Learning how to rest

Sometimes, you just need a break. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Well, this hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn. As I’ve admitted on my blog many times before, I tend to be of the mind frame that more activity is always better. More exercise, more repetitions, more movement, more more more. I’ve never slept much and honestly never had much of an appreciation for sleep partially because I felt like it was taking time away from doing other activities. Why “waste” time sleeping when I can learn a new skill, read a book, play music or create something? As a result, I haven’t always had much respect for the impact that proper rest can have in an intensive training regimen.

After almost 14 months of relentless physical training and rehab, repetitions, visualization exercises, thousands and thousands of attempts to connect my mind to my body and vice versa and reestablish those damaged neural connections… finally, I took a break.

I came to Hawaii with my girlfriend and spent a week fully unplugging from my intensive training and letting my body do something it hasn’t done since I was lying in a hospital bed last year: rest. I didn’t train in any way, I didn’t even do any mental exercises, I just completely tried to let myself forget my routine and enjoy these moments of rest and relaxation. The result was an incredible week of quality time with my girlfriend, some of the best sleep of my life, healing some extremely overused and tired shoulders and arms, and a near constant enjoyment of the present moment. At times, I can even say that I almost forgot about my injury completely, which was an incredible blessing.

Ok so in all honesty, I wasn’t completely inactive the whole time. Thanks to my girlfriend’s persistent urging, we got into a double kayak and spent almost an entire day paddling up a quiet river into the peaceful jungle. I didn’t think my core was strong enough to handle even five minutes in a kayak, but her insistence that I was ready and able was right. Proof:

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This trip is part rest and part therapy as I’ll now spend the next several days working with yet another practitioner, a person who’s had astounding results treating SCI with her own creative and unique approach using her system of Neurokinetic Pilates and emphasizing neuroplasticity, the belief that the brain and nervous system can rewire and repair itself. I’ll write about my experience with her in my next post, but for now, I’m still enjoying the tail end of this badly needed and deserved rest.

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48 thoughts on “Learning how to rest

  1. It sounds like you might need to incorporate rest into your schedule more often. It’s amazing what a few days rest can achieve. You must be pleased with your paddling efforts!!!! 🙂 Love the pix.

  2. Dear Arash, your post brought a great big smile to my face. I am so glad to hear what you are saying about resting and enjoying yourself and to see your lovely photos. Good for you! All best wishes, Melanie 🙂

  3. Sounds so good to hear that you enjoyed yourself. I am looking forward to hearing about your continued success.

  4. It is good to see someone living in the moment & in its real sense of the word!
    As you say, it’s well deserved & I’m sure is just as much part of the therapy as the exercises.
    It is nice to participate in your recovery. Thanks for sharing the lessons you learn along the way, your growth & wisdom.

  5. I love his post and find them so inspirational. Have a Happy Thanksgiving an a great engagement party

    Sent from Windows Mail

  6. I can only echo the above comments. I am so happy for you. Sometimes just kicking back is treatment. And being in such a lovely place with such a beautiful person to help you reach yet another goal – man it just doesn’t get much better than that no matter the condition. Love to her and, as always, hang in there from me. Jack

  7. Hi, nice to hear about you again. In your post , you may well have put your finger on an important part of the recovery process: rest and lots of sleep. I read a book a couple of wears ago , My Stroke Of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor. She works in neuro sciences at Harvard and suffered a stroke at age 37…
    Her book relate her story and that of her recovery. And you know what, she mentioned that she had to rest a lot to allow her brain to reconstruct itself; after all, you have to manufacture a new matter and design! All that takes up a lot of energy.
    Keep up the good work and have fun in Hawii.
    Thérèse

  8. I felt relaxed just reading your post! So happy you were able to get away from it all for a week and what a blessing you have with your girlfriend! Sending you good energy as you rest, heal and continue on your journey! Can’t wait to hear about the new therapist!

  9. …..and a well deserved break it is too.

    It’s all very well to have a routine (and mine is pretty repetitious), but doing something completely different is not only restful for the Mind and Body, but calming for the Soul.

