Ali Coutts . 11 November 2022

Rest and Restore

What does that word conjure up for you? Images of a favourite chair being refurbished? The restoration of your computer after the latest crash? The renovation of a stately home?

Well today the context is all about you. I am interested in your restoration.

The full title of this blog is Rest and Restore. I feel one activity requires the other. What do you associate with those two words? Perhaps your annual one or two week summer holiday, the holiday that every year you long for months ahead of its date, willing it to be that time, your mind and body is so in need of rest. How about in between the holiday slots? What about on a regular basis, even daily? Do the words, rest and restore feature in your life or does that all sound a bit la-la and more like everyone’s wishful thinking or far off dream of a slower paced, more easeful life?

Don’t stop reading, don’t feel bad or hopeless if you identify with the above, there is no big stick to beat you with here. I am exploring, with a large dose of empathy and a possible solution.

As individuals, perhaps most of us have the feeling we should (that dirty word) be doing something about our well-being. Is it well-being, well-being or well being? – hereafter I’m choosing the latter throughout this piece. Well being has been a buzz word (two words in my book) for some time now. It is officially still ‘trending’. Corporate employers are giving it more attention and employees actively seek out companies that care about their well being.

In a previous time of my life I went into schools and companies as part of a two person team called Gently Be, running well being workshops that focussed on the three key areas of mood, food and movement. One hypnotherapist, one yoga teacher & laughter yoga leader; between us we provided insightful and practical information, activities and simple solutions to help lay a foundation for change in each area. The idea is, if we can find some balance in each area, life starts to flow a little more easily (and start small is still the best advice). The laughter exercises were an important element. Take life too seriously and create a potential stumbling block called high expectations and instant results. Lighten things up, find the child in you, (try and) laugh at yourself, but always, keep it real, and progress can be made.

Whatever well being means to you, it’s obvious, for longevity’s sake that the activities and practises that create well being in your life, have to appeal and work for you as an individual; there is really no one size fits all programme. Maybe you jumped on the well being band wagon and then fell off finding it too challenging to stick with new ideas that didn’t suit your needs but seemed like a good idea at the time? Or perhaps you are limited to what your company provide for you in office hours but it’s not really touching the sides and you’re not seeing positive, lasting change in your day to day experience. Maybe you have read or watched a veritable smorgasbord of inspiring speakers on You Tube and via platforms such as TedTalks but, still nothing has stuck.

Whatever the context, have you managed to translate anything into an action in a meaningful, lasting way? Or do you now feel even more tired and overwhelmed from ‘shoulding’ yourself and trying to add something in to an already frazzled life that really doesn’t work for you, just because it has a well being label?

If you have read thus far, please ask yourself this question. Do I have, ‘a sense of health and vitality that arises from my thoughts, emotions, actions, and experiences’? One definition of well being. If you answer no, I suspect you might be in a majority. If your answer is yes, I celebrate with you – go, shine that light!

I wonder – in a simplistic, unresearched kind of way – if, like so many words that move into the common vernacular, well being has become an ‘oh that’ word. Over-used it has perhaps lost meaning and relevance. We’re all used to it, stash it away, nothing to see here. No connection with me or action to take. Or maybe it’s, yep when I find some time I’ll sort that out.

If you are nodding and feeling like a well being loser, please don’t, as, besides the fact that guilt will just become an obstacle to action, becoming a well being has to play out in ways that work for YOU, of the start small, start somewhere variety. This is hopefully followed by a totally natural desire to build on whatever it is, because you genuinely enjoy it, feel better and what you’re doing, how you are being, actually fits in with your life, your needs, character, your body type, time availability – the holistic you.

The message, again, is, one size does not fit all. The message is also, start with rest (and reflection) and then move on to restore (and a little action).

Consider further, the definition of restore in this slightly deeper context – to re-establish yourself, bring yourself back into existence. Serious words…back into existence. True existence that has us celebrating life, glad to be here, able to embrace the challenges as opportunities to learn, celebrating the small joys in our lives with gratitude, applauding the wins of others with sincerity and solidarity.

Many of us have never asked the existential questions – where did I come from, where am I going? Or the biggie, ‘who am I?’ We haven’t learnt to be with ourselves or essentially, to be on our own and in quiet for a lengthy period of time, no radio, TV or phone a friend connection. ‘Know thyself’, said a Greek sage or two. ‘To thine own self be true’, wrote Shakespeare in Hamlet. Or Benjamin Franklin – ‘there are three things extremely hard; steel, a diamond and to know one’s self’. In the Indian spiritual traditions knowing the self is a core principal towards spiritual liberation.

This is the foundation of everything. Know yourself, love yourself, be yourself (…everyone else is taken. Heard that one? Meme fodder but so true). We need only take a nibble towards that, not a big, fat chunk in the first sitting. It needn’t be overwhelming. The journey of a thousands miles starts with one step (said another wise sage). It can also be supported by others, we are here to journey with each other.

A good place to start is the heart. Not the head. Or rather, both. There is now decades of great science (and brilliant free resources) from the Heartmath Institute to show that where previously scientists believed the heart responded to the brain’s command, there is now exciting evidence to show that in fact ‘communication between the heart and brain actually is a dynamic, ongoing, two-way dialogue, with each organ continuously influencing the other’s function. Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in four major ways: neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions).

Communication along all these conduits significantly affects the brain’s activity. Moreover, our research shows that messages the heart sends to the brain also can affect performance’.

Another exciting by product of any growth and change you create is that besides benefit to your well being, that growth benefits everyone else too! Also scientifically proven. The Heartmath Institute will tell you that it is our heart (not our brain) that produces the strongest electrical and magnetic field, sixty times stronger than the brain. The heart emits an electrical magnetic field that goes six feet beyond our body. This heart energy field interacts with other people’s energy, and the planet, and animals electrical magnetic field. We are connected; it’s not all woo after all!

So each individual person on the planet’s ‘heart coherence’ is vital. And what is heart coherence I hear you ask? The Hearthmath Institute explain it as ‘a physiological state that supports balanced interactions between our heart, mind, emotions, and physiology. This is a highly efficient state in which all of our body’s systems work together in harmony, and brain/mind, emotions and spirit align through the power of the heart…When an individual is in a state of heart coherence, we experience more balance and cooperation between our heart, mind and emotions. This uplifting, coherent energy radiates a positive electromagnetic frequency into the energy field around us’.

We can see then, we don’t need to look outside of ourselves. Everything we require is inside of each of us. This is my personal, learned experience. What we cannot get away from though, is that to access that, to ‘know thyself’, we do have to choose to slow down, find a little quiet, add in some mindful activities, learn a few simple tools to practise, and allow ourselves some true rest, some time out to be…to restore. What beautiful ingredients.

My intention is to support this. Support your inner blossoming, your heart opening, your restoration. To do it via play, movement, laughter, nature, good life-giving food and a listening ear. Simple activity can create shift. From a place of rejuvenation, you re-emerge with a fresh perspective, a new connection from the inside out, perhaps with more confidence, courage – whatever that word or words is for you, it will show up if you desire it to, intend it to and give it some space to flourish.

If you are encouraged, curious and interested in turning all these words into a practical experience, I offer my Restore with Ali experience for a half day, day, or a weekend. The ingredients of any time together are tailor made for you based on a chat by Zoom or phone with me and an ‘Insight Form’ from you. Curious? Please have a look at my website and feel free to contact me if you would like to explore further.

Ali Coutts
November 2022

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