Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindful Monday: Losing Our Fear of Rest

s-MEDITATION-large.jpgI have been having a difficult time writing the “Mindful Monday” posts lately because I’m the opposite of mindful these days. You know how the Buddhist monks talk about the swinging monkeys of the brain, and how you need to tame them? Well, my monkeys have just spotted a jungle gym inside a McDonald’s and are having a grand old time. I don’t think they will be settling down anytime soon.


Alas. I will quote from a dude who has this mindful thing mastered: Howard Thurman, who died in 1981, and was a mystic, theologian, minister, and activist. His grandmother, who raised him with his mother, was a slave and was, for him, a great example of courage and faith. Anyway, here he is on the importance of rest and our fear of it.


We must find sources of strength and renewal for our own spirits, lest we perish. There is a widespread recognition of the need for refreshment of the mind and the heart. It is very much in order to make certain concrete suggestions in this regard. First, we must learn to be quiet, to settle down in one spot for a spell. Sometime during each day, everything should stop and the art of being still must be practiced. For some temperaments, it will not be easy because the entire nervous system and body have been geared over the years to activity, to overt and tense functions. Nevertheless, the art of being still must be practiced until development and habit are sure …

Such periods may be snatched from the greedy demands of ones day’s work. They may be islanded in a sea of other human beings; they may come only at the end of the day, or in the quiet hush of the early morning. We must, each one of us, find his own time and develop his own peculiar art of being quiet.


We must lose our fear of rest.

There are some of us who keep up our morale by being always busy. We have made a fetish of fevered action. We build up our own sense of security by trying to provide a relentless, advantageous contract between ourselves and others by the fevered, intense activities in which we are engaged. Actually, such people are afraid of quiet. Again, most activities become a substitute for the hard-won core of purpose and direction. The time will come when all activities are depressing and heavy, and the dreaded question, “What’s the use?” will have to be faced and dealt with. The first step in the discovery of sources of strength and renewal is to develop the art of being still, physical and mental cessation from churning. That is not all, but it is the point at which we begin.


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  • Nancy

    A wonderful post, Theresa. It is harder to be quiet than to talk, be active. At least being retired, I read a lot which to me is quiet time.
    I hope someone stops the ads and spam in the first comment. How rude!

  • MsHolly

    Well said! A must to teach to our our busy children as well, this art of resting our minds daily.

  • Fran

    I recently retired early (and I am single and live alone), and I thought I was prepared for retirement but I wasn’t. However, I am very much an introvert, so this has been easier for me than for an extrovert, I think. But I finally had to make a list of all the things I want to do (short-term and long-term) before I die, and then I had to cross a lot of things off my lists, because I knew I needed rest and silence and solitude. So I exercise every day, try to get to Mass each day, go to college PT, volunteer 3-4 hours each week, and I try to socialize with friends at least one full day or one-half day each week. Each day has an hour built into it where I do nothing but just sit and think and/or read. At least one weekend a month, I do nothing but stay in the house, study, sleep, read, from Friday aftn to Monday morning (no TV, no Internet, no cell phone, no radio). I realize that this would not be a good schedule for anyone who is working outside the home and/or has children still living at home. But we all need at least an hour a day to our selves, and we need to stop buying into what our society tells us and that is: If we’re not productive every moment and leaping tall buildings with a single bound, we are useless and worthless.

  • Barbara

    This is a great post, thank you for the reminder to slow down and be mindful. I love he way he proposed the process of rest.

  • Cyndi

    I also retired early after a hectic teaching career.It was very difficult the first couple of years to allow myself the luxury of quiet ,introspective time and to have “do nothing” time.
    I finally “get it” (to some degree) and realize the importance of going within and re-dedicating yourself to what the truly important things are in life.
    I practice Yoga, volunteer several hours a week, sing Gregorian chants and enjoy reading, cooking , gardening and spending time with my family…Thanks Therese for a beutiful post….

  • seab

    Well said! A must to teach to our our busy children as well, this art of resting our minds daily.
    Read more:

  • Shelly

    Thanks you Therese for spreading the wisdom. In just the last six months I have started developing this habit, and what a difference it has made in my life. Although I have a very busy schedule, I have made it a point to meditate in small increments throughout the day and the value of rest can not be stressed enough. I deeply appreciate & enjoy all your posts!

  • Rosa

    A beautiful post, and just what I needed today. It reminds me so much f the psalmist who wrote: “Be still and know that I am God” (46:9)
    Thank you for this beautiful work.

