In this episode of the Soul Work podcast, Ify Alexis Lee discusses the importance of rest in our lives. As a high-capacity individual, she has always been able to juggle multiple tasks, but she has learned the value of taking time to rest and recharge. When we neglect rest, we can lose sight of what truly matters and our passions can become chores. Ify highlights the biblical principle of the Sabbath and how it is relevant in our modern, busy lives. It's crucial to honour our circadian cycles and prioritize rest amidst the constant availability of artificial light. Tune in to learn more about the transformative power of rest in finding balance and wholeness.
[00:00:38] Understanding the importance of rest.
[00:06:12] God's provision and work.
[00:10:01] Cultivating rest and hobbies.
[00:12:22] Contemplative prayer.
[00:16:11] Living a paced life.
[00:20:12] Cultivating the parasympathetic nervous system response.
Hi everyone, welcome back to the Soulwork podcast with myself, Ify Alexis Lee. This podcast is all about doing the inner work, the growth work, the work of defining, refining, healing and wholeness. Today I wanted to talk to you about something that has been heavy in my life, right? I've always kind of considered myself to be a high capacity individual, someone who can balance multiple plates at once and someone who has, I'm gonna say a lot of capacity to do certain things. In this season of life, however, one of the foundational things that God has been instilling and installing in me has been understanding the importance of rest. When we find ourselves burning the candle at both ends, right, we are giving all the activities the best of us. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what matters most to us. Sometimes we find the things that we enjoy doing the most become a chore. We can find that the people that are nearest and dear to us don't actually get the best of us anymore. The Bible speaks significantly about the principle of sabbath right and sabbath was given as a law to the jews something for them to follow that you work for six days and on the seventh day you rest and if you think about it back then they worked with natural light and with candlelight thus when jesus says that there comes a time when no man can work The idea was when the sun went down, you go down. Work ceases for the night. Work ceases for the day. Over here, however, shout out to Thomas Edison. We have the light bulb, right? And so it can become easy to miss out on our circadian cycles, right, the cycles of the sun, and really lean into working whenever. And that's positive, that's a good thing, it's not purely a negative thing, but if we are not careful we can find ourselves overworking and the result of that is burnout, the result of that is exhaustion. And that can have detrimental effects on us in terms of our emotional and our mental health. but also a sleep debt which can show up in our physical health as well. We are created in the image of God, we are created in the image of a God who takes time out to rest. He created the world for six days, on the seventh day he himself decided to rest. And yet for some of us, rest is something that is so obscure. I think some of us think that we are resting because we are sleeping, but not all sleep is restful, unfortunately. And it's important to find a way to rest that doesn't just involve sleep. So I asked a couple of my friends, and I'm going to share with you just some of the things that can take us out of a place of rest. Now, for me, one of the key things that takes me out of a place of rest is feeling as though I need to perform and really linking my identity to the outcomes of my actions. Being a high capacity individual, like I said, the idea of getting the grade I remember there were times that I would wake up 3am 4am to start studying and odd times where I'd be in the library doing all-nighters studying um for the result that I wanted at the end of the day right and especially when the adrenaline starts pumping and we're going to talk about adrenaline a lot because some of us are adrenaline junkies And that is one of the reasons why we find it very hard to rest because we are used to the strength and the power that we get from adrenaline when we leave things to the last minute, but we don't get into it. But for me, I found that there was an unworthiness, right? And the unworthiness would show up in my desire to perform. If I was able to do all those events back to back, or if I was able to get a certain grade, then okay, cool, then I will rest, then I am deserving of rest. Reworking and rewiring that for me now looks like acknowledging the fact that I can rest because I'm tired, not purely because I have achieved a certain result. That rest doesn't have to be a reward, rest is a necessity. When I asked some of my friends, one of the things that came up is uncertainty. Sometimes our uncertainty takes us out of a place of rest. We feel as though we need to hustle, we need to be the person that needs to get everything done because if we don't, we don't know what the outcome is going to be. Sometimes the thing that takes us out of rest is thinking that God has forgotten about you and thus you have to be the person to make everything happen for yourself. Now of course when I speak about rest I'm not speaking purely about the ceasing of physical, mental, emotional activity. Although that's a part of rest, that's not the only thing about rest. I think as Christians, we have