Rest, Regenerate and Restore
The Natural Health Society of Australia has a deep respect for our body’s ability to regenerate and restore when given the right conditions. One of the key conditions to encourage self-healing is the practice of rest.
Although we have biological drives such as sleep that ensure some level of ‘rest’ in our lives, in modern life resting is a skill worthy of development. The first step involves significant resistance to the dominant culture of idolising busy-ness. Learning to tune into the subtler cues that we are due for a shift in pace is also vital.
What does ‘rest’ look like?
Rest is an opportunity for our overstimulated nervous systems to return to a calm baseline. While you may enjoy the escapism of listening to true crime podcasts or binge-watching a Netflix drama series, these activities do not meet the definition of ‘rest’ in the natural health sense.
Rest from a natural health perspective has four components:
Rest of the digestive organs through a light ‘cleansing’ diet or briefly ceasing food intake altogether.
Rest of the muscles. This requires being as inactive as possible – perhaps bed rest.
Rest of the mind. This means avoiding intense mental work and not getting involved in arguments.
Rest of the senses and nerves.
Humans have long identified the benefits of rest
Most cultural traditions have built-in rest practices. Ramadan, the Sabbath and Lent are just some examples of culturally enshrined ‘rest’. Fasting as a form of rest is a practice the Natural Health Society has great experience with, you can read more about the Society’s philosophy on fasting here One of our long-term members shares his experience with fasting here
Benefits of fasting as a rest practice
Fasting stimulates authophagy (the process used to clear out damaged cells to promote cell regeneration).
Fasting shifts our daily rhythms, it can provide rest in the form of not needing to build a day around cooking and meals. This rest encourages a shift in our mental processes, as the entrenched neuronal pathways of our standard daily life get a bit of a shakeup as we adopt new habits.
Fasting is a practice that encourages other restful activities.
Naturopath Heidi Hogarth has written more about the benefits of fasting on brain health here