Last year I started co-hosting a podcast called Inspiration from the Couch with two friends and colleagues, Dr. Avery Hoenig and Dr. Jamie Wilson. Last summer (2021) we did an episode on The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Dooner (click here to listen to the podcast episode!). One of Dooner's recommendations is to lie down for 10-minutes/day. In preparation for our book club discussion, I challenged my podcast co-hosts to practice this on a daily basis, which led to a 10-day #liethefuckdown challenge.
Six Lessons I learned:
Lesson 1: My Neurotic Mind
The first 5 minutes (okay, so sometimes more like the first 7 minutes or all 10 minutes) was neurotic chaos in my head: generating to-do lists, thinking of the more productive things I could/should be doing, and looping through uncertainty and confusion (e.g., What, exactly, am I supposed to be doing?).
I also found myself searching for the “right” way to rest, and I was itching for some RULES:
- What’s the right way to do lie down?
- Am I allowed to pet my cat as he’s climbing on my head?
- Do I have to be perfectly still when I lie down or can I move around?
- Can I meditate or is that a qualitatively distinct endeavor?
- Can I think about things, or is that anti-rest?
Interestingly, despite my initially chatty mind, most days my mind would eventually settle, and I ended up falling asleep before my lie down time elapsed
Lesson 2: No Man’s Land
There were moments where I began to think of myself as in a No Man’s Land: I am not really resting because I am thinking/planning/etc…and I am not productive or doing anything because I am trying (unsuccessfully!) to rest. I’m just suspended in some unpleasant in-between. This dynamic plays out in other aspects of my life as well. There’s a sense of purgatory to this, and I’d like to avoid this no man’s land as much as possible.
Lesson 3: I need a New Mantra when I Lie Down
Over the years, I’ve learned that I can have sneaky, unconscious beliefs that interfere with my ability experience peace and ease. On the first day of this challenge, when I was totally restless, I decided to trade up whatever unhelpful belief might be operating below the surface to a mantra that was more helpful and supportive of my goals for rest. I tested out phrases like “I am allowed to rest” and “I deserve to rest,” but those didn’t feel quite right. The phrases that felt most powerful to me were
There is nothing else I need to be doing right now.
This is exactly where I need to be.
I came back to these phrases during the 10-day challenge, and they tended to help ground and center me.
Lesson 4: Fear of Falling off a Cliff
Lots of feelings emerged over the course of this 10-day challenge: resistance, anxiety, relief, disconnection, connection, exhaustion, fear, calm, peace, irritability. I tried to just be curious, making space for it all to belong.
Along the way, I noticed that I’m afraid to let myself rest. And I judge myself for taking time to rest. There were some moments where I felt afraid that I would fall into a bottomless pit of rest…that if I really let myself tune into my body and rest when it wanted, I would never have the inclination to get off my couch! I had to gently laugh at myself, as this is a variant of what I so often hear in working with individuals with eating disorders: “If I really listen to my body and what it wants, I will have insatiable hunger, never stop eating, and gain fifteen thousand pounds.”
Hmmmm, how hard it can be to really listen to and trust ourselves.
Lesson 5: The Lie Down is Really Awesome and Really Hard
I have a really hard time allowing myself to rest. This is not a shocker to me. (Note: “rest” feels distinct from sleep for me – I sleep a solid 8 hours most nights and have no hesitation allowing myself to get enough sleep at night. It’s all other forms of rest that get far stickier.) What’s new is my growing intuition that ALLOWING more REST (and prioritizing rest) will be a game changer in my life.
I’m learning that I need more of two types of rest: 1) the daily lie down, and 2) more general mental rest. With regards to the latter, Caroline Dooner talks about those apps that run in the background of your phone and drain all the battery…and I think my neurotic mind can function in the same way! Thinking, thinking, thinking, planning, and figuring it all out can be exhausting!
Lesson 6: How to Support Yourself
I often notice the tendency to drift away from my goals and intentions. I have some really good ideas about how to take care of myself, but I get busy and distracted, and I drift from what I know to be essential and supportive. So the question arises: How do we support ourselves in staying awake to our intentions and our knowing? Here are some ideas:
- Set a reminder on your phone. I have an appointment set for 3pm everyday, and this helps me remember to #liethefuckdown.
- Get your friends to participate with you! During the 10-day challenge, Jamie, Avery, and I texted often, both encouraging and reminding each other. Doing this with other people made it a FUN thing to look forward to, rather than another chore to check off the to-do list.
- Harness curiosity and mindfulness. Draw from direct experience. Allow yourself to be present to the moment, using this as an opportunity to practice listening to and trusting yourself.
- Also notice what gets in the way with allowing and taking rest. Let’s find the resistance and those blind spots that keep us stuck!
I am re-committing to the daily lie down. I’ve got a standing timer on my phone, and I might even get a little wild and crazy by upping the ante to 30 minutes/day!!!
Are you up for the challenge?
Let’s start a movement together.