been given to an eternal Sabbath, right? A Sabbath isn't just the day, although the weekly principle does matter, taking a day out to purely rest, right? But we have an eternal rest in the form of Jesus Christ. And I feel like I see this beautifully in Matthew chapter six. So from verse 25, it says, Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky. They don't sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more worthy than they? Can any of you add one moment to your lifespan by worrying? And why do you worry about your clothes? Observe the wild flowers of the fields, they do not labour nor spin thread, yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was adorned like one of these. If that's how God clothes the grass of the fields, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won't he do much more for you, O you of little faith? so do not worry about what will we eat and what will we drink what will we wear for the gentiles eagerly seek these things but your heavenly father knows that you need them and the bible continues to say seek first the kingdom of god and his righteousness and everything will be added on to you but i think about that scripture particularly considered the birds of the air it says that our heavenly father feeds the birds of the air but if we observe the birds of the air right we know that they don't just have food, like just out for them. And it reminds me of a time when I was in Ireland, we were in Dublin, I had a speaking event in Ireland and I saw a bird, I kid you not, swoop down from the sky and grab a piece of food that this person was holding. I just was so shocked. I mean, new fear unlocked, right? The Bible says, consider the birds of the air and how God feeds them. The fact that God feeds them does not negate the responsibility that they have to the work, right? The fact that God feeds them and provides for us does not negate the importance of going into work, all right, the importance of enterprise. the importance of actually doing the work. But it's doing the work from a place of knowing that it is God that ultimately provides for us. And provision might not look like it did in the wilderness for the Israelites. Provision for them was the manna from heaven. it came to them. But sometimes provision from God looks like being in the promised land and having to hunt for your food, having to cook it yourself, right? Both of those represent the provision of God. And I think so many times one of the things that takes us out of the place of rest is thinking that if I have to do it myself, God is not in it. But God can be in it even while you are hustling, even while you're doing the work, even while you are giving it your all. But we can be taken out of a place of rest when we're unable to identify that it is God that is giving us the strength, that it's in him, that we live, we move, we have our very being. So I say this because whilst rest is a lifestyle, it's also something that we have to make a concerted effort to experience. Rest for me is the acknowledgement of my limitations. It is me honouring the limitations that God has placed on this earthen vessel. And in times where rest was the biggest struggle for me, it was a struggle for me because I did not honour the limitations of my body. I didn't honour the fact that, hey Ify, you're having palpitations because you need to take it slowly or iffy, you're feeling this extreme fatigue because you need to rest. And the first sign for me, one of the first signs that I am not resting sufficiently, I get a cold, right? My immune system gets a bit compromised. Rest is about acknowledging our limitations. And I think that that's why that's important, because when we acknowledge our limitations, we can acknowledge the fact that God has no limitations, the fact that God is beyond all limitations, the fact that we can trust that He can fulfill the rest. Rest is an act of defiance towards the flesh that thinks that it can do without God. Rest is an act of defiance towards the flesh, right? The fleshly mindset that thinks, I don't need God. So when we rest, we reconnect with our limitations, we reconnect with our body, and we're able to reconnect with the provision of God in a beautiful way. So I wanted to share with you guys what cultivating rest can look like for you if you struggle in this area, like I do. I think cultivating rest can look like really investing in hobbies and hobbies that aren't Profitable. I think in our generation, or whoever's watching this, sometimes we consider profitability above just something that we do just because we love it, right? So if you are good at a sport, for example, sometimes the first thing that we go to is how can I make this something that will bring me in an income versus how can I just enjoy the fact that I really like this thing? and that's okay because I realized that some hobbies can become quite profitable but when we attach work to rest sometimes it diminishes the pure enjoyment that we are supposed to derive from it. So cultivating hobbies that don't lead to profitability and this is big for me because one of my biggest hobbies was reading but I noticed that actually a lot of the things that I read are really sharpening my tool if that's public speaking, preaching, it's self-help, it's therapeutic. And I realized that actually this is no longer a hobby. This is actually CPD. This is continued professional development. It's not so much a hobby. So I had to think about other ways to