Wisdom From The Yoga Mat
“Just because you aren’t moving doesn’t mean something isn’t happening.”
Melyssa, the yoga instructor, said those words as we were sprawled out on the mat holding a pose to stretch our tightly strung muscles. We were not moving, but we were learning to surrender into the mat, to relax, let go and rest. We were learning to train our minds to be in the present moment, rather than looking ahead to all that was on our to-do list. We were stretching the parts of our bodies that had gotten tight and painful from overuse and bad habits. We were not moving but much was happening.
Sometimes we get fooled into thinking that we always have to be on the move. My worth is directly proportional to the amount I produce has been the message inside my head for most of my life. This kept me in a constant state of doing – a workaholic. I was all for recommending rest for other people but found it difficult to practice myself. Who would I be if I did not produce?
When we are in positions of leadership or responsible for the care of others, it is easy to fall into the belief that we have no time to rest. Busy has become the standard answer to those inquiring as to how we are. This state of being has become prized in our world and we wear our busy-bee badges with pride. If someone were to say that they were not busy, we may look down on them and wonder what they were doing with their lives. While there is much good that comes from working hard and doing our best as an act of worship to God, at times we end up taking it to the and extreme and become unable to rest from our labors. We have been led to believe that the ability to rest and observe Sabbath has little or no value. And yet, Jesus calls us to rest. We are commanded throughout Scripture to observe Sabbath and we are called to cease our striving and know God.
Rest does not necessarily mean lying on your couch and bingeing on Netflix, although that could be part of it. The concept of Biblical Sabbath rest includes ceasing from the work we have been doing (as God did following the work of creation), engaging in some time of silence and stillness, and participating in life-giving pursuits. For some, this might mean getting away from everything and walking in the woods, for others it may mean sitting down for a meal with your favorite people. Rest does not preclude labor of any sort. I may find gardening to be a way that fills up my reserves so that would constitute rest for me. This practice becomes a reset button for our inner life. It helps us to realign ourselves to God’s economy and timing.
Our failure to rest is often rooted in pride. We have become convinced that our future depends completely on us, so how could we possibly rest? Perhaps we have believed that the success of our ministry, health, business, or children rests on our shoulders. We succumb to workaholism to keep up with all the demands. We fight rest, afraid of what might happen if we stopped even for a few minutes each day.
What would happen if we took the time to sit in God’s presence—to come to Him with no agenda, and no check list? To surrender on our mats? To cease all of our striving and instead become like a child sitting in our Father’s lap?
Perhaps we would become aware of the moments we have been missing in all of our busyness. Those times we chose our to-do list over visiting with a friend, one more story at bedtime, a soak in the bath, or gazing into the star filled sky.
If we quiet ourselves and receive the rest that God offers we might see just how empty we really are. Instead of ministering from the overflow that Jesus provides, we have allowed our bucket to get empty. There has been too much going out and not enough coming in. We end up impoverished ourselves and unable to provide much of value to anyone else. Jesus’ invitation is to come and be filled so that we can have rivers of living water flowing from us: a spring that never dries up. It is very hard to fill up a moving bucket; in order to be filled we need to be still in His presence.
True rest is a bold act of faith. We are recognizing and staking our lives on the fact that God is sovereign, good, and that He holds all things. Resting allows us to open our hands from all that we are juggling and holding onto and leave outcomes in the hands of God where they belong.
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” is what our teacher tells us. Imagine that rest is allowing ourselves to surrender to the Maker of the earth and to relax in the knowledge that He has “got” us. All of the muscles that have been straining to keep up all of our good work can loosen in the realization that even as we rest, God is working. As we train our minds to focus on our Father, we gain a proper perspective on our own importance, enter into the moment and enjoy His presence. When we come to Jesus and rest, even though we are not moving, much is happening.
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28 NIV)