REST with Mattie Morton
Today, we learn from Mattie Morton of Juniperous. In her own words, she explains, "When it comes to rest, many of us miss the mark. Many of us push ourselves far beyond the place where a solid night's rest will provide the rejuvenation our bodies, hearts, and minds truly need. Oftentimes the only thing that brings blazing and restless forward motion to a halt is a healing crisis; be it sickness, injury, or just plain burnout.
"My approach to rest varies depending on the depth of need. In an ideal world all the rest I would ever need would be a nourishing meal, a hot bath, and 8 beautiful and uninterrupted hours of sleep.
"When we reach burnout though, or we find ourselves in a healing-crisis, much more is needed. A deep tending to the spirit, body, and mind is at hand, and the unfortunate part of that need is that so many of us “don’t have time” to provide ourselves with that care."
Need a little inspiration to make time to tend to your spirit, body, and mind? Just keep reading; Mattie shares incredible guidance and fascinating stories below.
WHAT ARE YOUR RITUALS TO RELAX, REJUVENATE, AND RESTORE YOURSELF?
When the time to stop everything in life and rest is afoot, but stopping doesn’t seem possible, ritual and scheduling are my best friends.
As much as a schedule may feel confining, scheduling rest and self-care into my daily life is the most effective way to make sure that it happens. My schedule includes time in nature, nourishing foods, breathing and energetic maintenance practices, yoga and meditation, and carving out technology free periods of time.
Going into Nature
Much of the nourishment I need comes from nature. Moving my body and breathing in clean air oxygenates my blood. Inhaling the aromatic molecules provided by plants, trees, and earth clear my mind, relieve stress, and bolster my immune system. The practice of regularly communing with nature provides rest and rejuvenation to my mind and spirit, and gives respite to my body from some of the more rigid positions I have to hold in much of my work.
Nourishing my Body:
Sleep and Food
Rest doesn’t always look like lying in bed in my pajamas. I typically sleep for about 9 hours. That may seem like a lot, but it is the natural rhythm of my being, and honoring that in my schedule is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Though allowing myself to sleep as much as I need to is part of my restful practice in life, paying attention to my physical constitution and providing myself with the nutrients I really need through my food is the best nourishment ritual I have. The food I make for myself in my home is vitamin and mineral rich and contains beneficial fats and oils. I also rely on fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir to help me balance the fauna and flora of my gut. All beings are unique, and working with a practitioner who can help identify your personal constitutional needs can massively facilitate your ability to support yourself through diet, which makes rest more effective in improving your well-being.
I like to take a hot herbal bath at least once a week, which I follow with cottonwood bud oil, a short yin practice, and brushing and braiding my hair before going to bed – details, details, details. Constitutions like mine benefit from warm, oily, slow, methodical therapies. Knowing yourself, and giving yourself a special ritual of your own is part of effective small-dose rest. It’s worth doing something that is tailored just for you, where your mind and heart can be at rest, held safely in the space of ritual.
Breathing and Meditation
When I am on the top of my self-care game, incorporating a daily yogic practice provides me with a constant sense of well-being. I have had times in life where my yoga and meditation practices are firmly scheduled, and everything else has to be scheduled around them. Those times have been my most empowered and balanced times, because they inherently incorporate daily periods of rest that aren't sleeping. Life does get busy, and rituals can fall away as we scramble towards productivity and accomplishment. I have found that in the moments of my life where yoga “doesn’t fit” in my schedule, simply taking five minutes between tasks throughout the day to breath deeply vastly improves my state of mind. Shifting me from operating in my sympathetic nervous system back to parasympathetic - there are also practitioner-oriented methods of shifting brainwave and nervous system states such as alphabiotics, reiki, cranial sacral work and various forms of massage.
What is your advice to empower women to make time for (guilt-free) rest?
Life is busy. Many of our beautiful women are living life full-on, 24-7. Running businesses, working full-time and overtime, being awesome, courageous mothers and partners - caring for, leading, and loving others.
They are busy holding up the world.
I find it helpful to remember that if I fail to care for myself appropriately, the rest of my work in the world will be hindered.
Someone once said to me – “Nobody needs you more than you.” Which was a calling to recognize that caring for the self is what empowers the highest care for others, and that nobody can provide you with exactly what you need better than you can.
