Contemplations for the New Year - Part 3: The intersection of rest, pleasure and joy


One of the loveliest things about being in Australia over the holidays is the real relaxation and unwinding that happens in this week between Christmas and New Year. 

This year, in particular, the dates line up so nicely for people to take the week off work, that the city feels super quiet. My apartment building is almost empty, there are much fewer lights on across the valley of my suburb. 

I love it. 

This unwind week is just what my inner introvert needs after the crazy social relentlessness of December, culminating in lack of sleep, a full-on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and one very burned out Naomi.

On Christmas Day, I got home around 5.30, sat on the couch for half an hour so (just sheer exhaustion) and then had a 90 minute bath. During this time, everything was quiet, no neighbour sounds, no sounds from outside except the odd bird or cicada. No music, no screens, just me. And a book. And a warm bath.

When I got out, I put on my new satin robe (thank you Santa) and pottered around the house, amazed at how much better I felt. Silence. Stillness. Rest. Pleasure. Joy. 

This has me thinking about the intersection between rest, pleasure and joy. Clearly my mind and my body needed rest. And the physical pleasure of a bath added  something that just lying on the bed or the couch wouldn't have done. The restful silence also played its part. And because I followed my instincts on these things, it felt joyful. Not excited, giddy joy. But deeply peaceful joy. 

I've long understood love, joy and peace to be inextricably linked - you can't really have one without the other two, they have dependent DNA.

But this bathing experience demonstrated to me how quickly I can begin to reverse exhaustion, burn out, and social over-exposure. It's not all I needed - the whole next day I spoke to no one, moved through the day as my body dictated and spent a lot of time lying down. Yet the profound improvement from 90 mins of this intersection of pleasure and rest produced this deep joy. 

It was healing. It was beautiful. And it was born from listening to what I needed, and what would make me feel better. 

Pleasure as a focus

The message of the importance of pleasure has been coming to me a lot recently. I'm listening. 

It's so counter-cultural to believe that building life to embody as much pleasure as we can is over-indulgent, selfish, immature or reckless. We're taught to work hard, achieve a lot, build wealth, power and empires. Push push push. More more more. External measures all. 

But for the most part, when we really stop and consider things, that which can really feel pleasurable isn't fancy, expensive or exclusive. A warm bath, on my own, with a book.

Simple. Easy to achieve. A little time and some hot water.

Other simple pleasures that spring to mind: 
Morning coffee
Sunshine on my back
The beach
The laughter of a child
My daily shower
Getting into bed each night

Sure, money buys more options, perhaps additions to the pleasure...nicer sheets, better coffee, quieter beaches, higher quality chocolate. 

But the core pleasure is there for almost all of us.

So why wouldn't we want to maximise the deep physical and mental benefit from really enjoying and embodying that pleasure?

Rest as a focus

If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know I usually have a pretty strong focus on rest. But I feel like I'm still just scratching the surface of what resting really means. 

This bathing experience showed me that option for increased pleasure meant deeper rest. The bath, as opposed to simply lying on the bed, meant greater physical relaxation, greater sense of peace and it calmed my nervous system. And that means greater rest. 

It's my personal believe that 2023 really will be better experienced by those who are seeking and achieving rest - deep, habitual as a lifestyle not just a thing we do when we have to. There seems to be a pressure in the air about it, as if humans need to learn this now, or we'll end up burning ourselves out irreversebly. 

The Intersection of Pleasure and Rest Produces Joy

This is where my thinking has landed me...there's some magic in the place where pleasure and rest intersect. And that magic is joy. 

A still, peaceful joy. 

This is what I want to seek more of in 2023. It involves deep listening to my does it feel? What does it need? What would feel like pleasure right now? What would be restful? 

I want to get to the end of 2023 feeling deeply, permanently rested. So rested that when days come that have been started with less sleep that is desirable, my core sense of rest is still full. 

And part of this is the listening, but then other parts of the choice to follow the body. Trusting that the body knows best. And then it also requires building trust between your body and your decision-making self. If you can't do what the body longs for right now, are you trustworthy when you say "I'll do that later". 


Will you?


How does your body feel about 2023? What does it want from the new year? How might it want your choices to change? What would feel pleasurable to it? If you're not planning to do that, why not? 

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