I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. We wake up in the middle of the night, and we just can’t fall back asleep no matter how hard we try. Or even just as bad, our body tells us we’re tired but then we lay in bed tossing and turning with sleep as just a distant memory. It’s frustrating and disheartening when that moment hits, it’s the time when we should be at our most relaxed and instead our physiology is as stressed out as ever.
Recently, I’ve been using an app called Headspace. In short, it’s a guided meditation, 10 minutes a day. I’ve always wanted to be better with my relationship with my thoughts. Between the fact that I have a million thoughts in my head going a million miles per hour, and my natural impulsiveness, it is hard for me to just let myself be. The minute I relax I catch another thought zooming by and I go after it like a dog chasing a car.
This app has helped immensely in teaching me simply to relate to my thoughts. To have a focus on my surroundings while also letting my thoughts pass me by and to just sit there and enjoy them. Through such a relationship I’ve gained better clarity, I’m able to think better, and during my daily quiet time I feel myself able to open up and become more readily available to simply listen to what God might be trying to tell me.
In this guided meditation, a fine British chap named Andy shares a secret to rest so simple it is often overlooked. When it comes to times that we should relax, whether it be sleep, a day off, or even just rest, we try too hard. Let that sink in for a moment. We try too hard to rest. Kind of funny, but it’s true.
The times we fall asleep are often the ones where our head just hits the pillow, nothing else.
It’s the hardest thing for us. To simply let go, and let be. I’m not about to go all Beatles on you and whisper the words of Mother Mary. In Matthew 11, Jesus’ only command for rest is that we simply come. That’s it. And somewhere along the lines we’ve turned this into a “To Do” list. I mean honestly, even on my day off I find a way to make a to do list.
Along with this, the other issue becomes the struggle of mindlessness. Some of us are really good at being mindless. Sometimes when I come home after a long day I just want to turn my brain off and watch tv. Yet this is not true rest.
When working with athletes and I tell them they have a rest day I still make sure to point out that the best kind of recovery is active recovery. The worst thing you can do on a day off from the gym is to sit around doing nothing. Rather you should still do stretching of some sort or maybe go for a walk. The same goes for our mind. Sure watching tv and mindlessness is nice, but if that’s the way we get our rest then no wonder we never actually feel rested.
I’ll be honest. In my own life, when I simply come and not turn off my brain but rather just rest; those are the times that I am able to truly sit still and just feel a peace amidst any turmoil.
Even for myself this paradigm shift requires breaking a few old habits and forming new ones. Yet the lesson is still there. That much like rest for the body entails a balance of being active without effort, so must rest for our whole being be the same.