The second part of “The Power of Rest”, which was published June 8th by Harper One, is about how to give life rhythm and flow. That’s achieved by combining and timing active rest techniques to make people healthier, feel and look younger, and also gain the chance for more powerful and frequent peak experiences.
As a doctor I’ve often spoken to people towards the end of their lives. What do they talk about? A few go on about money or the positions they held. Yet most talk about what was really important to them – their relationships and their experiences, often their vacations.
On vacations, people have adventures, learn new ways of looking at the world, and also have a chance to really rest and revive.
So I want people to have those kinds of experiences many times a day through active rest, recognizing that with the right script we can use the body’s ability to quickly and nearly completely rebuild itself to act powerfully in our interest. As a doctor I know you can’t stop fate or change genetics – but you want to give people the best chance to put the odds in their favor. Combining activity with rest, as in the simple daily rhythm of FAR (Food-Activity-Rest) can go a long way in getting people healthier. Even the simple rhythm of alternating physical with mental rest, using each to revive the other, can be combined through our natural body clocks to increase performance and pleasure in even the simplest tasks.
There are times to rest and times to be active. Activity and rest are really parts of the same coin, because they are so allied with each other.
Many people want to avoid Alzheimer’s. I tell them the best thing they can do, given present knowledge, is to be physically active during the day. Then, at night, new brain cells will be grow in memory areas, cells that will quickly be used to process, remember or forget the enormous amount of information accumulated during the day. You need both activity and rest to make the brain and body grow, adapt, and become healthier and more skilled.
Getting to feel younger, to look younger, just won’t happen by itself. You need the right script so your body and brain can change in the ways you want. That, too, is the power of rest. Intelligently combining active rest techniques and providing a rhythm to life may not make you taller, but it may make you wiser and give you experiences that will let you feel and look more alert and alive, physically leaner, and more capable of combating stress.
For life can be filled with flow, the way to reach peak experience through ordinary activities pioneered by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The many active rest techniques can also be used as flow techniques, experiences where you are so engrossed in what you are doing that time dilates or simply dissolves. Flow also engages rhythm and music. People often ask me why we like music so much, and I tell them it’s because we are innately musical. Our nervous system and many of our cellular communications are rhythmic. Music is in our genes.
So you want to make life musical. You do that by combining active rest techniques at the right times, moving and resting in a rhythm that gives time a fine musical feel. That, too, can be achieved through the power of rest, when you give your body and mind the right directions to rebuild themselves the way you want. In a time of stress and when health care in this country is falling apart, you want your own kind of personal health insurance, the kind you control and that no one can take away from you, the kind that can make you feel more alive each day.