When We Take Time For Rest
We are almost at the end of March, moments away from the end of the first quarter of the year.
Many of us have filled our time with New Year’s resolutions and Lent disciplines. There are so many things we hope to accomplish this year. We have been chasing them at full speed for three months.
What we believe has shaped how we have experienced our year so far. We may believe in the value of hard work and persistence. Some of us believe winter weather builds character. Many of us believe in ourselves and our ability to organize our own lives.
One thing I believe in is the value of rest. Resting is a spiritual practice we need to cultivate. I do not know a single person, though, who is developing a practice of taking time for rest this Lent.
Many of us tend to see resting as a sign of weakness or even doing something wrong. We assume we need to work harder and spend more of our time trying to make progress. Taking time for rest seems to be, at best, a waste of our precious time.
Sometimes we feel guilty when we rest. We think rest is something for young people or old people. There always seems to be more for us to do, a more productive way for us to invest our time.
We apparently believe not taking time for rest demonstrates how significant our work is. What we are doing is so important we cannot even take time to rest.
I am beginning to see rest differently. Life is not about working ourselves to exhaustion. We require a balance of work and rest, action and reflection.
We help ourselves grow stronger when we take time for rest.
Why Would We Not Take Time For Rest?
Many of us seem to be driven to work by our own insecurity and desires.
We are nervous about becoming irrelevant and anxiously keep our skills and experience up to date. Some of us feel we could lose our livelihood, and our retirement, at any moment. Our minds tell us technology, or competition, or other unforeseen circumstances, could put us out of work.
Many of us believe we need to be willing to work hard to earn what we want to have. We are constantly reminded about everything we could possibly desire. Without it all, we are told, our lives will not be complete.
We believe we are working to get to the place where we have enough, but we never seem to arrive there.
Even our ways of trying to take time for rest are built on insecurity and desire. We need to get away, to distract ourselves, to take our family somewhere nice. Just make sure we are still accessible, still available by phone and email. You never know what might happen while we are away.
I have been a person who knew no rest. Whenever I took time for rest away from work, which was rare, I would start to feel sick. Each time I spent my first few days away in bed.
Taking time for rest is essential. Experiencing peace reshapes our understanding of who we are and what we need.
When we take time for rest we help restore the balance of our lives. Taking time for rest helps restore our minds and our emotions, our bodies and our souls.
How Do We Take Time For Rest?
There are many ways for us to take time for rest. Some of us will sleep in or stay in bed and read books. Others of us will take long walks. We may need to try several types of resting before we find what works best for us.
For many of us, the first step in taking time for rest is deciding it is important to us. Some of us may face medical challenges which force us to rest. Others of us will notice we enjoy spending time with ourselves more when we take time for rest.
Taking time to rest may be a struggle at first. We may feel bored or unproductive when we take time for rest. Many of us have been living without rest for some time. It might take us some practice to develop the habit of taking time for rest.
Some people find it helpful to enlist the help of a companion as we develop our new practice. We may find other people or animals who are attracted to taking time for rest with us.
We may decide to start taking time for rest by developing a contemplative practice.
Contemplative Practices as Ways to Take Time For Rest
Many people experience contemplative practices as opportunities for deep rest.
Contemplative practices are intended to help us release our tight grip on our lives. We consent to the presence and action of spiritual life living in us and the world around us. Some people emerge from spending time in contemplation feeling refreshed and strengthened.
Other people, though, find contemplation challenging and not particularly restful.
Some of us experience contemplative practices becoming more restful over time. We may want to get help from a trained, experienced advisor.
In my experience contemplative practices can be a supportive framework for practicing rest. Periods of rest and reflection punctuated with contemplative prayer and reading can be an excellent retreat.
Staying in bed all day or getting away for a retreat are not the only ways we can take time for rest. Many people practice taking time for rest by focusing on how they approach their work each day. Others include restful time in their everyday schedules.
Taking time for rest can restore and refresh us and help us be less distracted. Each day is an opportunity to take time for rest.
When will we take time for rest today?
How will we practice taking time for rest this week?
[Image by Madzik]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.