Rest. Is it even possible?

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Rest: is it even possible?

The wise woman waters her garden first. The Tao of Women

Please fit your oxygen mask before helping others. Generic scary airline advice

Each breath you inhale is exactly the same as the first breath you took at the beginning of your life. Each exhalation is the same as the last action you will ever perform on earth. The moments in between are like life in miniature, simply existing between that first breath and the last. And thus as parents and people we tread the middle path, each moment infused with life, death, joy, pain or even activity and rest. Adapted from some Zen thought

Rest is not a topic with which most of us are familiar since we’re parents and activists and lots of other things in a day as well. I wrote this between dinner and dessert at the home of a friend in Brisbane. I bet most of you reading are dashing between activities while you read! We live in a world where everything is viewed as consumable and outside of ourselves. We pay for entertainment because we have to have it provided from the outside and preferably in a big glitzy package. We define rest as being without our children, or the concerns of others, as being separate from our everyday lives.

Most women live intense lives, divided in many directions. We give give give of ourselves to our children, our activism and to the simple act of survival with which we must grapple every day of our lives in this patriarchy.

Is it possible to find rest in that maelstrom?

Is rest something we can only achieve in a darkened room with room service laid on? I’m sure most of us have fantasies about household staff, wetnurses, winning lotto, or anything that would allow us a room of our own for a day, or even an hour from time to time.

Given the unlikely nature of this happening perhaps we need to find other ways to restore ourselves or keep ourselves from disappearing down the sink of the family’s life?

One useful way to manage some mental downtime while continuing with physical work is to turn it into a meditation. Some suggestions can be to repeat a mantra while working, perhaps fold washing and say “May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be loved” as you fold each piece, while picturing a family member in your head. Children can really get into this kind of process.

Some people do Walking Meditation where they repeat a phrase, mantra or word, or even listen to a meditation on headphones as they walk in a park. You can use this skill while walking to the bus stop with children, or while mowing the grass. Reading up on meditation styles can help us find more ways to use techniques like this.

In a recent surge of reading around Zen I found myself trying to practice as I walked with the kids. I concentrated since they were talking to each other then I realised they were talking to me. Yes yes, stop it, I thought, I’m trying to meditate! Then I walked on feeling irritated and hard done by that I couldn’t even get five minutes to meditate in peace! Then I realised what I was doing and burst out laughing. The practice was to be in the moment, right? To be aware of the surroundings, right? And there I was trying to create a false reality, a Silent place where I could Meditate. As if! Life is the meditation, paying attention to reality is the meditation. I mentally poked myself and got over trying to be Special then I reclaimed my good mood and moved along feeling wiser, smarter, dumber and way human.

As we continue to advocate for women in birth both politically and personally we can find ourselves running short on energy. What to do? Acknowledge those feelings, they are real. Honour the manner in which you have come to feel that burn out or exhaustion because it was in thinking of others and trying to do good that we have become tired.

What will sustain us through this slog? The first three things that popped into my head were love, community and integrity. Well love is an obvious one. Love for birth, love for each other, love for ourselves, our sisters, daughters and sons who are born from our bodies gently or pulled from us violently. Knowing that what we do is right. Community! Finding, cherishing and maintaining our community, our chosen families. Integrity brings rest because when we act within its parameters we lose no sleep over our actions now or in the future.

The work we do is inspired by each other, our capacity to survive and thrive and our birthing and parenting is perhaps a form of passive resistance to the oppression we face daily.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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This entry was posted in consumers, consumers' rights, just for fun, parenting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Rest. Is it even possible?

  1. Pingback: No rules without reason « The Recovering Procrastinator

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Rest. Is it even possible? « Janet Fraser --

  3. I’ve totally been in moments like your meditation where you are trying to be all calm and then get annoyed with people for interrupting your calm! :) Too funny. I love your practical ideas, though, for incorporating mindful rest into our days. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  6. What an important thing to remember! You’re right – advocacy can be incredibly tiring, because it seems we are always fighting our way upstream. If I didn’t have such a supportive group of women, I don’t think I could go on!

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  11. Melodie says:

    I like your idea of meditating with kids. I am hoping to enroll my 5 year old in a school next year that teaches meditation and yoga. I think it will be good for both of us to do a better job at learning to rest our minds.

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  15. What a beautifully written and thought provoking post. It is important for us to consider how we are living each day in the midst of accomplishing the many things we hope to fulfill and also to remember that this process is viewed by others and makes an impact. I am not rushing as I read this post nor as I move away from it.

  16. Janet says:

    Thanks, everyone. It’s great to have you all drop by! The carnival is just lovely.

  17. “Finding, cherishing and maintaining our community, our chosen families. Integrity brings rest because when we act within its parameters we lose no sleep over our actions now or in the future.

    The work we do is inspired by each other, our capacity to survive and thrive and our birthing and parenting is perhaps a form of passive resistance to the oppression we face daily.”

    This made me cry. I’ve been so overwhelmed lately by this wonderful community of natural parent bloggers – first with this carnival over the months and then with my carnival of gentle discipline. I really feel like I gain energy and hope from all the other mothers out there staying up late at night after their babes sleep doing this thing called blogging.

    Some call blogging a vanity project but I see everyday that this is not true. We know what we are doing is right and we work tirelessly together.

  18. Janet says:

    I think people who don’t know it really underestimate the power of cybercommunity. Thank you for sharing. *hug*

  19. Amber says:

    I am laughing because I can totally relate to your mental response when your children were speaking to you. I strive to be mindful myself, and so often miss the point. Hopefully, one day, I’ll get it.

  20. LOL loved the whole “I’m trying to be ONE with my surroundings, now be quiet!”. I can totally related to that! I think the only time I get any mental rest is coding/designing sites, photography, and getting a shower lol.

  21. Pingback: Public Natural Parenting Creates a Culture of Positive Parenting Role Models

  22. Having a rambunctious, sensitive and at times anxious toddler, I love the idea of meditation!

  23. Luschka says:

    Without the online birthing and parenting communities I would have had a totally different introduction to parenthood. I think many of my parenting ideas would have been the same, but the execution would probably have been different. My birth, however, would probably have been the standard, run of the mill, hospital/intervention/c-sec birth that is prominent here… I am eternally grateful to this community for giving me this experience, and with it a new passion, and a new way of life.

  24. Janet says:

    I’m (slightly) startled and very glad that what I wrote has resonated with other parents who’ve dropped by. Thanks, everyone!

    Luschka, the transformative potential of online information and discussion is really underrated. Thanks for sharing.

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