Focus on rest: Refresh and release

Focus on rest is a meditation path where we work with restful states in all of the senses. 

This path gives us tools to explore silence around us and silence within us. We cultivate relaxation in the body and peace in the emotions, and the hidden rest that is found in both the outer and inner fields of vision.

Benefits of Focus on Rest

You experience more peace

Everyone experience moments of rest during the day. By focusing on these peaceful moments, they are experienced as even more pleasant and refreshing. Also, they last longer and are experienced more deeply.

You can also use this technique to create more peace during the day, even when you experience stress, are hurried or feel hyperactive.

If you relax in the body, the mind will follow. With a little practice, you notice how resting in one place in one sense often triggers rest in other places. For example, by listening to silence, you become more relaxed in your body.

You create more mental balance

When you focus on rest, you create a container of equanimity. Inside this container, discomfort such as pain, fatigue, heat, cold, drowsiness and hunger can come and go with less stickiness. This makes the discomfort bother you less.

Even if you do not directly focus on the discomfort, it is still processed by your deeper mind. It helps to give it a kind of massage.

The most effective tool we have to remove blockages is equanimity. We can create equanimity by noticing and appreciating rest.

Read more about how equanimity reduces the sufffering in the article on the pain equation

You can reinforce positive emotions

Learning to cultivate restful states allows you to have a source of satisfaction that is always available no matter what happens.

It helps you find something inside you that is happy and calm for no external reason. It allows you to find greater joy in everything you can enjoy.

You can create a positive feedback loop

The more you concentrate on resting states, the better you feel. This motivates you to concentrate even more.

By actively focusing (concentration) on a state of rest (sensory clarity), more peace arises in the body and the mind (equanimity). This equanimity motivates you and makes it easier to concentrate more.

This smart strategy creates a positive feedback loop that strengthens your concentration. It is an easy way to get a sense of how a highly concentrated state feels.

Once you have become familiar with this condition, you will find that you can have it during other activities, such as studying, working, with your partner, with your children, in sports, music, art or other creativity – or any other activity.

You can quickly recharge the batteries

Focusing on rest for a few minutes is a good way to get more energy during the day. It increases the quality of sleep when falling asleep.

With practice it can even be an alternative to sleep.

Focus on rest: A strategy for finding and creating rest

There are two main methods to  Focus on rest. We call one relative rest and the other absolute rest. The following technique is an example of relative rest. If you want to learn more about absolute rest, you can read more here.

This specific technique has also used in this study on meditation and resting states : The brain on silent: mind wandering, mindful awareness, and states of mental tranquility

  1. Start by placing some of your attention on the darkness/light in front of/behind closed eyes and some of your attention all over your body. Start by putting the label FEEL REST (when you feel the relaxation in the body/ peaceful emotion or SEE REST (the experience of darkness and/or light in front of/behind the eyes / blank inner screen) or HEAR REST (a pause in inner talk however long it lasts / external silence)
    • If you are aware of rest in the body or the emotions, use the label FEEL REST
    • If you notice that there is a blank instead of mental images or rest in the external sight, use the label SEE REST
    • If you notice silence around you or a pause between the words inside your head, use the label HEAR REST
    • If, at some point, two or three are present, just choose one to focus on. It does not matter which.
    • Focus on the specific experience of rest for a few seconds (4-6) – if it does not disappear immediately
    • After a few seconds, note and label again – either the same sensory event or another.
  2. Let other things happen in the background just the way they do.
  • While you are focusing on rest, other things will probably happen, perhaps quite intensely. That’s okay. Just let it happen in the background of your attention, while the foreground of your attention is occupied with REST.
  • If you are drawn into one of these distractions, return kindly and calmly to FEEL REST or SEE REST or HEAR REST.

You can still focus on rest even if there is a lot of unrest

  • Remember that experiencing rest does not require that your body or mind be completely free from all discomfort, stress or unrest.
  • You can have a lot of restlessness in your mind and body and still make the technique absolutely perfect!

You have choices

  • You can speak or think labels or note without use labels, according to what works best for you at a given time.
  • You can zoom in, zoom out, zoom both ways or not intentionally zoom at all, depending on what works best for you at any given time.
  • You can decide to consciously limit what you notice to just one or two aspects or you can choose to move freely between them.

There are many ways to experience rest

For example, you can consciously seek rest in the body by:

  • focus on how the muscles relax in a calm posture.
  • notice how the breathing muscles automatically relax when you exhale.
  • notice when your body is without emotional emotions.

Remember that you can create rest

You can consciously create rest states by:

  • consciously tense parts of the body, e.g. raising your shoulders for a few seconds and then relaxing
  • stretch up and sink into your position to create a feeling that your whole body is resting
  • slowly open your eyes and then close them to enhance the experience of light/darkness
  • consciously listen to white noise, such as waterfalls and river noise