May has been a quiet month for me as I took a three week break from writing and all the publicity for my novel The Buddhist CEO. The importance of rest is something that has really struck me these past few weeks and how easy it is in this modern world to not get enough rest. A theme of my novel is just how difficult it is to find that balance between a peaceful contemplative life and being able to make money in order to live. My life has slowed down a lot from my CEO days but this year, perhaps to my surprise, I haven't taken enough rest. So here are a few thoughts on this subject.
Before I share these thoughts I will share what happened with the novel during May. I have been busy arranging a lot of podcasts and interviews for June but I was delighted to appear on LA Talk Radio to discuss my novel on the show of Monique Lore Stinson. This was my third appearance on her show and I am so happy that Monique enjoyed the book so much she keeps inviting me back. Click the link to listen to the show. I am the second guest and I enter the show on 17 minutes and 30 seconds if you want to jump forward to it.
Writing my first novel was a dream come true. Like many people I often wondered if there was a book in me. Regular readers of this blog will know that I had to take early retirement on medical grounds and leave my role as a CEO. On reflection I can see now that I worked too hard and this contributed to my illness, which I have written about in previous posts. This was hard to admit to myself in some ways. Here I was trying to follow the Buddha
way. A life that has living peacefully and contemplatively at its core but I had allowed myself to get burnt out due to over working. However, I recognise that as a Buddhist an important part of our practice is compassion. The hardest aspect of compassion is self compassion.
Reflecting back on my CEO journey I can see that like many humans I was just trying to do the best I could in the circumstances that I found myself in. Earning money to give my family a better life. I resolved then to never work so hard again but to my surprise I have found working too hard creeping back into my life.
I have loved every minute of promoting the book. It has been busier that I thought it would be. Every day I am writing an article for someone or I am appearing on a radio show or a podcast. I appreciate the interest and enjoy all of these interactions. As a Buddhist I try and give myself fully to all of these interactions. But some days I feel tired and thinking at the end of the day I could have done more. Old habits creeping in!
I listened to one of Plum Village's podcasts called 'The Way is In: Zen and the art of Living'. I enjoy this podcast and would recommend it to you. I was struck recently by something simple that was said on one of their podcasts. Plum Village is a Buddhist monastery in France that was established by the famous Zen monk 'Thich Nhat Hanh'. One day a week the community there has a day off where monks are encouraged to get some rest. What surprised me was that Thich Nhat Hanh called this a 'lazy day'.
His reason for calling it a 'lazy day' was interesting. When he came to the west he saw that people often worked too hard. Working hard and being seen to put in long hours at work and be productive economically was valued above all else. Even in the monastic setting he could see traces of this hard working ethos. He therefore called the monastery's rest day a 'lazy day' to try and shake people out of this view that we always have to work hard in order to feel valued or offer value. He was trying to point out that we need to rest and it is okay to do so. We need to be lazy and kind to ourselves sometimes. This is a positive thing to do for ouselves.
On my recent holiday I tried to really put this into practice. I wanted to remember that I am more than what I produce. It is more important to be at ease and at peace with myself. To speak to people in a friendly manner, have fun and rest when I need to. I have come to realise that this is more important than being a writer, a CEO and working hard. Something to think about?
As ever with my blog posts I always include my favourite poems from the month just past. If you want to follow my daily poem then click on my socail media links on my website and you can follow them for free. I leave you with two poems below but please think about how much rest you get in your life. If it is not enough please try and build it into your life. Thanks for reading and I will be back soon.
After two weeks holiday
It is nice to be back
But as I sit zazen
My mind thinks
Of all those
I visited in the Scottish Highlands
I smile at some
Of the memories
But I remind myself
That wherever I am
Is my true home
My walk in the mountains
Due to thick cloud
And heavy rain
I took shelter in a cave
And ate my lunch
Thinking about the
Mountain sages of old
Living in wild places
What a life it
Must have been