By: Susan Browning
So often we talk about “rest” and the importance of making room for it in our busy lives. Except for one thing, how do we actually rest?
I know for me watching hours of slothful Netflix only exacerbates my feelings of unrest and doesn’t actually fill my tank because I get so emotionally involved in the plots, that a season of Gilmore Girls leaves me feeling like they are my real friends. So what happens to them, happens to me – and with a thousand words a minute, matching my million thoughts a second we don’t go for a restful combo! So. Then, what do we do to find rest?
Much of what I have read implies rest isn’t simply just sitting and being a couch potato. But it is something we need to practice, just being…
“We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have and to Do…. except so far as they are transcended by and included in the fundamental verb, to Be…” – Evelyn Underhill
Being doesn’t mean absolutely emptying your mind and feeling nothing. It’s finding the things that help you be. Maybe it’s in painting, maybe it’s in lying horizontal and letting the thoughts be washed away, maybe it’s implementing practices that help you slow your hustle down. For me it has been learning these three elements as I pick up pace and juggle, allowing life-giving rhythms of rest to interrupt my go, go, go nature and learn to be, be, be.
Some of life’s greatest pleasures are found in using the gifts God has given you. By simply making time for them, with no agenda attached I believe you can find restoration and connection to Jesus.
Creating for no reason can be really challenging for the achievers in the room. But it was one thing I was encouraged to do a few years ago, and has since been one of my greatest challenges. Especially when the things I have previously been creative with became sources of income for me. I love projects, so the idea of having a working goal in mind has always been useful, but can become tiresome when I no longer enjoy the process. Creating for joy is deeply rejuvenating simply because it separates our doing from working especially when we don’t tie anything to the result. Return to how you can make room for things that fill your soul and give you elements of rest.
Questions you can ask yourself are: What did I love to do as a child? What do I do that isn’t for anyone else but me? What can I do that I won’t sell or give away? What can I make/draw/build/create for my own satisfaction? How much time can I give myself permission to spend on this? How can I play in my week? Do I need resources and how can I make room for that in my budget? All these and many other questions you will need to ask yourself will help create room for joy-filled rest.
OK so this is pretty literal – I get it. You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it: there are studies that tell us we don’t function when we have not had enough Zs.
Somedays I am run off my feet or I am standing for a large majority and the most restorative thing for me is literally lie down. Being horizontal (even just for 10 minutes) has been sooooooooo helpful in managing my body’s output. At home, I have learnt the flags my body presents in the times I am going too hard or for too long and my family knows a twenty minute uninterrupted reclined space makes for a better Mummy.
I may be stating the obvious here but getting to bed at a reasonable hour is also wise. I don’t like to count the hours I sleep because I find that overwhelming when it’s not the ideal number I have in my head, but I do find my 9pm little alarm really helpful to remind me it’s time to wind down. Screens off and I hop into bed and read. Reading has always been a joy giver in my life, and I love ending my day doing that now – not on a device… but a real paper filled book.
Preparing yourself for sleep is also helpful. Shauna Neiquest’s book Present Over Perfect has a great chapter on it – to the point of the rhythms we teach ourselves will give the cues we need to begin the journey to sleep.
I have ADHD so the idea of ‘embracing slow’ is in-fact super hard for me, but I have learnt especially over the past two years to be able to find regular rhythms that help me to slow my pace and be in the moment.
Taking deep breathes is helpful but so is just sitting down to eat a meal, or have a cup of tea without my phone, without the TV, but just sitting and appreciating what is here in this moment and allowing my thoughts to empty out.
Also putting in my diary lunch breaks when I’m working from home, regular mornings with Jesus and time with each family member.
Blocking out weekends and holidays ahead of time has proven to be effective, because life happens. And it’s easy to give away our yes as needed. Having experienced the multitasking cray cray of motherhood, ministry, running a business and all the hats it’s easy to keep going at high speed and run out of steam.
But I’ve learnt to make pockets of slow or even stop time. Stare at the clouds, walk for walking sake instead of always trying to have something attached to every I do. Just doing things slow and taking in the moment, pausing and soaking in my surroundings.
So rest… it’s not a couch potato moment, it’s learning to connect, and creating intentional pockets for the being moments. Embracing what works for you to find your groove so you are fuelled for what God has called you to.
Article supplied with thanks to Susan Browning. About the Author: Susan is a worship leader, vocal coach and mentor encouraging you to be all you can be in fulfilling your purpose.