We all know how to rest our bodies, right? Just put your feet up, slouch, and do nothing. Simple. But does this stop your mind from staying busy? Probably not. So how do you rest your mind?
The first thing to watch for is words. As soon as a sentence starts to form, just let it dissolve into mist; don’t let yourself finish the sentence. Words seem to occupy a part of the brain in which thoughts start somewhere, move in a certain line, and end up somewhere else. Lots of straight lines and connections.
What we need to cultivate is the part of the brain where emotions are in charge. This appears to be much more random or pixelated manner. We get in touch with this part of the brain in the arts. (By the way, the popular idea that the left brain is logical and right brain creative is too simplistic, although most people have language dominance in the left hemisphere).
The other thing to watch for is images forming. As soon as you notice a picture appearing in your mind, you also actively let it dissolve.
Now this may all seem a bit simplistic or hard to do. But consider what happens when you go to sleep. You have to let go of the normal tendency to rationalise. So unless you’re a serious insomniac, you already know how to do this.
Resting the mind is then, a bit like going to sleep, only you stay awake! In fact it’s really easy. The one trick, is being 100% present, now. If you just let data from your senses flow through you but without any data processing (comments or judgements), and stay in this flow of now-ness, you can rest the body and the mind – staying awake yet totally restful.
Of course if you need a prop in this process, it’s back to experiencing the breath. Given that the breath is always moving, if you follow its progress without distraction, you will stay present. Experience this now-ness with bare attention, and you will see that it’s a place of great spaciousness and freedom. And that’s a good place to rest.