If your week has been as challenging as mine, you’re ready to rest and recharge. For me, the healthiest way to “power up,” take a “rest from stress” and reconnect to truth and beauty is through “otium sanctum” or “holy leisure.”
“Otium Sanctum: ‘holy leisure,’ refers to a sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves.”
For me, otium sanctum is nourishing rest (leisure). To be happy, healthy, strong, willing and courageous, we must be nourished. More than just eating a healthy meal, TRUE nourishment supplies vital energy to EVERY area of our being: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. When we’re properly nourished, we feel capable, worthy, loved and that we belong here—no matter what.
Life Requires Rest
Not simply sleeping, waking rest is a requirement of life. How do we know? We can take a look around. Everything in nature must rest or risk becoming miserable or die. For example, if we own a horse, we cannot simply feed it and ride it. It will die of exhaustion or get sick and/or be depressed. If instead, we feed the horse, ride it and give it some time to frolic in the fields and sunshine, and we will see a fresh stallion who’s ready to ride.
My Personal Experience
Until my early thirties, I did not rest. Sure, I did fun things like take trips, watch movies and get together with friends, but I did not mentally or emotionally rest—my mind was never quiet. I was also a workaholic. That’s not something I say lightly in the attempt to be complimented for my successes—it was a real problem. I defined myself by my accomplishments, so when I took time off to rest, I criticized myself for not having accomplished “anything.” It may sound silly, but to me, I did not see the difference between “rest” and “laziness.” I had not yet learned the power of rest.
After years without rest, I not only became exhausted and very ill, I also began to feel hopeless. I wondered if I would “always feel this way” because I did not know how to “fix” myself. Something needed to change, but I didn’t know what. Although I kept working too much and sleeping when I got sick, I decided to do one little thing differently. I decided to allow myself to hope by asking, “what do I need to know to be well?” while being open and willing to know the answer.
When I stumbled across the words “otium sanctum” in an article and decided to look up what that meant, I began my journey into healing. As I explored the meaning of the words, I began to notice that I held a lot of tension in my body, and allowed it to release. I instantly felt some relief and was inspired to know more. Although I didn’t have all the answers on how to heal, I already felt better. I decided that I should stick with this “otium sanctum” rest thing, and do it more often. I allowed myself “otium sanctum” breaks every day at work for five minutes, then ten minutes, then fifteen minutes—alone under the trees, in the honeysuckle breeze. I felt a vitality that came with hope. I felt appreciated and cared for—by me and by Life. I felt receptive and open to new ways of being without “doing.” I felt refreshed by this “downtime” and discovered that it was anything but lazy. It made me aware of how lucky I was, of how life goes on regardless how much I do or don’t do, and that beauty is just as constant as any suffering. And through this new perspective I gained from “rest,” I began to heal and love myself and life more. Rest was both healing and my gateway into asking more questions, listening for answers, meditating and regular “communion” with Life/God.
I leave it to you
And now, I ask you to take time for you—to nourish and recharge your being, to care for yourself. If that means silence in the sunshine, playing with your loved ones, walking in nature, reading a book, taking a bath, praying, meditating or petting your pet, I encourage you to love yourself enough to be nourished. You are worthy and worth it.
Always with love,