According to the dictionary rest means to cease work or movement in order to relax or recover strength/energy. However, I think rest is so much more than this and although it seems contradictory, rest does not always have to involve inactivity. It can simply mean doing things in a different way.
Recently I have committed to living more mindfully. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” It is about being fully present in the here and now. Concentrating on what is happening moment-by-moment allows our minds to refocus away from the busyness of life and feel calmer. I also feel more alive than ever before and can deal with challenging life circumstances far better.
And the great thing is anything can be done mindfully. Especially in the great outdoors!
Read on for some ideas.
1. Get creative
There are many, many ways to be creative either by being outdoors or simply by getting inspiration from nature. I can often be found taking photos, sketching or writing about something natural. However, colouring-in is my thing right now.
There has definitely been a craze for this in the last couple of years and I can see why. An activity that doesn’t need much thought beyond ‘what colour pen shall I use?’ is a great buffer for the many complex tasks we often try to complete in a day. To get a fuller experience I try to really notice the different shades as I put pen to paper, I use a variety of hand movements to create a different patterns, and I frequently sit back and contemplate my handiwork. My favourite pictures include natural things like leaves, flowers or trees, or I may choose to use earthy colours. But the experience can be just as calming whatever you colour-in.
So come on, grab a colouring book/sketch pad/notepad/whatever then get outside and enjoy it. I’d love to hear how nature inspires your creativity.
2. Rest actively
Sometimes getting away from the normal humdrum (or chaos!) of life and doing something different can be restful.
I’ve enjoyed many strenuous mountain treks, feeling the wind in my hair and blowing away the cobwebs. They’ve taken me away from other life activities and while not physically restful have certainly restored my soul and refreshed my mind. Often the next day my body also relaxed.
You don’t have to walk up mountains to get this kind of rest however. Just find something physically active that you are able to do – it could be a slow stroll down the road or some arm stretches from your chair. And even better if you can get outside to do it; perhaps a walk to the local pond to observe the changing seasons, or do those chair activities in your garden! As long as it’s different from other things in your life and you become totally absorbed in it you will reap the benefits.
3. Immerse yourself in nature
It’s well known today that being in nature is good for our wellbeing. There’s oodles of scientific research and personal testimonies supporting this truth. Just do a google search on ‘nature and wellbeing’ and you’ll see.
Only this morning I was lying in bed listening to birdsong and it lifted my spirits. I was able to rest amid the pleasant twittering of the dawn chorus and it made me feel positive about the coming day.
Why not try walking to a peaceful place by running water? Sit down a while and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world. Allow your senses to absorb your surroundings. Stop and rest a moment… Breathe… Slow down… You’ll notice so much more.
It really pays to stop every once in a while. I love the Bible verse ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46: 10a). Sitting peacefully with Him in His perfect Creation enlivens and refreshes me in a way that can only be achieved by total immersion in the natural world.
However you choose to do it, I pray you will get some proper rest.
How are you going to enjoy resting in Creation this week?
[This post was originally published on my ‘creation, life, adventure’ blog, 16/06/17 – no longer available]