If the antidote to exhaustion isn’t necessarily rest, then what is it? Part 1


In preparation for an upcoming class I was reading an article by the poet David Whyte. In the article Whyte told about a life changing conversation he had with Brother David Steindl-Rast. At the time Whyte was struggling with his role at the organization he worked for and was feeling both overwhelmed and exhausted.  After a pleasant reading of Rilke’s The Swan which Br. David read in his native German, while Whyte followed along with his English translation, Whyte asked his burning question.

“Tell me about exhaustion,” he almost blurted the question out.

“You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?” Br. David responded, allowing a moment for the words to settle. “The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

Wholeheartedness: The Antidote to Exhaustion

So there, in those words, was the answer to a question which I had long been asking. Exhaustion, as Br. David so eloquently describes it, is a form of inner fermentation which ever so slowly causes us to rot on the vine and no matter how much rest we might acquire, we will not be able to stop this process without something more — and that something is wholeheartedness.

But you might ask what it means to be wholehearted. How does one achieve this state of wholeheartedness? Judging by my own experience, I believe that having a vital spiritual practice is the path to wholeheartedness. When we are able to consistently bring ourselves into a state of vulnerability in the presence of a higher spiritual power, we are communicating with our actions that we are both humbled by and worthy of the experience. According to Brené Brown, vulnerability and worthiness are at the very core of wholeheartedness.

How to Have a Spiritual Practice

How many resolutions did you make for the New Year? And how many of those have you been able to successfully maintain? If taking on a spiritual practice like prayer or meditation was one of those resolutions then I hope you have been able to persevere in it. But if you haven’t, or you have tried in the past and failed then you are not alone. You may think that your failure has something to do with your lack of self-control or willpower. That is what I thought as well until I began studying behavioral psychology, which is finding self-control and willpower have very little to do with our success in forming good habits.

Willpower Has Nothing To Do With It

Tomorrow I will share with you what it actually takes to begin and maintain a new spiritual practice. This is part 1 of a 3-part series I am doing on the subject of wholeheartedness. If you would like to learn more about this topic I hope you will join me on February 5 for the first session of Finding Heart in Your Work.