Updated: Mar 27
Have you experienced the difference between regular ‘ol rest, and rest that makes you feel replenished and ready to rumble? Do you want to know how to maximize your RORI (Return on Rest Investment)? All you need is your attention, and your breath.
The truth is,
Even sleeping isn’t restful for the person who can’t rest when awake. If the brain is in a constant state of stress, it can be difficult to stop stress responses, even while asleep.
So how can we practice better rest?
Research has found
that taking mental breaks can give us a mood boost, increase our focus, and our ability to pay attention.
The Cleveland clinic recommends practicing mindfulness four times a week to lower stress, reduce cortisol levels and reduce inflammation. Mindful rest also helps our brains produce the necessary chemical reactions that prevent cancer and premature aging.
Rest fosters the development of desirable traits in leaders, Including mitigating reactive tendencies, cultivating creativity, expanding our perspective and increasing an individual’s emotional intelligence. Not giving our minds adequate moments of rest can impact our ability to work efficiently, and consistently.
What is mindful rest?
Scrolling social media, watching tv and reading the newspaper do not count as downtime in the mind-resting sense.
You must practice stillness in the body and mind to focus on the breath. The perfect breath is 5.5 seconds of inhalation, and 5.5 seconds of exhalation. It is the optimal breathing rate for our human bodies and our ancestors new it.
James Nestor, author of Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art describes how taking time to “consciously listen to yourself and feel how breath is affecting you” while maintaining “slow and low” breaths through the nose can help relieve stress and reduce blood pressure.
The science behind it is interesting as it is intricate, and it has uncovered why prayers from all over the world have the same rhythmic, healing pace.
Here’s a quick exercise to connect to your body and mind with your breath:
Put your hand over your heart. Using only your nose, take a very slow inhale in, feeling your heart speed up.
As you exhale, feel the heart slow down. Focus on your breath and the energy pumping through your body, connect to this moment with your full attention. Naturally slow your breathing, inhaling soft and slow and exhaling deeply and fully. Focus only on the breath for the next 6 cycles of breath.
This quick exercise can be done anywhere, anytime and can be shortened, or extended as needed to fit your schedule. Breathing slowly and gently through our nose has a innumerable positive effects on our mental and physical bodies, as it has been proven to ease stress, reduce inflammation and promote an overall sense of wellness.