Much as we’d like to believe we’re capable of working nonstop, the fact of the matter is we need rest. I learned that the hard way this weekend at a conference for work. Running from session to session, handing out business cards and trying to be heard over 700 other people in the lobby – it’s draining, it’s time-consuming, and no matter how much fun you’re having or how productive you’re being, you need to take the time to rest, during and after. Radha Madhav Dham has always been helpful in this regard. Distancing ones’ self from the world, putting responsibilities and commitments at a physical remove is an important step to relaxing the mind.
More importantly, devotion is good for the body! It lowers your heart rate, focuses your breathing, eases your stress and replenishes the spirit. It takes all of the exhaustion you have and smooths it away, as easy as making a bed. There are times in the prayer hall I think I can feel Krishna’s hand on my head, caressing my mind and making it worry-free.
Seva is an excellent cure for exhaustion, provided your body isn’t physically depleted and can commit to doing a little more work. Not only is service to the temple a good change of pace from our jobs and chores, it’s also done for the good of spiritual seekers who come to visit, for other devotees who live in the ashram, for God himself. Sometimes, the cure for work is different work, to reinvigorate the sense of duty, and develop a feeling for completing tasks. Washing dishes in the community kitchen, handing out chanting sheets in the prayer hall, clearing rocks from a path on the hill…all of these opportunities bring a renewed sense of purpose into my life, something more fulfilling than answering emails or reading applications.
Ignoring the body’s need for rest is a surefire way to future troubles. There have been countless studies done on the relationship between stress and heart disease. Sleep deprivation can become a real thing, and quickly develops worse symptoms than baggy eyes and a coffee habit. Just as ignoring devotion causes detriment to our spiritual lives, ignoring our body when it tells us to slow down will most certainly result in chaos. So treat them as one and the same problem. When the world exhausts you, throw yourself into spirituality. Better yet, keep your mind fixed on God, and the world will cease to wear on you. Find the balance that is right for you, but do not forget to listen to your body. It knows you better.