It’s a question that’s been plaguing me. And my nearest and dearest too. If I’ve had one person telling me to rest, there must have been a hundred. And I’m not exaggerating. Literally 100!
I’m afraid I’m a bit of a workaholic. Maybe it’s because I’ve got the best job in the world. More probably it’s just me. A driven Type A personality that always wants to be achieving something, creating and running with new ideas.
I love to think and plan. So I’ve usually come up half a dozen ideas before breakfast. Most of them I wouldn’t have the time or energy to implement. I love doing this. It’s part of who I am. But having a brain like this may stop me living in the moment. I’m really quite jealous of those folk who can live in the moment, without a care in the world. To enjoy and experience things as they are now without constantly thinking about next week or next month. But maybe resting is partly to do with developing that skill. At least for me.
Professor Mark Williams of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre says, “It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.”
It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us.
He gives some guidelines for Mindfulness. To start by actively noticing the world around us, as well as paying attention to the messages from our own bodies. It’s very easy to be on autopilot, living inside our own heads, but he suggests sees ideas as buses. You can notice them going by, but you don’t have to get on them. Also he suggests take up walking. But the power-walking you need to do to get your heart pumping may not be the kind he is thinking of!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Many develop Mindfulness as a daily discipline. And it can have a spiritual aspect to it. Christians have practiced daily meditation for centuries. It is an awareness of our closeness to God, a resting in the moment and a listening not just to our bodies and to the world around us, but most importantly to God. I’m not a natural contemplative, but when I slow down enough to listen, I find that God speaks.
Maybe this enforced rest is God’s way of encouraging me to listen more to him. I could try some of these meditations from the Christian Mindfulness website. Or I could just sit in the garden and listen to the birds.
I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Or the words of Saint Augustine, writing about Jesus 1600 years ago. “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” (Augustine, Confessions (Book 1)
It’s funny, isn’t it? Mindfulness is a modern concept, but the idea of finding peace of body, mind and spirit are ancient. And it’s only found in Jesus.
I shall try to listen to my 100 counsellors. I’ll try to take these weeks as an opportunity to listen to the present, to find my rest in God. No more worrying about the future. The present is enough for now.