Friday, December 31, 2021
How to rest well
I do think that we sleep too much and rest too little for fear of falling asleep. It takes fifteen minutes to drop into the theta state of rest. sustaining that for much longer than fifteen minutes is hard. Coasting for another thirty is likely good enough to perhaps hit a deep sleep as well. deep sleep likely lasts way too long.
what is clear is that a deep plunge for even fifteen minutes makes you fully rejuvenated and this should be an objective.
Now imagine a four hour sleep cycle for night and perhaps two half hour deep meditation cycles through the day six or so hours apart. Our problem is to optimize all this and to actually impliment it all. This is going to actually take technology. It will be very valuable abd every one on earth will have it as part of his cell phone system.
How to rest well
Taking a break isn’t lazy – learning to recharge is a skill that will allow you to enjoy a more creative, sustainable life
by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Woman Resting (c1942) by Lilian Westcott Hale. Courtesy the Florence Griswold Museum
Alex Soojung-Kim Pangis the founder of Strategy and Rest, a Silicon Valley-based consulting company that helps companies design and implement four-day working weeks. His books The Distraction Addiction (2013), Rest (2018) and Shorter (2020) have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He has a PhD in history of science and lives in California.
Edited by Christian Jarrett
Attitudes to rest have changed
Downtime is undervalued in today’s busy, always-on world. But for most of human history, rest – time in which we can recharge the mental and physical batteries we use while labouring – was prized as a gift. To Aristotle, work was drudgery and necessity; only in leisure could we cultivate our mental and moral abilities, and become better people. In The Sabbath (1951), Rabbi Abraham Heschel argued that, in Judaism, this day of rest was more than just a pause in the week, it was a ‘palace in time … made of soul, of joy and reticence’. Even for the less philosophically inclined, leisure provided the time and freedom to do what they loved. When George Washington retired from public life in 1759, he threw himself into building and maintaining Mount Vernon, an enterprise that, according to the historian William Abbot, ‘had on him a stronger and more enduring hold than did either war or politics’.
Today, though, it’s become commonplace to think of work and rest as opposites. Work is active and valuable: it’s where we prove our worth and create a legacy. Popular books such as What You Do Is Who You Are (2019) by the venture capitalist Ben Horowitz carry the implication that being and doing are synonymous. Busyness is a badge of honour, even a sign of moral superiority. Rest, in contrast, is often treated as if it’s passive and pointless. Indeed, I’ve noticed many people hardly think of rest as its own thing. It’s just a negative space defined by the absence of work.
The importance of rest
Rest is as essential to a good life, and a productive career, as work. Overwork is bad for individuals and organisations: a long period without adequate rest burns people out and wrecks company productivity. A deep dive into the lives of history’s most accomplished scientists, writers and even generals reveals that they laboured far fewer hours than do many people in today’s industrialised Western societies, and they crafted daily routines that balanced periods of intensive labour with downtime.
In his book The Use of Life (1895), the Victorian author John Lubbock wrote:
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summers day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means a waste of time.
Lubbock spoke from experience. He himself was an innovator in the world of finance, a noted archaeologist (he coined the terms Neolithic and Palaeolithic, and used his wealth to save the ancient stone circle at Avebury), and a political reformer who led the campaign for bank holidays; yet he found time to retreat to his family estate at Downe in Kent, where he spent time playing cricket, entertaining friends, and talking about natural history with his next door neighbour Charles Darwin.
Recent work in neuroscience and psychology supports this approach to rest, showing how it allows us to recharge and stimulate our creativity, and gives us the mental space to cultivate new insights, and even helps us have longer, more sustainable creative lives. Moreover, studies show that good rest is not idleness. The most restorative forms of rest are active, not passive. Further, rest is a skill: with practice, you can learn to get better at it, and to get more out of it.
So I believe we should not regard work and rest as opposites, but partners. Each supports and justifies the other. Each provides things that every person needs. You won’t fully flourish unless you master both work and rest.