  • K Baldwin

    Most of the humans on this planet are wound so tight that taking a break or meditating seems impossible. I am one of those people. I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. That will slow you down. I have had a very difficult time with this. It has been over 18 months and like it or not I have slowed down. Not by choice. I will read Thurman’s book. I would like to enjoy this slowing down time. Maybe this is what I have been waiting on. I will write more when I have read his suggestions.

  • J Archer

    Sometimes the best thing I can do is lie down and close my eyes to stop my mind from churning. The hard part is to convince myself that this is okay to do and doesn’t mean I am lazy. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Bobbe

    I’m reading “Eat, Pray and Love”, and its teaching me quite a bit. I recently found out that when I start to have haughting thoughts that throw me in to depression, I simply say STOP…. the thought goes away. In the beginning I may have said this 30 times a day, but now just a few short weeks later I maybe have two times a day. When I start getting upset by people who are trying to play havoc with my husband and my brains in regards to our grandson, I find I can dismiss these evil people from occupying my temple. I’m happier for that. But, I must admit I have no clue on how to totally shut down for even a short period of time.

  • mark

    40 Days to a closer walk with God- by David Muyskens. Powerful book about “centering prayer”, simple guidelines for effective meditation and quiet time. If you are like me you will find it HARD to practice being still and quiet but the rewards are more than worth it. PERSEVERE!!!

  • Lisa

    As a woman who’s struggled for most of my life with a mood disorder and insomnia I think I’ve gone in the other direction. I fear not getting enough rest because it’s pivotal to my physical and mental/emotional/spiritual well-being. Our society is in such overdrive that I don’t see how even “normal” people can bear it. The distractions and stimuli are overwhelming and leave little time for relationships, thought, and communing with God and our own hearts. I relish an empty house now, peace and quiet for an hour or two! Naps aren’t for sissies, they recharge and refresh the body and mind. Two or three days of cutting my sleep time and I’m ready to snap, irritable, moody, unhappy, it’s just not worth it. I’m so much more productive and content when well rested. For those on impossible schedules and with small children, I wish you well.

  • SuzanneWA

    As a person with bipolar disorder, my antipsychotic medication makes me restless, always jumping up from whatever I’m “resting at,” just to be doing SOMETHING. This not only drives ME nuts, but also the friends I have who are visiting. It’s getting a LOT better than it was; I’m able to sit at the computer for 2 hours without a break. I DO understand about “quiet time,” but my “monkies,” too, keep my mind over stimulated, and it’s VERY difficult to be “still, and know that I am God.” However,, whenever I take a moment to reflect on the entire verse that that is from – it DOES calm me. I am a victim of my own emotions and brain activity. Oh, how I WISH for peace and quiet – not even the strongest pill can calm me. Plese pray for me…

  • Anne

    This is a huge struggle for me. With 5 kids and a deep concern for many people in my life I’m always finding something I need to do to feel as though I’m reaching the people who matter to me. I’m often feeling selfish. I can be rather “air-headed” with the relentless mind activity just sapping my ability to coherently function… when I do stop for peaceful mindful moments I’m finding sadness with the thoughts of what I “should” be doing. Winter is the hardest time for me with that. I feel it much more intensely.
    This article reminds me I’m doing no one any favors by continually being full of this emotional energy on the go.

  • Your Name

    AS one whose Beta brain waves have the tendancy to be quiet active at times, it is quiet a blessing to learn how to be still. Feels good. Thank you for the article

  • Terri

    in my opinion, this inability to stop “doing” is another of the many addictions here in the physical world. and, there is fear. fear because we know we are avoiding being still because of our insecurities and other supposed failings our ever vocal “judge” cheerfully points out constantly. and, when things get really frightening, for instance in my own case, i have been unemployed for eight months now. and, pickings are so slim in the job market as to be almost nil. my unemployment doesn’t cover all my bills, and, most of them have a balance right now…….credit cards?………..phhhhttt, can’t even buy food to pay normal bills, let alone pay the credit card companies. so, yesterday, i prayed to my guardian angels, my spirit guides and God/dess, and i am already getting reassurances and insights that let me know that even in these dire circumstances, i am okay right where i am, because i am in a deep transition point in my life and i need to be quiet and still to get direction on what and where i’m headed next………i have been telling my friends for some time that i don’t think i’m meant to go back to office work. however, i have no idea or direction to go towards. all i know is that i love working with elderly people. i love helping them do the basic things of life such as walking and eating, and just being there to listen to them or talk. anyways, suppose that’s it for now……

