For most of the pandemic, I was good about working out but struggled with motivation to do strength training. I kept trying to incorporate strength into my routine but inevitably fell out of the habit. This was until last year when I finally cracked the code of inconsistency and developed a pattern of doing 3 days focusing on strength, and 3 days focusing on cardio. Fortunately, the realities of math and my calendar led to me designating Friday as my day of rest.
What did my rest day activities include? Most often I would do yoga to ensure some flexibility balanced out the strength and cardio work. It didn’t take long until I saw Friday as “yoga day” and decided to complete the theme at night by substituting restorative yoga in for my normal meditation practice.
And you know what? I loved it. It was nice to mix things up. It was nice to get back to a practice I hadn’t done for a while. It was nice to remind myself that my practice was mine and I could tailor it to suit my needs. After a long work week, it was nice to emphasize rest and my body more and my mind little bit less.
I have touted consistency on this blog before and I won’t depart from that wisdom any time soon. But meditation is a practice for life and it will come with ebbs and flows. At times, it may also come with boredom and malaise. Variety is one way to stave those things off or recover from them. In this way, even if the “rest day” is slightly less consistent, it is conducive overall to preserving mindfulness as a habit long-term.
Now, you may wonder how to incorporate a mental rest day if you aren’t a fan of restorative yoga. In truth, the name of a “mental rest day” is a bit of a misnomer because many mindfulness practices may include a rest for the mind. This is actually a good thing, though, because it means options for mixing up your meditation practice are myriad.
Here are some ideas beyond restorative yoga for trying your own mental rest day:
- Meditate in a new setting. Put some earbuds on, prop yourself up comfortably, and take a warm bath. Try a mindful shower (they are glorious). Meditate outside in a serene location on a nice evening.
- Try a guided meditation if you usually use silence. Try silence if you usually use guiding. Play some relaxing music while you meditate in place of either.
- Try mindful movement, including walking meditation, qi gong, or tai chi.
- Go to a community meditation event or a yoga class with a meditation included and experience the support of meditation with others, whether virtually or online.
- Try a new kind of meditation practice. If you usually do breath practice, incorporate body scan, loving-kindness or a new kind of noting practice such as mindfulness of sounds.
When it comes to physical fitness, the idea of a “rest” day is so standard that it’s almost a no-brainer. The reason for this is clear: our bodies need time to recover from physical training and exertion. This same idea often holds true for our minds too. If you need a break or just want to try something new, consider incorporating a mental rest day into your mindfulness practice.
Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.
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