How good are you at taking time to just slow down, relax, and not do a thing? What kind of feelings does Or, do you feel the need to be busy doing something?
“Though the sacred art of pausing, we develop the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our own experience. We begin to trust in our natural intelligence, in our naturally wise heart, and our capacity to open to what arises.” – Tara Brach
I grew up with so much emphasis on Sunday being a day of rest. My religion not only called for it, but demanded it. Lessons in classes and speakers at the pulpit would share experiences and proclaim promises of blessings and heavenly love and acceptance if there was obedience to this principle. There would also be outlines or opinions on how this “rest day” should look and how it should be observed. If I loved God and wanted to be loved by Him, then I better obey.
If I’m being honest, those Sundays were dreadful for me. Go to church…come home… There were no friends or playing outside. It all felt so stifling, controlling, forced and mostly just boring! I had no choice in the matter. Even as I got older, the same lessons and expectations were conveyed, Sunday is “a day of rest” and admittedly resentful feelings usually were felt.
Imagine though, if the intention and context of the classes and topics were taught in a more positive and empowered approach? Noting the benefits of taking pause and putting focus inward.
What if that concept of taking a day (or an hour, or even just a few minutes) of rest doesn’t have anything to do with obedience, but everything to do with living a more healthy, rich, and meaningful life?
This principle now has science supporting the claim of how powerful a day of rest can be. The research shows that intentional rest improves our ability to cope with stress, prevent depression, and generates the energy of thought to move forward. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that stress levels at work are higher than ever and that “health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.”
With technology constantly at the tip of our fingers, people’s expectations of instant gratification and demands of “right this minute”; our bodies are in a constant state of stress. Chronic stress actually depresses the immune system, making it easier to fall victim to bugs, viruses, and sickness. In our busy and overwhelmed culture, we are often taught that time management is the key to efficiency and getting more done in a day. However, studies have found that the brain’s attention resources drop after a long period of focusing on a single task, decreasing our focus and hindering performance. Brief breaks and diversions significantly increased one’s ability to focus on the specific task for a prolonged period of time.
“Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, it is renewable.” -Tony Schwartz, CEO and founder of The Energy Project
Instead of time management, maybe energy management is the better place to put our focus. Most of us burn our energy on high-intensity emotions, self-control, and counterproductive thinking. We spend a lot of time anticipating what is next and the process of how we get there and exhaust ourselves in the process. How can we get a better hold?
Cultivate an energy of calm, find the power in pause. Rest is not idleness: reflection is critical for our well-being and our health.
Start small if you have to, even if it’s a few minutes a day. Choose to do something different than your normal routine. Get creative and curious and have fun with it.