  • JiLL

    This is to Suzanne, who wrote this:
    but my “monkies,” too, keep my mind over stimulated, and it’s VERY difficult to be “still, and know that I am God.” However,, whenever I take a moment to reflect on the entire verse that that is from – it DOES calm me. I am a victim of my own emotions and brain activity. Oh, how I WISH for peace and quiet – not even the strongest pill can calm me. Plese pray for me…
    Suzanne, I see you wrote this a while ago, but I can relate to what you said in your message. I did pray for you and I hope you are doing better. I would ask for you to pray for me also. I can relate to the first 3 messages for sure. I pray for all of us on here… I wish they had a group where we could all talk about similar problems and circumstances. I have sleep issues that are getting even more serious, but there’s nowhere to turn. The hospitals don’t really do anything and Dr.s don’t really take a personal interest in your problems, at least most of them don’t. They just try to feel you anti-depressants…. Sometimes it feels so hopeless, but I don’t want to lose the fight. I have always believed in God and Jesus, but since I’ve been depressed or had a nervous breakdown, I am on shaky ground. I think God left me and thats the most horrible thing to feel in the world. I hope the good Lord has mercy on me and lets me know He is here for me and with me, even if I don’t feel it. God Bless you all and Suzanne, if you see this, will you write me back?? My email is :)

  • Audrey

    This is to Terrie who wrote:
    because i am in a deep transition point in my life and i need to be quiet and still to get direction on what and where i’m headed next………i have been telling my friends for some time that i don’t think i’m meant to go back to office work. however, i have no idea or direction to go towards. all i know is that i love working with elderly people. i love helping them do the basic things of life such as walking and eating, and just being there to listen to them or talk.
    Terrie, you have your answer. God always needs ones who love working with the elderly. Be still and know that God is faithful. Wait on the door that is alredy being opened for you in your new life. I will not call it a job or career. It is a blessing! In the meantime, he is providing for your day to day needs and your bills. Watch and see that the Lord is Good and His mercies endure forever.

  • Peggy w

    Dear Therese,
    Hope you are experiencing rest times for yourself. Thank you for all you do for us who need you.

  • earl knight

    God knows about all our troubles and problems and he will never leave you or forsaken you. He understands the pressure of life experiences and disappoitments that we lived each and every day because he came from heaven in spirit form into human fresh.

  • rosa bland

    is true we all need a moment of peace.and not off fear.

  • Katrina

    @Jill God never walks away. It cannot as God is Source of all things. Only we walk away by through the layers of conditionings and ill thoughts that keep us mired in false realities, false perceptions of ourSelves. We forget we are Light, Love is all there is. You are processing a lot of information and only need to settle into each moment. It is a difficult task but one that is completely under your power to just breathe. This moment is all you have … and this one … this present moment. You can only effectively process one moment at a time. Drop all stress concerning past & future. There’s only now and your greatest power is here. The Buddhists call this present moment, The Golden Gate, our most powerful opportunity. So engage in things that uplift you. Do not spend your time in toxic negative energy. Go out in nature if you can. Meditate. Breathe & be still. Allow the layers of garbage to fall away, go within and touch the face of God. You deserve good things. You are loved. You are Love. Re-member ?

  • Revel

    Thank-you, Therese,
    for your courage, honesty and openness, which helps
    so many.
    To Terri, I work in a nursing home, and the people there
    who help the elderly people regain their mobility and
    ADL (activities of daily living) skills, such as eating,
    are the physical therapist and occupational therapist, respectively.
    Physical therapists’ and occupational therapists’ training is four years. The PT ASSISTANT AND OT ASSISTANT have a higher salary than I do (I work in recreation. Their basic course of college study is
    just two years.
    “The good that I am seeking is also seeking me.”
    Thanksgiving blessings to all.

  • Your Name—–Margaret

    I have been a caretaker all of my life and try to solve my families problems. Right now my daughters, son,and grandson are facing difficulties. They confide in me and I take it all to heart and try to help. I am also a caretaker of my sister in a nursing home. I have difficulty sleeping (which I have had for years), and I lay awake trying to solve and give the right advise.My mind just can’t seem to settle down. My second husband of 5 years, is very supportive. He has no children and sometimes has a hard time understanding.
    I just can’t seem to stop thinking about everything, and am exhausted in the a.m.
    Can you help me?

