Life of Carmen, Uncategorized, Upaya Zen Center, Zen & Dharma

Give it a rest

Shinzen, the Mexican head monk and kitchen manager, sat down beside me in the shade as I ate my lunch of orzo and sweet beets. “The most important thing in life,” he said, “is to have fun. You need to enjoy your work and you need to enjoy your rest.”

Yesterday and today were my first “days off” at Upaya. These are days when I am released from samu—work practice. My only obligation on these days is to attend at least one zazen. For the rest of the time, I am gravely admonished to take it easy.

In my latest spasm of painful indecision Brigitte advised me that what I really need is to take an intermission before my next mission. The pause between notes. But is interesting how much I resist the idea of rest. Rest isn’t slacking off—slacking off is avoidance, but rest is acceptance, and it makes the work possible. Meditation is hard work but I notice that when my mind races I can sometimes ease it off by gently telling myself, “give it a rest.” And then for just a  moment or two, I find refreshment and release.

So yesterday I wandered around Santa Fe, toured the Cathedral, bought a quesadilla from a cart in the plaza square. I lay on my back by the trickling river watching lizards and birds. Today I went for a morning bikeride through the canyon and a gentle hike up the trails. Napped. And then in the scorching heat of the day I put on my red summer dress and sashayed along the river trail to The Tea House, where I ordered an iced latte and sat in the shady courtyard, reading a novel for hours. Finding rest, well-deserved and sweet.

3 Comments on “Give it a rest

  1. “Rest isn’t slacking off—slacking off is avoidance, but rest is acceptance, and it makes the work possible”

    That is going up on my wall. Then some time soon I’m going to find a quiet place and see if I can “give it a rest”, even if only for a moment or two at first.


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