September 9, 2021

Restorative Niche – Chapter 2

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Choosing Restorative Niche Activities 2

As well as finding refreshment in the presence of Jesus, and in activities which you find enjoyable, here is a further thought on choosing something that restores your soul.

Choose something in which you become absorbed. 

Choose something in which you lose yourself, become so absorbed by, that you forget to look at the time. Then when you do, you say, “Wow, I didn’t realise it was so late!”

Do you know the feeling of complete relaxation that comes from lying on your back reading and being lost in a good book…? From pushing paint around on a canvas? The rhythm of knitting, creating a beautiful cake, walking in the fresh air, pruning in the shrubs, solving a jigsaw puzzle? It’s in these moments when we are fully absorbed that we really rest and replenish.

Rhythm and Repetition

It seems to me that many of our restorative activities are rhythmical and repetitive—swimming, walking, playing an instrument, dancing, even reading where our eyes track left to right, left to right continuously. These repetitions are in themselves relaxing—our body knows the movements and there is no demand to learn new things. Rhythms bring a sense of calm and tranquillity. They remind us that life goes on. I remember that soon after Don’s sister passed away, we took a holiday by the beach. I sat for long periods of time watching the waves break against the rocks, feeling the spray on my face. That cycle of ebb and flow, build and break helped to fill my heart in what loss had robbed. Rhythms remind us that life does go on.

Jesus said, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Also, many restorative activities become so familiar that actions are automatic. I even find ironing can be restorative…no one talks to me, I have done so much of it that it’s automatic and, therefore, I don’t have to think about anything in particular. 

Be Aware of a Wandering Mind

But this in itself is a danger. For instance, when walking, there’s a tendency to let our mind wander, and therefore, we can get caught up in thinking about difficulties, our emotions may become overwhelmed, and the restorative influence of the walk is negated. We need to practise being present in the moment, practise using all our senses— What can I see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Touch and feel? 

Walking, ironing and other automatic activities are also good times to meditate on scripture and to converse with God, thanking Him, being reminded of His wonderful qualities and His great love for you.

Reflection questions:

  • What activities so absorb my attention that I lose track of time?
  • How do I fare with a wandering mind? Do I need to practise being present and taking note of my surroundings?

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