do that. And sometimes that's reading a novel. Sometimes that looks like just watching a documentary that is gonna add to my wisdom, but isn't necessarily going to become something profitable in that kind of way. So that's something to think about. Another thing I would say is Doing nothing. Sometimes our schedules look so full. It's one thing after the other thing after the other thing, but sometimes it's scheduling time just to do nothing. And sometimes it's counter-cultural, because it's like, if someone asks you, are you free on Saturday? Well, technically you are free, but you're not. And so it's being able to block in time to say, hey, during this time to this time, and if you're, I'm just going to do nothing. And if you're a mum or a dad, like myself, I'm a mum, it can be hard to do that, but it's liaising with your spouse or with the help that you have around you to create that time create those avenues to just chill. And I think a way in which I like to do this more and more is something called contemplative prayer. And contemplative prayer is just really acknowledging that prayer isn't a monologue, it's not a soliloquy, it's not time spent just talking. Prayer is a dialogue. And for me, it looks like when I'm carving out time to pray, to really just sit in that space, to share with God, right? To ask, to praise Him, to petition, to intercede, but also just sitting to receive from God. just sitting to hear what he has to say, the impressions that he places on your heart and praying those through as well. So contemplative prayer, sometimes it looks like time wasted. I heard someone say it's like wasting time with God. It's like wasting it because it feels like this is a lot of time, but it's it's healthy, it's recalibrating us and it reminds me of even just the principle of like skin to skin with a baby, you place your baby on your chest and that time spent with your child, it's recalibrating them, it's recalibrating their temperature, it's bringing them into a place of rest before the Lord and that actually reminds me of a scripture, I think it's Psalm 133. It's Psalm 131, it says, Lord my heart is not proud, my eyes are not too haughty, I do not get involved with things too great or too wondrous for me. Instead I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, my soul is like a weaned child. Now I think I'm going to do an episode really exploring a childlike spirit and a quieted soul but from this scripture like a child with its mother is my soul within me and I feel like that's sometimes what that place of like contemplative prayer looks like but also just wasting time with God, sitting with him, learning of him and I understand that that analogy might feel offensive for some people, but just think about it. If you're wasting time with your friend, you're just enjoying their company. You're just being with them. And so it's doing some of that that can really bring our souls into a place of rest. I think also acknowledging our limitations and cultivating rest can look like coming off of the adrenal high. And I mentioned this about adrenaline, right? Adrenaline kicks in when we oftentimes in a work environment, when we're working towards like a tight deadline or we need that extra kick. And it kicks our body into something called the fight or flight mode, right? The sympathetic part of our nervous system kicks in. And so we typically are far more productive. We work really hard. We, all of these things, right? But if you are used to that kind of like fast paced work, work, work, then very likely you are used to riding the waves of an adrenaline high. and that can be really really hard to come off of and kind of like someone that's experiencing withdrawal symptoms from any kind of substance so it's like with adrenaline and so when you are crashing sometimes it's what is my worth outside of this work, what is my worth like outside of this job, I need to do the next thing, I need to do the next thing, I need to do the next thing, but really cultivating rest is allowing yourself to come off the adrenaline high and that looks like living a paced life. Now I'm aware some of us have different kinds of jobs that require different kinds of things and our lifestyles look so different But where possible pacing yourself and I have a bad habit of sometimes leaving things to the last minute. And I used to say, especially at university that I just work well under pressure, but actually we're all designed to work well under pressure because as I mentioned, adrenaline gives us that extra kick right but just because you work well under pressure doesn't mean that you should continue to work under pressure because that actually has some adverse effects for your body when you are consistently in a place of survival because that is what the adrenaline response is for that's what the sympathetic nervous system response is for it's for survival So living a paced life where possible, working towards deadlines that are reasonable, taking time out, creating a margin where you switch your phone off at a certain time, actually using your weekends to be weekends, right? Cultivating rest is so important. I think another part of rest is watching the TV shows or watching the movies or whatever it is, but without over analyzing them and this is for the analysts out there like myself, I'd be therapizing everything like I've been this if if I could I would like pause the cinema movie and take some notes but that's not something that I aspire