  • Mark

    This shouldn’t be a hard sell for the viewers of this website.
    We are already half way home just by being here. We just need these kinds of daily reminders. Thanks for being.

  • Velda Lowery

    I just began to actually sit down and relax and do nothing. Well not actually doing nothing. I am learning to center my thoughts on the goodness of the Lord. I still feel a little guilty, but not as much as I did two years ago.

  • JiLL

    Katrina, thank you for answering my message, I didn’t know how to get back to this forum or what-have-you. I just stumbled in here looking at the email I received Losing Our Fear of Rest.
    You are so right about letting go of the past and living in the present. I am copying your message so I can reflect on it. I sooo appreciate you taking the time to write me. That made me feel so good that somebody cares. Human touch, whether its to hold someone physically, or to reach out in words, is so heartfelt and much needed to survive I feel. I am grateful for that, always!! God bless you Katrina, richly, and May the Lord be ever so compassionate to us all. I am still struggling with whether God loves me and I so want to know He does. Why can’t I know this anyways? Pray for me to know and understand and desire Gods word. I thank everyone who has prayed for me because prayer is the best.! Love you all… and thanks again Katrina here is my email address:buckie48192@yahoo, just incase, cause I can’t always navigate properly back to these sites :)

  • Eva

    I am one of those who keeps up my morale by always being busy. And so I have ignored the email about “losing the fear of rest”. I was too busy to read it. And yes, I am afraid of quiet. And how my thoughts and worries will overwhelm me. But I paused to read the article today and … I am glad I did.

  • Hilda

    I have a history of having sleeping problems. It has been going on for so long I started to think this was normal. I find that when I have the most stress be it work issues, family difficulties, schooling, etc. that is the time I really have a hard time with sleeping. It seems like days I go without sleep. I lay down but am not able to get the much needed sleep to function well the next day. This has been a contributing factor to my progress in the things I need to get done. Medication has helped somewhat, but dealing with this kind of concern has been a challenge.

  • pamylla

    There is never a FEAR of rest! Just an inability to have the time to get as much rest as we need. But this article does reiterate the face that we need to TAKE the time to just slow down instead of rushing around like mad chickens. Thanks for the timely reminder, especially at this busy time of year. :)

  • Jennifer

    Hi my children are adults now I used to be real busy when I had my family then I went thru a divorice and had to learn to live by myself. It was verylonely and depressing. Now I am laid back I have some goals but I am not as driven emotionally as I had been is the a bad thing?

  • martha

    I thought I was the only one who didn’t sleep. Last night I was wide awake all night. It’s not like I sleep during the day….I just don’t sleep.
    This is an interesting article because, I feel like I must be doing something every minute (i.e. learning something, writing something, etc…) Yet friends say to me what do you do all day????
    I’ll give you all a hint, I don’t get bored. I have so many projects to work on, I guess I just get overwhelmed….
    Thank you for the forum!

  • Patricia

    I grew up a Quaker..we call it the Society of Friends. There is a lot to be said for quiet contemplation in the spiritual sense. That’s what we did in the old meetings which we would call our services. Now, meetings are kinda noisy with chatter. I think it’s people without the hundreds of years of experience with Quakerism that birthrights have. Still, they bring something to it. But 4 me, I need time 4 quiet contemplation. Very restorative. I know I need to find a way 2 get away from the chatter when I go back to meeting. As to sleeping, well, women who are menopauasal don’t sleep well. Instead of lying in bed worrying about this or that I get up and do something else.

  • Frederick Arend

    I used to have trouble getting to sleep, but now I have a self hypnosis CD which is really very interesting and distracts my thoughts from my dificulty’s and really helps me sleep.

  • Scott

    It is so true that we are reluctant to rest. When rest becomes the most important priority in our lives, we always do it, no matter how busy we think we need to be. Rest becomes the first thing we do, rather than the last. And amazingly, things still get done, and even with more awareness and intention.

  • Lynne

    I think that still time is essential.
    Just think:
    Be still and know that I am God
    Be still and know that I Am
    Be still and know
    Be still
    Blessings to all for the new year!

