Spiritual rest is vital to your wellbeing. In the superconnected, fast-paced world we live in, it’s hard to set boundaries between work and rest. Even when you’re clocked out, you might get an email from your boss; or you spend your holiday thinking about projects you’re working on and things that need to get done. This lack of boundaries is one of the reasons why we have become so terrible at resting.
Rest is central to a meaningful spiritual wellness routine, and it’s also critical to your overall health. While it might seem like a spiritual wellness practice is all about doing more for your spirituality, sometimes it means taking a break—where less is more.
Spiritual Significance of Rest
Every living thing needs to rest in order to survive. And yet, we like to complain (brag?) about how little sleep we get, how busy and exhausted we are, how behind we are. Our culture has minimized the importance of rest, so much so that we forget just how much we need it. Without proper rest, your physical body can’t recover completely (often leading to illness) and your mind is more susceptible to stress and anxiety.
Just as your body needs a certain amount of sleep to function, your spirit also requires enough rest to recharge. Spiritual rest consists of the things you do to take a break, connect to your spiritual core, and commune with God. One of our previous articles says:
“Some religions practice a day of rest, also known as the Sabbath. This day of the week gives minds and bodies a break from the ongoing to-do list and provides an opportunity to be still. Other religions have similar rituals of rest, such as annual pilgrimages or daily meditation. In this stillness, we can find a greater connection with our spiritual core and a pull upward toward the universe. These connections allow us to see greater progress on our spiritual journey. Taking breaks, indeed, moves us forward.
“The Spiritual Renewal Technique encourages more regular relaxation and spiritual recharge throughout every day of the week. Each of our souls is similar to a battery that keeps us going. Work sucks a little energy. Keeping up with your social life drains it a little more. Grocery shopping depletes it. Because our spiritual core battery is slowly drained every day, finding regular ways to spiritually recharge is vital.”
Give Yourself Permission to Rest
Spiritual rest is the state of resting in the power of God, noticing that power and feeling that presence. For you, this could be going for a walk, reading scriptural texts, or even watching a powerful film. Because your spirit is at the center of everything you do, what qualifies as spiritual rest could be just about anything, and it varies from person to person.
Spiritual rest includes whatever you do to nourish your spirit and connect with God. When you’re in a resting state, you allow yourself to simply be. You don’t try to fill your time with things to do. You recognize that rest and relaxation are just as important as action and discipline. In fact, learning to rest requires discipline for a lot of us!
A lot of people have a hard time truly resting because they like to keep themselves busy. If you’re one of those people, give yourself permission to rest. In a short video on the Skylight app, Sade Jones says:
“It's okay to rest, it's okay to take a beat. Inhale. Exhale. You are supported and loved by your higher power who's got your back. Rest in that power. Rest in that love. Rest in that peace. If you're focused on the past, that could lead to depression. If you're focused on the future so much, it could lead to anxiety. So I wanna encourage you to rest in the present, and know that you are taken care of. Remember to be true to yourself, and the divine, and know that God loves you.”
Your body knows what it needs. So when it tells you it needs a break, listen and respond. Honor your body. For example, I find that in the winter I’m more tired. Instead of keeping the same sleep schedule all year, I start my bedtime routine a bit earlier in the winter so I can respond to my body’s call for rest.
How to Practice Spiritual Rest
Like I said in the last section, spiritual rest looks different for everyone. You’ll have to find what works best for you. Here are a few examples of spiritually restful activities:
● Playing an instrument or listening to music
● Worshiping in a church
You can make your spiritual rest what you want it to be.
Now, you might think resting means watching TV all day. But it really doesn’t. Even though your body is technically resting, your mind is still on, absorbing new information for hours on end. Another example: Have you ever “taken a break” by scrolling through TikTok and then, after an hour, not felt any better than you did before? That’s because it wasn’t really a break!
True spiritual rest always leads to spiritual renewal. That’s a key indicator for knowing whether something is spiritually restful. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to find what forms of spiritual rest resonate the best with you:
● Does this activity make you feel refreshed and renewed?
● Do you feel connected to yourself during and/or after this activity?
● Does this activity give you a new perspective or remind you of your core values?
If the answers to these questions are ‘yes’, then you’ve found a way to practice spiritual rest.
Spiritual Rest and the Divine Feminine
Spiritual rest is a way to connect with the divine feminine:
“The divine feminine is a higher power that helps you find balance in your life and become a better version of yourself. Some people believe that only people who identify as women can or should have relationships with the divine feminine, but this isn’t true. All people can connect with it, and all people can benefit by doing so. When you seek a relationship with the divine feminine, you uncover your true self and realize the power of rest.
“The divine feminine is the force that urges you to rest and renew yourself. The divine feminine unlocks the door to your process of rebirth, whether it’s spiritually, physically, mentally, or emotionally. When you access your creativity, perhaps you take some inspiration from the divine feminine. The divine feminine encourages you to look within yourself and ponder what life means to you.”
When you experience true rest, it is life-giving, just like the divine feminine. True rest is spiritual rest, and the divine feminine can help you find that rest. For a guided journal meditation about seeking the divine feminine, click here.
Doing Nothing as Spiritual Rest
Even though spiritual rest includes a wide variety of wellness practices, all of us can benefit from doing absolutely nothing from time to time. Thomas McConkie, host of the Mindfulness+ podcast, shares his own experience with doing nothing. He describes it as an act of faith. Doing nothing can be pretty daunting! Here’s what Thomas has to say about it:
“The first principle: Whatever happens happens. Not trying to control anything in any way, including and especially, your attention. Not trying to concentrate, not trying to meditate, not trying to get somewhere or make something happen or stop something from happening. Just sit.
“Second principle: If you catch yourself trying to control your attention, drop that intention. Whatever happens happens. If you catch yourself trying to focus, trying to pay attention in a particular way, drop that intention. . . . But if attention is just doing what it's doing, not responding to your conscious intention, it's okay. It's not you doing anything. It's nature paying attention.
“As you just sit, you might find yourself getting very settled and concentrated, enjoying equanimity. In other words, a meditative state. If that's happening, that's just fine. As you're just sitting, you might notice inattention, your mind bouncing around from thing to thing to thing, discomfort in the body, non-equanimity. If that's the case, that's just fine.
“We're not going for any desired state. We're not trying to produce something or get somewhere. If anything, we're allowing ourselves to get nowhere. Sometimes there's a temptation to continuously scan to see if the self is doing something. And to continuously scan would be to do something. You do not need to continuously scan to see if the self is doing something. Have faith. Let yourself do nothing. Just sit. Do nothing. Get nowhere.”
We’re so wired for productivity that the idea of “getting nowhere” may feel like a waste of time. But your body, mind, and spirit need time to go nowhere! When was the last time you truly sat and did nothing? Try out Thomas’s guided practice here—it’s a much more immersive experience than just reading it in this post.