to right because I realized that even in the things that are supposed to be like entertainment I'm kind of making them edutainment I'm adding an education layer to it, which isn't always a negative thing, but for some of us whose minds are consistently going like this, it's important to slow down, pull back a little bit and just receive what's in front of you without overanalyzing it. Rest also looks like creating space to just delight in the Lord. And that takes me back to what I mentioned about contemplative prayer, space to just really be thankful for what he's done for you and who he is in his essence, being a good God, making space to really set your mind on things that are above and not things that are here on this earth, right? Storing up your treasures as it were in heavenly places, that is a key aspect of rest. And I think as well, like this is one that I guess is a little bit more out there, but allowing yourself to be loved, allowing yourself to receive love and primarily from God, because I think his love has a way of transforming us. His love has a way of bringing us into alignment, even when we are going in the wrong direction. but also from others, from yourself as well, but also from others, allowing yourself to become attuned to people's bids of love towards you, right? Whether it's that encouraging text from a friend, or it's a act of love, a physical touch from a partner, you know, whatever it is, really attuning yourself into the ways in which people are loving you is a good way to bring yourself to rest. So I mentioned living from a place of rest, but also creating a margin. to actually do the work of rest and I titled this you are worthy of rest because for some of us we don't think that these things that I'm mentioning we are worthy of them sometimes it's I haven't done enough or I'm undeserving or whatever it is but actually Rest is a principle and the best work comes from a place of rest. Lastly, I wanna speak about the parasympathetic nervous system. So I mentioned the sympathetic nervous system, which is about fight and flight and it gets our blood pumping. We tend to be able to do certain things that we couldn't necessarily do without that adrenaline high, right? But when we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, it's often called the rest and digest state. We are telling our body that we are in a place of rest. It's okay. You don't have to fight. You don't have to flight. You can chill. You can rest and digest. And sometimes that is also quite synonymous with a place of safety. So if you think about survival mode, the opposite of survival mode is safety, right? You are safe. You are no longer fighting for your life. You are no longer in a hurry. You can rest. And certain things that we can do even bodily, which is why I mentioned about honouring our body and reconnecting with our body, but some of the ways in which we can cultivate our parasympathetic nervous system response, rest and digest, is by doing certain things like humming. When we hum, we stimulate our vagus nerve, which is at the back of our throat. and that is connected to our parasympathetic nervous system. Humming or singing the vibrations cause a sense of peace and an ease across our body and it brings down our heartbeat. it takes us into a place of rest. And I think this is why worship is a lifestyle, right? Because taking that time out to really sing in worship has a way of regulating our nervous system. Another way we can do that, so that's humming, right? Another way to do that is just purely by grounding and practices of mindfulness. So it's paying unjudgmental attention to what's going on around us. Reconnecting with ourselves. Sometimes it looks like running your hand over, under a tap, right? And just feeling the sensations that come with that. You're becoming attuned to your body. Bringing our attention here as opposed to over there. Mindfulness is important. Grounding is important. These are just some of the ways we can cultivate rest in our everyday life. So as I bring this episode to an end, some of the questions that I have for you are, number one, Where and when do you feel the most at rest? Where and when do you feel the most at rest? Who helps you to rest? With whom do you feel the most at rest, right? What pulls you out of the place of rest? What are some of the things that pull you out of the place of rest? and what keeps you working past your limits? What keeps you working past your limits? What is that thing, that person, what is that feeling that you don't wanna feel that keeps you, pushes you to work beyond your limits? Whatever that is, take some notes today and I hope today's episode will help you in cultivating deeper rest for yourself because you are worthy of it. a few book suggestions for you because I love a good read. The first would be The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. If you have not read that book, definitely read it. It's one of those books that will really open your eyes to this hurried life that we're living and why it's not beneficial. And my second recommendation is called Rhythms of Renewal by Rebecca Lyons. Excellent book and one of the principles she talks about is rest and how to Sabbath and how to take it easy and live the rich and full life that God calls for us to live in the present day. Thank you so much for watching, listening, yeah, don't hesitate to comment, like, rate, do all the things and I'll see you in the next episode. Take care, bye.