Whether you follow the meteorological start of summer (June 1st) or the astronomical (June 21st Summer Solstice) start of summer, for most of us summer is well under way. Many view summer as a time for leisure resulting from relaxed schedules or hiatus from school and other seasonal employment. Unfortunately, for some, summer bodes even more activity; how do you find true REST in the midst of schedules packed with summer fun, yardwork and the usual responsibilities?
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.
Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.
We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.
in the good old summertime
In the interest of research, I eagerly surveyed as many people as possible from all walks of life for a composite picture of summer: specifically, was summer a season of “rest.” Asking everyone the same questions, I determined by and large, summer is not a season of rest for most people.
Interestingly, they remember when summer boasted restful times in their youth or earlier years of marriage. Elderly folks waxed especially nostalgic about the lazy, hazy days of summer even as young wives. “Life was simpler then” was a common refrain, followed by stories of picnics by the lake, evenings chasing fireflies and long walks on Sunday afternoons.
Without exception every parent I interviewed exhaustedly regaled me with endless summer “obligations” for the children and eagerly counted off the days until school started, “when things go back to normal”.
Of course those who garden, like my neighbor say summer’s bounty demands countless hours in the kitchen canning, freezing and cooking. Others like the man I met while picking out a rotisserie chicken (I now know I was doing it all wrong) say summer is the best time for all the projects you can’t do any other time.
Finding REST in any season
Among those viewing summer as a seasonal opportunity for rest, a colleague of mine commented rest in any season requires intentionality. Those who enjoyed restful breaks during the summer, set up boundaries for time stealers, imposed strict internet usage guidelines and scheduled relaxation time.
As an empty-nester employed full-time, one season rolls into the next for me without children’s activities and schedules interrupting the flow. Which contributes to a general plodding on without purposeful breaks.
Regardless of which season we view as more opportunistic for rest, we require intentional times of rest for recharging physically, emotionally and spiritually. But how do you find true REST without a willingness to “come apart”?
how to find rest
A psychiatrist friend of mine mentioned our American system of a week or two vacation is flawed. She said for most people, it takes that long before the limbic system realizes the body is no longer stressed. Perhaps the reasoning in Europe supporting thirty day vacations stems from this fact.
The conversations I hear largely support this idea, given the hectic preparations involved prior to vacation, everything we jam into the small amount of alloted time, and the exhaustion we feel upon returning.
While we cannot change the system, we can change our approach to rest by incorporating regular intervals of rest into our days or weeks. Similar to my RAIN technique for managing difficult emotions, I developed the REST technique for this purpose!
learn to REST
Simple and easy, the REST Technique adds opportunity for incorporating rest into your weeks during the summer or a great method for grabbing a headstart on a restful mindset prior to vacation!
Combining the REST Technique with a brief mindfulness break in my day, keeps anxiety at bay, settles my busy mind and focuses my attention on God’s sovereign care for me and my schedule.
Leaning into REST
Plan approximately twenty to thirty minutes for working through the REST practice. As with all of my mindfulness practice recommendations, secure a place with limited disturbances, where you also feel comfortable; I enjoy this practice outside! After ensuring your comfort, begin with a five minute Mindful Check In, which helps you transition from active life engagement to a quiet, calm presence. Upon completion of the Mindful Check In, simply sit quietly for a moment of two, noticing your thoughts and any emotions present.
Slowly transition through prayer to awareness of God’s Presence. Directing your mind to specific scripture helps ground you in the present moment. My standard verses are Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 116:7, for the REST practice. Stay focused on God’s Presence with you, His protection over you and His love for you. Maintain slow, mindful breathing, while moving through the REST practice.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28
the REST Technique
- R-Relinquish. Prayfully relinquish your schedule and control of your schedule to God’s soverign care. Place your To-Do list, responsibilities, expectations and others’ demands on your time in His hands. I like visualizing this exchange, as it lends power to my decision of relinquishing those things so I can move towards REST. You cannot move towards REST if you still hold tight to those things demanding your time.
- E-Encourage. As David in 1 Samuel 30:6, encourage yourself in the Lord. Our schedules, life’s demands and responsibilities press upon and distress us. We feel driven to accomplish and keep up. Find encouragement in God’s past faithfulness and promise of future faithfulness. Abide in Christ (John 15:4-5) so that He may strengthen you for what is needful.
- S-Shift. to move towards REST; you must shift where you currently are towards REST in the Lord. Prayerfully ask God for help moving toward Him, resting in Him and receiving rest from Him. Without a shift, you remain stuck in the grip of doing, when your greatest need is the stillness of being.
- T-Trust. True REST involves trusting God with everything you relinquished. Prayerfully seek God’s help for the true REST of trust. Trusting God means we no longer seek control of our time, schedules and acomplishments; because we fully surrender to His sovereignty over our time.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.Psalm 116:7
how do you find true REST?
How do you find true REST? By coming apart for a time of fellowship with the Lover of your soul. God’s Presence abides continually with you; in essence, you fellowship with Him in every moment. But an intentional lingering in His Presence through stillness or an extended time in His creation refreshes your weary soul.
Ultimately, true REST happens by allowing God to restore, replenish and refocus our hearts and minds. We prepare ourselves for receiving this REST from Him through relinquishing our schedules, responsibilities and demands, encouraging ourselves in Him, shifting from busyness towards Him and trusting everything to His sovereign care.