Permission to rest

“Transformation takes energy so make sure to take good care of yourself throughout your journey–drink lots of water, rest, eat healthy, and most important of all, show yourself love and compassion.”

 ~Anthony Abbagnano, founder of The Alchemy of Breath


August is typically a big vacation month, where many of us relish thoughts of rest. This year, the longing for rest seems even stronger, with the pandemic thrusting us into a worldwide transformation that has zapped our energy.

Despite the weariness, and desire to rejuvenate, I have witnessed personally, and professionally within my coaching practice, how difficult it can be to rest.

To stop and become “non-productive” from our busy ways is often jolting, and darn right scary for many–especially those who have had a lifetime of being super competent and driven.

Some of that drive often comes from having unmet needs as a child, when one was not adequately validated in a nurturing way. To stop, and have to find that validation from within, from moments of doing nothing, is foreign and uncomfortable. Guilt and shame for not being “the responsible self” will try to sabotage the best intentions for rest.

Trusting that you will be provided for, when you take time off, is another big challenge for many. Pushing ourselves is so hard-wired in as the answer to challenges, even though we often find our most creative solutions by stepping away from a problem or issue.

So, I often grant my clients the same gift I gave myself after eight years of deep inner growth post cancer and four months working into the wee hours of the morning rebranding my business: I give them “permission to rest.”

And, their first reaction is often that they start sobbing, for so many have been so strong and responsible for far too long.   Rest not only gives the body time to rejuvenate; it provides space for all emotions to be felt and released, as the body, mind and spirit get re-centered and better balanced.

My clients’ tears are often a recognition of their exhaustion and grief as they start absorbing the enormity of their losses from lack of playfulness, spontaneity and embracing the mystery of life that opens by taking time to rest.

Initially relieved to feel these emotions that have been buried for years, these clients (like I did when first diagnosed with breast cancer) will then typically give all sorts of reasons why they cannot stop, detailing a list of their responsibilities and obligations.

The truth is we will always find distractions from choosing to sit, and “be” with ourselves. I understand that. The adrenaline rush of “doing” is more ego-stroking than discovering the parts of ourselves that have been painfully neglected.

These are the words I use to help busy clients start to break open to new empowering, peaceful and elevated ways of being (and words I wished I learned decades ago): It is safe to rest.

That excessive drive to accommodate the demands of the external world, to satisfy the ego, will never provide the same levels of joy in finding and living from an inner, grounded sense of being. The search to more fully claim and express your authentic self also often begins with rest, and at the very least, daily moments of stillness.

For all its downsides, the pandemic has brought us inward and is shifting us to a new way of learning—to allowing in and waiting for answers, versus pushing forward.

And, one of the most empowering things we can do in a restful state is to choose to change our mindset by rewiring in new beliefs. The mind cannot welcome new information in a state of chaos.

Accept, versus resist, the discomfort of stopping all the busyness. Choose to see rest as a life-enhancing gift to yourself to build a new foundation of worthiness, based on who you are, not what you do or have.

TRUST THE EMPTY SPACES IN YOUR LIFE and know that they will fill up in better ways than you ever imagined versus living from a continual state of exhaustion based on past conditioning of “performing,” “being good,” “reaching” and being “the super-responsible one.”

And, ask yourself: Why have you valued being chronically busy more than being present to yourself and others? Is there a paradigm shifted needed? When you rest, and fill yourself up, you have more to offer yourself and others.

Your other responsibilities will still be there waiting, as you rest and regroup, but this time as you rewire your brain for optimal outcomes, your needs and desires will be included in the picture of your most fulfilling life.

As my friend Cynde Denson, a talented yoga instructor, shared from one of her favorite quotes by Adyashanti: “The more in harmony you are with the flow of your own existence, the more magical life becomes.”

Transformation, like rest sometimes, takes courage. You do not have to embrace it alone. I would be honored to be your guide in helping you craft a new life of greater balance between work and rejuvenation, based on a strong foundation of worthiness.  To learn more, email

I’d also love to hear about your favorite resting spots or ideas, which you can post in the comment section below.

With love and compassion as you embrace a life of worthiness,


 I took the above photo at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area by Kure Beach, N.C., when I opted to take a midweek day of rest and play to replenish.


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  • MaryAnn says:

    Ah, rest. Such an elegant reminder to slow down and listen. In my meditations I often take myself to a tall pine tree overlooking Sand Beach at Acadia National Park. The steadiness and strength of the tree and the blue ocean expanse is my reminder to breathe and rest and listen. Thank you Gail for your insights and wisdom.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      MaryAnn: What a beautiful image of taking in the steadiness and strength of that tall pine tree. Your description of your meditation made me feel like I was there with you, at the beautiful Acadia National Park. Grateful that my blogs touch you. Blessings, Gail

  • Diane says:

    Your messages resonate with me during our time of figuring out what the new normal will look like. It is good for me to walk quietly in nature where I can hear God’s gentle voice and feel the faint nudges of His angels. They of course are always guiding me, which can more easily be discerned when I am not off being “busy!”

