City Silence

Stories from the Well

Deep Rest When You are Depressed (or Just Exhausted)

Posted on 03/29/22 by Isti in 10-Minute Pause

When I was younger, nobody told me that I was allowed to rest when I was tired. Nobody told me that I was allowed to pause and fix myself when I was broken. Nobody told me that I was not a machine nor robot that could get depressed. Now I know and I don’t need anyone to tell me that I am allowed to rest, A DEEP REST, especially when I am depressed.


During THE DEEP REST, we can pick anything that we like or love to engage with to comfort and nourish both our bodies and souls. Back on April 16, 2020, I joined The Well’s Mindful Poetry Gathering and felt that all I needed was poetry to help me rest, to return my sanity. Gustave Flaubert said, “There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.” I don’t need to wait to be a poet anymore to write and read poetry. Don’t you agree? I think poetry—including haiku, the short form of poetry which originally came from Japan—always has something to enchant us. It’s true that falling in love often doesn’t require lengthy words.


Besides poetry, now my other pick for A DEEP REST is silence. Yes, silence. When I was homeless and got a shelter in a friend’s flat right in front of landfill, I found a documentary called “In Pursuit of Silence.” This helped me see that my mind was always noisy. I might never be able to control the noise surrounding me, especially when I was moving from one slum area to another. I will never regret this part of my life because from this place, my seed grows. The people always showed me the best smile I could ever ask in the world. The food always warmed my tummy even when I got only IDR 1K or USD 0.07. (The currency of my homeland, Indonesia, is about IDR 14K equal to USD 1. You may smile at this “thousand" behind the two digits, yet, the value looks small.) But I always remember the experience of silence with a grumbling hungry tummy in a flooded cold dark rent accompanied by rats.

Now I value silence more than anything and I promise myself to keep learning and practicing silence with myself even in a noisy place. My neighborhood where I live now is unique, I can hear uninvited noises including karaoke, wood crab machine, motorcycle’s muffler, and street vendors with loudspeakers. These all rarely rest before 8 or 9 pm. But it is cleaner and I feel healthier.


I never knew before that mindfully breathing could be super powerful. I mean I have been living with breathing for 29 years, but now I can live my life feeling much more alive and much more peaceful by breathing consciously. “I think it’s time to live for once” is the right expression that I borrow from Smith & Thell’s “Toast.”


During my mindful breathing exercise, I learn to smile. Four beautiful souls explained this concept exactly the same: Rumi, Kahlil Gibran, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Br. David Steinld Rast. Nowadays, I keep repeating Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh’s powerful mantra: “Breathe in, I'm calm. Breathe out, I smile.” Why smiling? It’s about the coin of our lives where there are two sides in that coin: joy and sorrow. Then, if they are always together, why do we need to wait for the joy to come? Aren’t we allowed to be joyful all the time even during our sorrow? Then, we just need to pull a bit of our lips, to smile.


I want to quote Gal Beckerman first:

"And so it feels funny, in a moment where there’s so much noise and talk and chatter around us, to be arguing for more talking and conversation, but in some ways, for me, it’s the — like, there’s a distinction between what does it mean to be social — and there is a concept of being social where you go to a cocktail party, and it’s really loud, and somebody makes a joke and everyone kind of turns in that direction, and then you have a snippet of conversation with somebody else, but you can hardly hear it, and then you get pulled into something else, and pulled out of that — and then at the end of the day, you come home from that party, and you’re taking off your shoes, and you think, I didn’t actually talk to anybody. Like, that was — I think, what was that? I didn’t connect with anybody.”

Between 2014-2016, I was very active as a member of YSEALI (Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative) which was initiated by President Barack Obama for the South East Asian youths, like me. I traveled a few times within Jakarta, Indonesia; Singapore; and Kualu Lumpur, Malaysia—just—to be trained how to do networking, but I have always struggled with SMALL TALK. I have found that I end up going too deep with attentive listening, which requires longer time and a deeper process to connect, trust, feel, and understand. Believe it or not, now I have discovered my own way of networking and socializing.

The more I breathe, the more I meditate, ground, root and mind my inner peace; all the networks I need come to me through the law of attraction, through vibing, through like-minded connection and frequency. Now I have my own definition and way of socializing. And that looks like being in the middle of mindful people, for example, every Monday Morning with The Well’s Meditation or PANDAI’s PIE (Peace Is Every Time). Being social means being with our friends, our allies.


Now it’s your turn. What do you turn to for deep rest?