Today I begin the next chapter of my life. As I set sail into the fourth quarter of the year, I'm forging ahead with clear purpose, direction and intention. I'm readier than ever to take on teaching four courses, 80 students and one adventure (provided a certain volcano doesn't erupt – I'm hopeful).
My intention moving forward, and one I'm integrating into my teaching - is pulsation. This was confirmed recently in the book Peak Performance that I just finished. The author provided this definition of growth:
Stress + Rest = Growth
In order to show up at our best, function optimally and achieve success both physically and mentally – we need to balance giving everything we've got with turning off, slowing down and complete rest and rejuvenation.
It's somewhat of a science figuring out the "right" amount of both for each one of us. Since we're all different, we need different amounts of each to find equilibrium.
I know this from personal experience with my sleep quality. If I don't have a strong exercise session in the morning (stress) with a solid meditation practice (rest) then I don't sleep as well. Also, if there's too much mental stimulation (stress) and not enough wind down time at night (rest) then I'll end up tossing and turning at night and unable to shut my mind off. To find the "right" amount of each takes some experimenting, observing cause and effect of your actions and tweaking the amount of stress and rest you experience until you get it just right and sleep tight. The more stress you experience, the more rest you need to counter it.
Let me clarify the "stress" part. We're often conditioned to think of stress is a bad thing. But stress is only a bad thing if you think it is. Studies show that how you perceive stress affects the physiological impact it will have on you. If you see stress as a way of preparing your body to meet the challenges you’re faced with, you can embrace that heightened physical and mental state as your body's way of saying: "Bring it on!". On the other hand, if you tell yourself that your stress is killing you, it will.
We need both physical and mental stress. Our muscles only grow then we break them down enough so that when they repair, they grow back stronger. We grow mentally when we step out of our comfort zone, explore new territories and learn new things. We need to continually push our edges and seek out just manageable challenges in all areas of our lives – body + mind to grow strong.
Where do you lie on the spectrum of getting enough stress and rest? Are you overworked and underslept? Or do you need to light a fire under your ass and push yourself a bit more?