The Art of Rest


When you do things several days in a row, how does it affect you? Does it become habit, or does it burn you out?

I don’t know how to pace myself, a lot of the time. I’m still taking leaps and bounds and then finding myself spending the next few days with more aches and pains than I thought possible at one time.

Today, I am feeling tension in my body. I know the body is a wise communicator and it is telling me something important about myself. When my shoulders feel they are carrying a massive weight, is that weight perhaps the pressure of expectations? When my head feels full and heavy, is it possibly because I am spending too much time on sorting through complex issues? Do my eyes burn because I am trying to live in too many other worlds? (Any but my own!)

There is a simple solution. I must learn to rest. But how do I do that? Beyond the obvious of getting more sleep or having less screen time, what else is there?

I do not have a solution so much as a theory. I believe that rest can be an art, too. I think the whole world would do well to embrace the art of rest. But how does that work in practical ways? I think the answer lies in doing something different. Artful rest would be engaging in activities outside the normal demands or pursuits of the day.

Here are some that work for me:

  1. Sacred Seeing. My friend Jennifer Upton has taught me more than anyone else I know in this field. To simply view life in a new light or a new angle or a new area. To expect the unexpected. To allow myself to be surprised by the everyday. A great way to do that is through taking a photo walk; keeping the camera close while contemplating all there is to see.

  2. Baking. There are endless combinations to discover in the kitchen. This is where craving and creativity meet. Where hunger is more than a metaphor for desires; it is a matter of taking responsibility for meeting that hunger with something that nourishes. The act of kitchen wizardry- transforming ingredients into a satisfying meal- is a soul-filling kind of rest. (But yes, there are still dishes. Let me know how you solve that one!)

  3. Writing letters or creating art pieces to gift to loved ones. This sacred act of creating an art piece with someone specific in mind is one of my favorites. It’s not that I don’t make art for just myself sometimes, but it has more creative recovery woven in when I am pouring my love into it. When each stroke of the brush or the pen is a prayer for a friend; each moment savoring the joy of delighting someone with my unique creativity.

  4. Interacting with music. Whether I’m directly involved by playing my 88-key synthesizer (on piano voice) or singing my heart out, or mixing it up with a little free-style dancing to the music I love to hear, it’s a way to set my inner child free to be expressive. Setting my inner child free is always remarkably restful.

Figuring out the art of rest will be a lifetime pursuit for me, I'm sure. Right now, it is important to my practice of stability to explore this avenue.

What are some practices you have discovered that are an artful form of rest?

Please share them with me or blog about them and share the link to your post.


Read the rest of the 31 Days of Stability series here.

Jamie Bagley