  • nanlyn51

    Therese I so enjoy how open and honest you are about sharing the difficult times in your life. I’m also bipolar and have a history of psych problems going back to my teen years, which were never treated adequately, if at all. So I so enjoy Beyond Blue. I’m not always able to read them all, but I save the ones I can’t read in a separate folder in my in box. This post particularly hit home with me, as I do know how important it is in finding a chance to quiet your mind for a time, even if only 10 or 15 minutes and the advantages of doing that.
    I want to ask you one question do you ever post about the problem of Adult ADD? I was recently diagnosed in July of last year at the age of 58. It thew me for a loop finding that out. I’m reading as much as I can on the subject to educate myself on this disorder and will be starting a co-coaching group on Monday the 10th which I am positive about it and that I will be helped tremendously. I also know that Psych Central is a great resource for any psychiatric difficulties. You do such a good job of taking the necessary steps to keep yourself healthy. Just want to say thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and putting in the time to do so, especially with a husband and kids to take time to be with. I am absolutely in awe of you and admire you so much. This is a long comment, and but I just had to finally share how much I do admire.

  • Glenda Brown

    Therese and Nanlyn and others- I love reading the column. I am 60 and have been working with a non profit organization the past 2 years teaching youth about mindfulness-check out our website- we are in Virginia. We offer teen and adult retreats. Good luck Nanlyn- I struggle with ADD or bipolar, fibromyalgia or depression- who knows what- I’ve never gotten a diagonosis- but over the past two years since I have been involved with mindfulness, I am learning to be in the present moment more and relax and not always run away from things and spend too much time helping others rather than myself.

  • Sherry Ali

    Blessed quiet, blessed rest
    Helps me to be my very best
    When I’m faced with bitter tests
    I realized that I am blessed
    Blessed quiet, blessed rest
    Take some time from your eager quest
    Sometimes more can equal less
    When you forfeit quiet rest
    Take the time to rest your mind
    And you’ll find peace, joy sublime
    Lay your head on God’s wide breast
    Melt into your quiet rest
    Blessed quiet, blessed rest
    Ease your pain, your soul confess
    To God who gives you comfort and peace
    Quiet rest is sweet relief
    by Sherry Ali

  • Virgie Gilmore

    This is the second time I’ve saw this post from Therese and I loved it the first time I read it. I’ve been feeling a bit run down lately and I’m so glad that she brings it back as a refresher. It couldn’t have come at a better time!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pamylla

    I don’t know about anyone else, but it is never a FEAR! Rest is something I never get enough due to TIME. “Fear” is not a part of the equation at all.

  • http://Youweretalkingdirectlytome. Marjorie

    Some of us ( rather I) have taken the Christian work ethic too seriously and have lost the art of relaxing; As a result I
    keep finding myself more often on “overload” and doing a lot of forgetting.

    What strategies do you use to keep you abreast of all the significant minutiae and maxitiae( my neologism) and remain sane ?

    Be well, MBR

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Chepie

    Well thought out comments. However, those of us, like myself who find it difficult to quite out minds because of all the “heavy” stuff that I have to carry around with me daily, it becomes almost a task to force rest. I am trying to learn to meditate, but that even invokes thoughts of why, and who, and how. Learning to “rest” is certainly up-hill climb for some of us who have alot on our plates and cannot just shut dowm for 8 hours to sleep. Even when sleeping, the dreams take the place of my dormaint mind. It is a challenge that I have to work hard at and sometimes I feel it is a losing battle. But, thank you for bringing it up and using those kind words that help to soothe the (my) highly active mind.

  • Karen

    Christian ethics teach us to work hard,trust,believe and to rest in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are obedient to the Word of God we won’t be stressed. Remember, Matthew 11:28-30. vs 28 Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden,and I will give you rest. vs 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. vs 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Jesus Himself spoke these words; how many of us have just hurried,scampering through each day being harried and stressed in getting “things” done and forgotten these simply stated and easily done verses? Reading the Word, Prayer,listening to a sermon; all of this is quiet time!! It is just as important to feed our souls as well as our bodies with good nourishment. Think on that!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment John

    Amen to Karen…

    reading theses comments and considering where this is found..I am amazed at the lack of references to our Lord Jesus…the verses referenced by Karen tell us that in the midst of the strife of the world..our soul can be at peace with rest,,,knowing the word.

    this is not to diminish the physical rest we all need , but no matter where we are or what we are doing..we can be at rest , in the knowledge of the Word.

  • http://Lookingforsleep Sonny

    I am a retired legal assistant and now for the first time in my life I know what it is like to not be stressed! Don’t worry young mothers and workers your time will come when you will be able to relish in peaceful moments. You have to pay your dues to get to this season of your life, for once you get there you will be met by jealous people that in the midst of their struggles make sure you know that not everyone has it as easy as you do! You have to ignore these obsservationa of ridicule and be able to find you inner peace by drowning out the doom seekers!

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