If you’re not sure what the best practices are for you, reach out to a practitioner for help defining your personal constitution, and get assistance with making a plan and ritual for yourself that supports you in the slow and everyday maintenance of your being. Even if you are seeing a practitioner, the one who is doing the work, who is actually tending to your body, is you.
YOU ARE IMPORTANT, YOU DESERVE TO FEEL WELL, THE WORLD NEEDS YOU TO FEEL WELL.
Please describe a time when you had to surrender to rest.
In the summer of 2015 I had to surrender to rest. I had pushed myself too far, tried to fit too much in, and found myself in a major healing crisis the week I was supposed to be finishing my biggest project of the year. I had been dancing on the edge with a candida overgrowth in my gut for about a month - keeping it at bay and ignoring my body’s signs of a looming crisis. I was running Juniperous, managing someone else’s cider business, farm sitting, and had taken on the very large task of making and dying the garments and accessories for a fellow artist’s wedding party. I had been cruising along, “too busy” for simple self-care practices grabbing one hat after another, working through the night, crushing cups of coffee and eating whatever was easy instead of eating appropriate meals and taking care of my body. My excuse was that I was busy. One fine day during this period I was stung by a bee behind my right ear, and unfortunately, I have a sensitivity to bees that borders on an allergy. My immune system shifted to defend against the bee sting, and that whisper of candida BLEW. UP. I couldn’t stay awake for more than two hours at a time. The candida took hold becoming a rampant overgrowth. I suddenly had a terrible vaginal yeast infection and had candida appearing in my eyes, ears, mouth and on the surface of my skin. Even foods I had normally known as “safe” foods for me in this state were aggravating the condition. I needed REST. I needed to slow down, stop everything, sleep, figure out what I could eat, re-integrate my herbal and fermented allies, and be able to tend to my body in the comfort of my home. The most frustrating thing about this was that I could have prevented it if I had been listening to my body and proactively integrating my own known ritual for self-care and rest, and instead was scrambling to “catch up” on taking care of myself in the face of a very inflexible deadline.
I moved my work to home, and alternated from sleeping to work every two hours.
I created a rigid probiotic and alkaline plant-based diet and a schedule for napping, therapeutic herbal baths, and work. I made it through the deadline, and then had to spend the following week at home maintaining the intense sleeping and diet routine. I consulted a dear friend of mine who is an acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and she helped me go even deeper with her work. I emerged from this resting period, strong and healthy, I might even go so far as to use the word radiant.
In an ideal world, rest would never be described as intense, but when the healing needs to happen, sometimes intense periods of rest are the only option, and sometimes asking for help from others is what makes all the difference.
How do you tune into your body's wisdom to know when to rest?
In my candida story, I had seen the signs of imbalance on my skin. I knew I was on the edge because I’ve learned how to notice my body’s subtle signaling, but I didn’t take action, I didn’t fully listen, I told myself I would take care of it later when I wasn’t as busy.
I try to be in constant awareness with my body and my feelings to notice changes in my skin, my eyes, my hair, teeth, and nails. I note when I feel strong, and when I feel weak, and I practice reiki and breath-facilitated body scanning to check for physical and energetic stagnance. I go in waves of being tuned in and proactive, and waves of ignoring myself. I do the best I can, and I try to be kind to myself when I realize that I could be doing better. I think that’s human – the unending dance along the precipice of balance.
Our bodies are constantly informing us of the state of our being. In the current culture, however, we aren’t typically educated on how to read the signals of our own bodies. We aren’t taught about internal and external correlations, or how to look within and actually feel our tissues, nerves, organs, blood, and bones. Instead, we are taught to ignore our intuitions, and to look only to health practitioners for information about our well-being or lack thereof.
It is possible to know yourself, to know exactly what you need, through patient self-acceptance, restful listening, and self-education. Even in situations where you don’t feel like you know exactly what you need, listening to your body and being able to express that information can help a receptive wellness practitioner be more effective in their service to you.
I suppose that my parting words on rest and wellness here are those aforementioned that were once offered to me: “Nobody needs you more than you.”
Give yourself rest and care, make it a ritual, put it on the schedule, because when you are rested, you are well, and when you are well everything you do in life will be well done.
Mattie Morton is the owner, designer, and creator of Juniperous. In addition to being an artist, she is also an herbalist.
Mattie works to connect people with the earth through their hearts, minds, spirits and bodies through her clothing and herbal products. She resides in Bozeman, Montana and offers classes and consultations for deepening the connection between the self and the natural world.