Photo by Anne Malatt for article by Dr Anne Malatt on The Art of Repose

The Art of Repose


I have learned a lot about the art of repose lately. I learned it by breaking my big toe, which was a painful way to learn a lesson, but I have tended to learn most of my lessons the hard way, up until now.

I have been a fiercely independent woman, but when I broke my toe, there were some things I just couldn’t do. I had to ask for more support to get things done at work and at home, from my husband and my staff. I should have taken some time off work, but this is not an easy thing for a solo medical practitioner to do. So I shortened my working days, went to work in Ugg boots and a moon boot, had a lie-down at lunchtimes, and rested as soon as I came home.

I have not done much resting, up until now. I have been a great one for doing, never feeling that I can do enough, never feeling that I am enough, just as I am, and that I have to somehow prove my worth through what I do. This tends to lead to a constant feeling of unsettlement, and exhaustion!

I spent a lot of time resting, in those first few weeks. This did not mean I was doing nothing; far from it. To begin with, I tried to make up for my lack of physical activity by reading more, writing more, and being as active as I could whilst not moving my toe. But as I surrendered more, I began to realise that there is much more to resting than doing nothing physically.

The art and science of repose

When we give ourselves space to rest, without feeling like we have to do something, or anything, that space opens up, in ourselves and all around us. This is the art and science of repose. We become more aware, of what is going on in ourselves, in other people, and all around us. We become more sensitive, to our own feelings, to those of others, and to the energy that underlies everything. We realise that there is an energy underlying everything, that we are all very aware beings, and that there is far more to us than the physical body we have come to see as everything we are.

In repose we deepen our appreciation, of ourselves, of others and of life. And that deeper appreciation offers us a platform to go even deeper within, which allows us to expand the space within and all around us even more.

In this state of repose, we realise that what we do matters, but that who we are matters even more. And that it is our responsibility to bring the quality of all of who we are to what we do.

This brings a simplicity to life, and a grand responsibility, to bring all of us to every moment, whether we are at work, with family or friends, or with ourselves.

Everyday repose

We don’t have to wait until we break something to explore repose – in fact, it would be preferable if we did not!

Repose is on offer in every single moment of every day. Taking a moment to stop and smell the roses, to appreciate ourselves for something we have done and the quality we have brought to doing it, and to appreciate and confirm each other, can be an all-day, everyday experience.

To begin with, this may feel strange and we can start by just taking a moment to breathe and be with ourselves. The space this can offer us can then be brought into our days, and over time, this space will open up more and more.

If we live a day in a way that appreciates ourselves and others and the quality of our being as well as all our doing, we can come to the end of the day feeling full and complete. We don’t need to seek relief from the day, or reward, or time out. We feel tired, but lovely. And so we eat and drink in a way that confirms that loveliness, that does not make us feel bloated, or heavy. We don’t take ourselves out with food and drink, but use it to nourish and support our bodies.

We can wind down gently without seeking too much stimulation from food, drink or entertainment. And if we do this we tend to go to bed earlier, which allows us to enjoy a true repose in sleep.

The hours of sleep between 9pm and 1 am are the most restful and restorative of the night, and allow our bodies to deeply rest and regenerate, and our beings to expand, so that we wake feeling refreshed and ready for more, bringing even more of us to the next day.

Learning to enjoy the art of repose has been a huge healing and blessing for me.

I feel much more settled in my body and my being, and have a deeper appreciation of myself and of all those around me. This feeling of settlement is contagious, and I notice that my family, friends and staff all feel more settled and appreciative too. I love my work and now I bring even more of myself to it. And I bring that same quality of being to everything I do, whether it be eye surgery, washing the dishes or going for a walk (which I really appreciate being able to do again!).

I cannot recommend breaking your big toe as a life experience, but I can certainly recommend exploring and practising the art of repose … it will enrich your life beyond measure … enjoy!


  1. Exploring the art and the joy of repose without breaking something or succumbing to an illness is certainly a most wonderful and life-changing exploration, with many lessons to be learned along the way. As you say, and I definitely know, it is as simple as stopping to smell the roses instead of rushing by.

  2. Thank you Anne for your beautiful sharing. Reflecting on what you have shared, I often only think of resting when I am not feeling well or when it’s time to go to bed at night, even then I wonder about the quality of rest I am offering myself. Something that I have observed is this depending on how I prepare for my sleep at night, this really affects how I am the following day, especially at work. Its like I cap what I can offer patients in my care.

    Your sharing here inspires me to take rest to a deeper level of repose not only for me and how I feel, but for those I nurse everyday.

  3. A vital and beautiful article Anne. Firstly, the purpose of illness, however small, is always an opportunity to stop, rest, appreciate and heal the body. We often consider active hours to be the heart of our day, but I’ve come to understand that it is not activity, necessary of course, but repose that is our foundation. Curious how rest is often disdained and resisted. And yet repose offers us the qualities of stillness and deep rest (even as we move). To bring repose inot how we prepare for sleep and sleep itself, supports our body to be restored and feel replenished when we wake.


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