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Diane. Thank you for your feedback on the way my blogs resonate with you. I love your description of being touched by God’s angels in nature, while walking..such a beautiful description. Blessings, Gail

  • It is safe to rest. Well said. My resting spot is playing with the light at the beach at 6:30 am with the dark ocean and light from the new dawn or at the beach as the sun sets w/long shadows over the water. I feel held and comforted.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Such a beautiful image, Sharon. Thanks for sharing your restful place to feel “held” and “comforted.” Blessings, Gail

  • Susan Young says:

    What a beautiful reminder you have given us on the importance of rest and play. Weekday boating on Lake Winnipesaukee In NH is my favorite way to relax. Being on the water somehow lets me leave all worries behind.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thanks for sharing Susy…water is so healing. Being on your own boat weekdays without crowds seems even better. Love that you can “leave all worries behind.” To summer fun! Blessings, Gail

  • Brenda Fernandes says:

    Always look forward to reading your blogs, Gail. Very often we do need these reminders. Spent the day today walking through Lavender fields and just resting at the top of the hill. Thank you Gail for these beautiful insights….they give me so much strength and comfort.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Brenda: So wonderful to hear from you in the UK…those lavender fields there sound so beautiful. I’m glad you find support from my blogs. My muse keeps getting so many “divine downloads” that I get excited to share, to help us all stay both elevated and connected in our vulnerabilities during these historic times. Blessings, Gail

  • A timely and important reminder for me as i grew up on Cape Cod which thousands of people view as a place of summer rest, refreshment and retreat. Most are blissfully unaware that us “Locals” who serve them never see summer as a restful relaxing time. We grew up being told that we “need to make hay when the son shines” and that meant from Memorial Day to Labor day (appropriately named for us) was the 10 weeks a year on the Cape to harvest our nuts for the winter months. Our family had a restaurant on the beach serving thousands of people a day. We used to joke that we were the only folks who went to the beach every day and never got a tan because we were serving those who were resting. We even had a sign in the back of our place that reminded us, “Working Hard and Getting Something Done is Two Different Things”. It’s taken me most of my adult life to finally as you said, “stop and become non-productive”. By discovering my worthiness to rest I’ve begun to understand that “Not Working, and entering into rest IS getting something done.” Definitely agree with you saying “moments of doing nothing is foreign and uncomfortable”. By slowing down and intentionally resting has opened my mind up to new perspectives. In fact in addition to my ever growing To-Do list I started another equally important “Not To-DO” list. This reminds me of things I can STOP doing so I have more time for BEing. Thank you for the reminder that, “When you rest, and fill yourself up, you have more to offer yourself and others.” Wise and useful counsel. Definitely looking forward to doing less and filling up on more rest!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Mark: It’s such a small and connected world, isn’t it? Having raised my kids in Boston and vacationed on Cape Cod for two weeks every summer, I bet I’ve eaten at that restaurant where you worked so hard from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Wonderful how you are learning now in mid-life to re-prioritize your life and start a “Not-To-DO” list as you make more time to “BE.” Appreciate that you value my counsel (I’ve been at it a long time–20-plus years, but I doubt I have worked as hard as you in the restaurant business all those years:) Keep filling yourself up with rest…it seems long overdue. Blessings, Gail

  • Carol M says:

    My resting spot can vary from a small deck in my yard looking out over some wetlands to a drive to the ocean to take in the sea air and watch the boats passing by. Whether I’m watching the birds building a nest or people sailing with friends, I can always recharge by changing my environment! You are very wise in suggesting that we take time out to rest. Thanks, Gail!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Carol: Love all the ways you rest by appreciating nature and changing your environments. And thank you for valuing my “wisdom.” Blessings, Gail

  • Thomas Ogren says:

    At the moment, a covid time, my idea of a rest, a break, is to get up from the computer and to go out into my garden. There I’m always weeding, deadheading old blooms, watering, doing something, but the thing is, I’m just gardening. And that can almost always be a wonderful time out, a rest from the storm.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Tom: Getting off the computer is rest in itself, isn’t it? Glad you’re finding respite in the garden. Being in nature seems the common thread to get “a rest from the storm” as you say. Blessings, Gail

  • Cynde denson says:

    Gail, once again I am blown away with the eloquence in which you express your thoughts, feelings and wisdom in the written word. It is also inspiring how you are a living example of your wisdom and that your words come from a deep, deep place of experience. In my very humble opinion and experience, there is nothing we can do that is more life affirming than giving ourselves the space and time for deep rest. How we do it is very different for everyone, For some it may be to meditate or do yoga or read a book (maybe a juicy novel) with no guilt about stepping out of doing. For others, it is may be being in nature, petting a dear animal or simply sitting and gazing out the window. And…… I totally agree with you, while the pandemic is certainly not a desired state for most of us, for many it has given the gift of time and space. I applaud your encouragement to take this time and space to nurture, grow and transform. Well said, my friend!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Cynde: And, I am blown away by your heartfelt appreciation of my work, and your insights on my depth and the way I walk my talk. I love your comments about deep rest being life affirming–and all the ways you embrace it. Yes, the pandemic is calling us all inward, and we have a choice to use this time to evolve in new ways, which will benefit the new world that is emerging. Blessings, Gail

