego and it’s expectations for how I should behave in order to get on in this existence. All of the things egos bring up, came up. I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, driven enough. I was going to get fat because I had stopped my yoga practice. I was selfish because I was taking time off. I was a shitty mom because I let my kids watch a movie so I could meditate. I was a horrible friend with no social life. I was boring. The hardest thing about this attack was not engaging with it. I didn’t always succeed, but I did often. When the voices came in I listened to them and asked them to leave. They didn’t always leave, but I didn’t respond. I didn’t do anything except feel very real pain and fear that exists in my ego. I cried a lot. And then I wiped my tears away and offered truth and comfort to those parts of myself. Then I kept resting.


The more I processed my emotions in this way, the closer I got to hearing my true voice. I have heard that the ego is like a stray dog – scared and undisciplined. I learned how to show my ego some love and ease it’s worries. These days, it is more obvious to me what is ego and what’s real. If the voices coming in are not rooted in peace, they are not mine.


In rest, I learned to love myself, exactly as I am. On one of my many forest wandering, I distinctly remember my amazement in realizing this for the first time. I walked through the forest and thought I’d try a list of pros and cons on myself. I came to discover that there is not one single thing I would change. And that is mind blowing because for the last 36 years, I would have bartered and sold myself away for next to nothing. In fact, that’s what I had done.


Rest taught me to reclaim my power. Before this experiment I didn’t really realize how much of my power was missing. I used to give it away like hot cakes. Early on, I sought love from outside of myself. This seeking manifested in the form of people pleasing. If I could just make the people in my life happy, they would love me and I would be complete. Turns out love doesn’t work that way. That kind of validation seeking took my power away, made me into a liar, and distanced me so far from my true self. Resting gave me the opportunity to pause in each and every interaction. This awareness to pause – even if just for a split second – allowed me to tap into what I really thought and felt in any given situation and allowed me to act accordingly. Moving with awareness is moving with power. Alert and engaged with mighty precision, I was able to pull back to me all that I had so carelessly given. I discovered the places that triggered me were the places I had given away. When my heart would start beating rapidly or I’d feel anger rising in my chest, I’d repeat to myself, “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take my power back.” Little by little, empowerment flooded me and people and situations that once left me feeling weakened, simply rolled off.


I discovered balance within. I came to believe that I am a divine being. I am filled with love and light. Within me, I am both divine masculine energy and divine feminine. My concepts of masculine and feminine were distorted. I had always identified with my feminine side. I am nurturing and soft. However, in rest I learned my masculine side was taking over. While nurturing and soft, I did not have the trust to allow my feminine side to flourish. My masculine energy to do, do, do and make things happen was out of balance. In relationships I realized that while I longed to be cared for, once the honeymoon phase of the relationship ended, I would be the one doing all the things to keep the relationship afloat. I learned to embody my feminine magnetism and sit back, like a queen, allowing my world to provide what I need.


And trust…always back to trust. This rest – an experiment that forced me to let all of my guards down and to embody a lifestyle that was so counterintuitive to everything I had ever done and made me feel like I was living on another planet – taught me to trust. When everything that was familiar wasn’t any more, when awareness of old behaviors was under a microscope, when the shadow side of everything came rushing in and emotional cleansing brought me to my knees…I found trust.


It’s a beautiful thing. As I write these words and feel the remembrance, not of the pain of this exploration in letting go, but the sheer bliss in the discovery of what came after. Time and time again, I have heard analogies linked to holding on to suffering. The hot burning coal, the rope. We cling so tightly it is as if we are in an airplane that is being kept in air by our clinging alone. And then, by some divine intervention, we get the opportunity to test our faith and get our hands dirty and breathe in trust and knowingness and the embrace of something so much bigger than us … and we let go. The hot coal drops to the floor, we relax our grip. Our hands heal. The airplane glides through the air, safely afloat in the hands of the pilot.


This life keeps getting messier and messier. I am a single mom with two amazing children. At 37, I am starting from scratch. I am starting a career and a revised edition of my imagined family. In many ways, it’s as though my life is starting now. With more variables than I have ever had in my life at once, I have never felt more certain of my light and my path.  I took a chance – when everything in my life was telling me to push harder, work more, make shit happen – I looked those fear based, lack filled notions square in the eyes and decided to rest. It was the best decision I ever made.

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Stephanie Vidoli  |  Contribution: 2,275