It is the end of the year, winter is starting and the day light savings and the upcoming solstice are making me feel drained. It doesn’t matter how important or exciting the events in my life are, my body is tired.
We are so used to demanding a lot from ourselves and in this thinking sometimes we believe that sleeping and resting less would increase our productivity. Productivity meaning: practicing more, playing more, planning classes, writing, sending emails, etc.
Usually we don’t think about how important it is to rest and, because we are not conscious about it, we haven’t been attentive to the benefits of resting. Sometimes we think that a period of rest is to watch TV, go outside, or check our Facebook. However, there are different ways to rest and opportunities to give our body a break and recover.
In these days that I’ve felt so tired, I just need to remember to spend some time more often doing constructive rest.
Body Mapping, like the Alexander Technique, uses the practice of constructive rest to release tension from the body and to develop inclusive awareness.
Learning to Rest – First lesson
Read the following instructions and then try five minutes of constructive rest.
Usually for practicing constructive rest we will lie down on the floor —if there isn’t carpet in the room, you can use a yoga mat. Put your knees up and your feet on the floor. Your arms can rest at your side or on your belly. You can have some support under your head, usually we use books, and find a height that is comfortable for your neck. You don’t want to be tense or uncomfortable.
These are five steps that you can easily memorize for doing while you are on the floor with your eyes closed.
Be aware of the space where you are. Remember how big it is and how high the ceiling is.
Feel the textures of your clothes or the carpet on your skin.
Notice the sounds in the room, perhaps there is some white noise. Also notice the sounds that come from outside.
Bring to your awareness your breathing. How does it feel? Restricted or coordinated? Can you feel your ribs moving?
Notice your whole body. Recognize where there is tension or pain and keep breathing. Let your muscles release.
Before coming back to sitting and finishing your practice, review each one of the numbers in the list. Be aware again about the surrounding space, the fabric on your skin, the sounds, and your breathing. Make gentle movements with your body and when you feel ready, sit up. Go back to your normal day, feeling recharged!
Constructive rest in practice rooms
If you usually practice at your school or University, you can have problems resting for a few minutes in your practice room — more if people are waiting for the room to practice! However, these minutes of rest can make a difference in the quality of your practicing and of your day. Therefore, this time is fundamental, it is part of your practice. So I encourage you to give this practice a time in your schedule. You can incorporate constructive rest, every hour, between different pieces that you practice, or any time that your body requires it.
There are lots of resources for learning about constructive rest. Below I cite just a couple.
- Conable, B. (2012). Constructive rest in Body Mapping. http://www.colorado.edu/music/sites/default/files/attached-files/Five-Tasks-of-Constructive-Rest.pdf
- Constructive Rest: The Audio Guide Series. http://www.constructiverest.com/