  • Diane Polley says:

    Very timely blog, Gail. Rest is essential in our new reality, as is play. My daily solitary walk in nature allows me time to breathe deeply and spirituality reconnect. I stop often to take pictures and here is where play takes over. So many subjects all just waiting to be discovered…dew drops on flowers, spider webs with prey and predator, mud puddles shaped like hearts, dark wet dirt reminding me to have a reward of dark chocolate later. Rest and play refreshes our souls and reminds us of how very special and worthy of life and love we are.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Beautiful descriptions of all the pictures you take, Diane. Thanks for sharing what play and rest look like for you. I especially love your line about rest and play reminding us of “how very special and worthy of life and love we are.” Blessings, Gail

  • Demi Stevens says:

    This resonates with me deeply. Thank you so much for the reminder and the nudge to reconnect with our true selves. Cheers, Demi

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Demi: I’m glad it touched you so deeply–and I love the way you described rest as a nudge to reconnect with our true selves. Wishing you many, many moments of replenishment. Blessings, Gail

  • Judy miller says:

    Thanks Gail. A great reminder in the midst of these unprecedented , challenging times. Rest often seems counterintuitive amidst the chaos. I appreciate the encouragement to focus on the things that will bring a great return on our investment. I find rest in bike rides in the desert, and daily practices that allow me to ground like yoga, and meditation. But I think some of my most magical moments of rest occur in the midst of the busiest of days, when demands and the needs of others are high, and I am at the end of myself. In those moments when I remember to breathe, focus on my heart, that I return home to myself and find the strength beyond my own effort to do what needs to be done. A gift greater than my effort… Pure magic!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Judy: I love all the ways you rest, and find magic in the midst of your busiest days…beautiful description of the way you focus on the breath to bring your attention back to your heart. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Gail

  • Thanks Gail, great insights.
    When I was. a boy, I learned from my father that work was good and play was – well, an avoidance of important work. It took me many years to unlearn that.
    My favorite spot to rest is my deck or living room looking out at the mountains. I’ve found then to be very peaceful and constant!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Craig: Thanks for sharing that story as a young boy. So many men have been conditioned to believe their value is based on their performance/provider roles. I’m sure you will inspire many readers in knowing that mode of thinking/being can be “unlearned” as you say. Your rest spots sound beautiful. Blessings, Gail

  • gordon says:

    I’m coming off a substantial set of losses in my life and this was supposed to be vacation week with my kids and extended family to recharge. But the pandemic led to altered plans (or was it the pandemic?). I am now looking at a significant amount of alone time and as I embrace what I feared would be a sad and lonely alternate to the energy of renewing familial love, I am finding this is just what I needed. Quiet, time to let feelings surface and reflect, moments to rest and accept that for me for today, being alone is fine and even healthy. I’m “in love.” If I achieve one hoped for thing during this week, it’s to let myself rest in the joy of this new life story and not fret that it doesn’t look like the picture I had always imagined. Your blogs, and the wisdom you share at the hiking groups you lead to build community in nature, socially distanced, have helped me to unpack the picture a bit as I work toward a more love-filled reality.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Gordon: You so eloquently describe the inward journey of self-love and compassion as one moves through confronting loss and other life transitions, like much of the world is experiencing now. Your being open to your “altered plans” becoming a divine intervention to reroute your life in healthy, meaningful new ways, is profoundly insightful. It is in this “space for grace” that you can allow for inner wisdom to heal and guide you. It’s also courageous work to look at what no longer serves you as you build a new vision for what you call a “more love-filled reality.” Be extra gentle with yourself during this vulnerable time. I am thrilled you are part of my new hiking community, where I hope you will meet many more like-minded people. Blessings, Gail

  • Denise Souza says:

    Oh yes! Arrest! Certainly is a difference between a physical rest and an emotional rest! The beach does both for me. I still have not found a way to emotionally rest unless I get away. I am still a work in progress!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Progress is good, Denise:) And awareness is at least half “the work” of making the changes we want. Congrats. We’re so lucky to have beautiful beaches (and mountains) here–and can find remote hideaways that are not crowded! Blessings, Gail

  • Patty duffey says:

    Reading this makes me realize finding me time should be a top priority. Believe it or not, my escape place is my basement. It’s a quiet and peaceful hideaway. I sometimes zone out after a few sit-ups, and wake up refreshed. Golfing alone was the best activity as I could focus on my game and nothing else, but with covid the courses are busy and that luxury is hard to come by now.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Glad you are inspired to make “me time” a top priority, especially given all the creative work you do with those young artists/performers, putting yourself out there on their behalf. Never would have thought of the basement as a place to refuel, but it just goes to show you don’t need to go far from home to rejuvenate. Golf courses are now becoming like beaches it seems! Blessings, Gail

  • Scott Mills says:

    What a beautiful reminder to give ourselves permission to rest. And I love the quote from Adyashanti. “The more in harmony you are with the flow of your own existence, the more magical life becomes.” Thanks Gail!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thank you, Scott: Glad you appreciated the reminder. We need rest now more than ever during this huge time of worldwide transition. It’s OK to stop and catch up. Blessings, Gail

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