    I’m delighted to hear your girlfriend was able to persuade you to go kayaking. Now that….. is just about perfect. Still keeping up some movement, but allowing yourself to melt into the rhythm of paddling through the water has to be restful. You have the beauty all around you in Nature, the company of the perfect friend & partner, and the smooth even strokes of mindful paddling. For that’s what it is – Mindful Movement. You have to do it smoothly, evenly and in rhythm with your partner so you have to think & breathe Mindfully (in the Moment).

    I recommend one of these type of week-long breaks every 2-3 months (if you can manage it). I’m sure you’ll return home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated with all that fresh air & beauty.

    Nice set of shoulder & back muscles…..by the way (and look of it).

    (Just because I’m nearly 60 doesn’t mean I can’t eye off a young, well-toned physique – lol).

    1. Your description of the Mindful Movement was absolutely spot on. The kayaking experience was exactly that. Paddling through the water, with those gorgeous surroundings was an incredible experience. I would love to build in that 1 week break that often, especially now that I know the value of rest -AB

  10. Dude what’d you to your arms and back? Did you get mauled by tropical bugs, an infection, a reaction to the heat? You got bumps all over them? 😉

    Glad you and the misses got some deserved rest and exploration.

  11. I’m glad you had a nice holiday and I hope you enjoyed the kayak too. I hope you fell better after resting and I hope you feel refreshed to start routine again.

  12. I’ve always been a big believer in the power of good sleep! (as those who know me well would verify) And how wonderful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterwards. Well done Arash, sounds like a wonderful break. And dude, you look ripped.

  13. I read this almost as soon as you posted it but haven’t had a chance to comment until now. I think we all need to recognize the importance of rest. I know I try to deny it, but I really do feel better and perform better when well-rested. And the same goes for our healing bodies. They need rest in equal proportion to intensive exercise and work. One isn’t possible without the other. Glad you and Brita had fun. Looks like a wonderful time. 🙂

    1. Yeah I never believed in the rest thing, I frankly just didn’t need much rest and could always do what I wanted, physically, mentally, whatever. But now is a different situation and I have to understand that -AB

  14. What an amazing surprise your kayak triumph must have been. Sometimes it takes the eyes of someone else to help us realize how strong and capable we have actually become. Here’s to many more water-based adventures and explorations in your future!

  15. Wise move to do something entirely different for a while. It is very good for your mind as well as your body. As a sleep specialist, I highly recommend getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night. The body repairs and restores itself when you sleep. Growth hormone is secreted when you are in deep sleep, so you do yourself a disservice by trying to stay awake longer than your body is programmed by nature. So glad to hear you enjoyed your break so much. Keep listening to your girlfriend. She sounds like a great asset to you.

    1. She is an incredible asset, to say the least. She is so many great things to me. I’m learning that lesson about quality sleep little by little. Glad I can finally understand it and put it into use. Here’s to more sleep! -AB

  16. Before you (we) recover fully… wouldn’t this be some fuuuun!! http://www.designboom.com/design/ziesel-off-road-wheelchair-conquers-all-weather-and-terrain-12-02-2013/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=e-mail&utm_source=subscribers
    My friend and I were saying that someone should do a spinal cord injury version of “Top Gear” (BBC – the latest road trip special was hilarious) – and I immediately thought of you – there’s an adventure idea …. just for now ….!

  17. I’m so glad you tried kayaking! It’s one of the most freeing things I have tried since my injury. I highly recommend a moonlight paddle if you ever get the chance.

  18. Arash. I am just curious if maybe with all the strength and conditioning that you are working on for your full recovery (it shows) is hindering the recovery of the nervous system that controls your damaged nervous system. Sometimes you can train your mind/brain for None Use. There are techniques and programs to accommodate Specific Use Training

    1. That’s an interesting thought. I’m not sure how I could measure that. What I can tell you is that a lot of the rehab and exercise I do isn’t so much based on strength or conditioning but more about retraining the neural pathways that are damaged. I imagine that what I’m doing is helping and not hindering as I realize that brute strength training isn’t exactly what I need, which is why I’ve embarked on the therapy that I do. If you have any suggestions on Specific Use Training, I’m all ears… -AB

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