The Habit of Intentional Rest

Welcome to the May 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Self Love

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about their thoughts concerning self-love. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Babywearing.

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My daughter practicing intentional rest

My daughter practicing intentional rest

At least once a day, I think of the standard instruction given at the start of an airline flight. “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” While it can feel selfish, this truth informs my most successful mothering days.

When I dress with intention in the morning, I approach the work of lovingly, peacefully mothering my children with confidence and strengthened resolve.

When I eat a tablespoon of sunflower seeds before preparing my family’s breakfast, I handle this often-turbulent time of the day with more ease.

And, when I replenish my inner calm reserves through a daily ritual of intentional rest, I am better able to nurture and love my family.

It’s that last one that I think our world is desperately missing. We’ve replaced intentional rest with unintentional numbing out. We try to pump relaxation and ease from wells that are empty – the television, the refrigerator or pantry and the Internet. We look outside of ourselves for peace, instead of cultivating it from within.

I’m not suggesting that those things are inherently bad. I love The Mindy Project and ice cream and my favorite blogs just as much as the next person. But, I try very hard to enjoy them when I’m feeling full and content, instead of empty and wanting.

The single most effective way I know to replenish my often frazzled nerves, to respond to the lack of control I actually have, to heal from and process life’s hurts and pains and to gain clarity when overwhelm threatens, is to practice a rest that I remain awake to observe. In yoga, we call this Savasana.

It is a simple practice, lie on the floor and do nothing for 20 minutes. But, simple and easy are not the same thing, are they? It takes commitment to set aside the time for intentional rest. It takes resolve to stay there as all of your irritations and frustrations float to the surface of your awareness. It takes patience to cultivate the skill of relaxation.

So, start small. Take one step in the direction of a daily intentional rest habit. Before you turn on the television, eat that ice cream or open your web browser, lie down on the floor (grabbing a few props will make it easier) and abide in rest for at least five minutes. Watch what happens.

Do this everyday for two weeks; increasing the amount of time you practice Savasana by one or two minutes every day. At the end of two weeks, evaluate the pros and cons of this practice. I’m bet I know which will win!

I’d love to hear how this goes for you. Come back here to the comments to share your story. Share your progress on our Facebook page. Send me a tweet about your new habit using the hashtag #intentionalrest. Let’s change the world, one Savasana at a time!

P.S. It’s so important to help our children cultivate a daily habit of intentional rest. Here’s how. (Guess what…the first step is cultivating the habit yourself! Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.)

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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 1 with all the carnival links.)

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What do you think?

  1. […] The Habit of Intentional Rest – Jennifer Hoffman, of Every Breath I Take, shares how she “puts her own oxygen mask on first” with her habit of intentional rest. […]

    by Mothering Myself | Living Peacefully with Children
    on May 31, 2013 at 3:13 am

  2. What a lovely reminder of how important savasana. You’ve inspired me to add a little bit of meditation and quiet to my stolen moments of time in the morning!

    by jana
    on May 31, 2013 at 6:53 am

  3. This is a great practice. I might try to instate this too, because my oldest so needs this! I do naps at lunch, so I do get rest every day, but this sounds so great as a family inactivity!

    by Laura @ Authentic Parenting
    on May 31, 2013 at 6:58 am

  4. I’ll do it. Starting tomorrow (if I start now, I’ll just fall asleep). That picture of your daughter is so cute!

    by Tat
    on May 31, 2013 at 7:26 am

  5. “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others” ~ so very, very true. As mothers we’re primed to always put ourselves last, but it’s true that we can’t guide someone else through life if we’re gasping for breath ourselves.

    I love the idea of Savasana, and I’m definitely going to try it (and I’ll be following up to learn how to get my children to participate too, as any attempt to steer them in the direction of stillness is fairly unsuccessful!)I’ve been trying to learn to meditate, with not too much success so far, but this seems more manageable. I’ll let you know how I get on :)

    by Helen @ zen mummy
    on May 31, 2013 at 7:28 pm

  6. I love your comment about doing things when you feel full and content. It is a nice reminder that if we expect ourselves and our children to do the best we can, we need to be full and content. We need to meet our needs and the needs of our family in order to function peacefully. Thank you for joining us this month!

    by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children
    on June 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

  7. Oh my goodness! What a cute pic of AE! I can’t believe how big she is getting! You have so hit it right on with your observation of numbing out vs intentional rest.

    by Shannon @ GrowingSlower
    on June 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm

  8. “We’ve replaced intentional rest with unintentional numbing out.”

    Most awesome quote I have seen in a long time! Seriously. If people would take this into consideration it might solve a few of the world’s problems. We need to truly rest our bodies, minds and souls. You have illustrated this beautifully!

    Sorry for the late comment from the Carnival…life…she happens!

    by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama
    on June 11, 2013 at 9:30 am

  9. […] The Habit of Intentional Rest – Every Breath I Take […]

    by Link Love (2013-06-15) | Becky's Kaleidoscope
    on June 15, 2013 at 10:53 am

  10. […] – pose basics – relaxation meme – teaching Savasana to kids – for heart health – an afternoon Savasana break – a habit of intentional rest […]

    by Savasana (Relaxation)
    on June 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

  11. I know (think?) you had a post with your husband on his practicing Savasana, but I can’t find it. I DO remember that I shared his skepticism. Last night I did your Middle Body: Spine and Posture session, and instead of skipping the restful sections like I normally do, I went along with them because it was evening and I wanted something slow.

    WOAH. I felt AWESOME afterward. Yet again, what I thought was new age mumbo jumbo turned out to be incredible without my even trying to make it so. This is definitely about to become a daily practice. I can totally see naptime becoming more the “me time” I want it to be with savasana than with old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy.

    by Sara @ GaijinMom
    on August 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm

  12. Oh Sara, this makes me SO SO SO SO happy! Yay!! I completely agree! We’re doin’ it – we are changing the world one Savasana at a time! :) (Oh, and here is Derek’s post about his afternoon Savasana Break – http://everybreathitake.com/yoga/afternoon-savasana-break/)

    by Jennifer Hoffman
    on August 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

  13. […] The Habit of Intentional Rest – Jennifer Hoffman, of Every Breath I Take, shares how she “puts her own oxygen mask on first” with her habit of intentional rest. […]

    by Overcoming Body Image For The Sake Of Our Children Hybrid Rasta Mama
    on August 12, 2014 at 1:04 pm