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Rest as a Radical Act in Urgent Times

What would it be like to create space for radical rest and stillness in our organisations?  And what would be the first few steps?
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As part of our programme of free Artful Inquiry online events, Sophie Tidman hosted a session called “Embodiment Part 1: Radical Rest” in January 2022.  We invited guests to start their week in a more artful way by joining Sophie to explore how we can find creativity and nourishment in deep rest. Sophie shared the practice of Yoga Nidra (literally translated as ‘yogic sleep’) – a very simple but powerful practice to enter into an effortless state of being. You can snuggle up with it here: Sophie’s Yoga Nidra Meditation

Following on from Sophie's session she has shared some further thoughts on the subject below.

We’ve created a world that exiles our humanity

I have wondered for a long time – why is everyone, including me, always so very busy?  Innocuously, we say: it’s the times we live in, this modern age, the technological revolution.  Embrace it, hack it, tolerate it.  

But as I get older, it feels more profound than that.  It feels like we’ve created a world that exiles our earth-bound humanity.  Our economic model hinges on the expectation of relentless growth which you’ll notice to be a phenomenon notable only in its absence from the natural world.  Industries are devoted to finding new ways to distract thrive by tapping into our heightened collective nervous system.  And it’s no coincidence that those we pay most in our societies are entertainers.  So much of the time our attention is flung up and around the world and away from our selves.  It’s not just our data that lives ‘in the cloud’.  

And it shows up in our bodies, moment-to-moment

Personal and ecological burn-out are the most visible impact.  But it manifests elsewhere as a chronic sense of dis-ease which I feel in myself and others as an anxiety with simply being right where we are at this very moment.  It shows up in the way we’ve forgotten the most fundamental of our needs and pleasures – how to breathe, how to move, how to rest.   And it shows up in the way we push ourselves forward and out into the world rather than letting it come to us.  Try placing your awareness in the front of your body and follow the sensation down from your face to the toes.  Now place your awareness in the back of your body and trace awareness from the heels to the back of the head.  Which feels more familiar?  What is the quality of each?

I think there is a secret yearning to return to stillness.   This was the proposition of Mayvin’s January Artful session: Rest as a Radical Act in Exhausting Times. During the session we spent time in the practice of yoga nidra, an ancient practice for entering into an effortless state of being.

Rest as a homecoming and a returning into relationship with the Earth

In this practice of conscious rest there is a turning inwards and a coming home to ourselves.  To rest deeply and fully is literally a dropping down back towards the earth. We become smaller, more tender yet more connected.   It is a visceral remembrance of how our being is interwoven with our natural environment.  It is the embodiment of our calling right now as a species to rediscover our right relationship to the Earth. 

Being in right relationship means finding that dynamic balance between resting into and moving out of, between giving and receiving.  At that point of balance is a place of ease.  That place of ease may look very different depending on what you are meeting in that moment. You may be hosting a party of raucous relatives or finding yourself alone and without a to-do list.  At the point of balance you may find yourself called to dramatic halt, to drop into a tender pause, or to take a courageous stand.  

What place does rest have in our organisations?

Rest and ease are rarely allowed a look in when we go about organisational development or change.  It could even be regarded as taboo.  We assume times of change to necessarily be the busiest, and even expect initiatives, processes, strategies to pile up as a sign of commitment and energy.  Our anxiety provokes rapid movement, but it is often movement borne of habit that takes us right back round the circle.  Busyness rather than action or true movement.  It is only out of stillness that something genuinely new and spontaneous can arise.  

What would it be like to create space for rest and stillness in our organisations?  And what would be the first few steps?

To find out more...

If you would like to find out more about embodiment, have a listen to our Podcast on the subject here: How can embodiment techniques be helpful in the workplace . It features a discussion between Sophie Tidman and Martin Saville about what brought them to learn about embodiment, how it relates to their work in Organisation Development, the insights it offers and more.

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