Walking through the winter gauntlet that is January and February, I have been on the hunt for rest, not just sleep but rest – physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and sensory. I have found some inspiration these past weeks from a book recommended by a colleague who is also seeking rest.
Sacred Rest by Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith skillfully explains the need for rest to restore not only physical health, but emotional and spiritual health as well. The book is formatted in a way that allows the reader/patient to easily pick the chapters they want to focus upon according to what type of rest they are seeking. Dr. Dalton Smith provides her readers with supplemental materials to guide them towards a healthier, restful lifestyle. Through her website, she provides quizzes, podcasts, playlists, and prayers to help readers on their journey towards a restorative, happier life.
Indeed, the author explains the medical reasons behind the need for rest and sleep, and meticulously gives information on recent studies in each area of rest. However, the most beneficial information that Dr. Dalton Smith provides is her insight as a fellow human, woman, wife, and mother. She is walking this road with us and has good news to share. I was comforted by her approach that includes the importance of spiritual rest for the complete healing of the mind and body, and her inclusion of creative rest to bolster the spirit. My own way of seeking rest has always been through poetry, which are prayerful reflections. They hadn’t always been this way, but they are now. Poetry helps me connect with people and with God. It connects me to nature and to myself. It centers me and comforts me and provides the rest I so deeply desire.
Each night, I seek sleep. Electronic devices are put to bed. Vivaldi plays softly in the background, Chamomile tea steeps in a favorite cup. I stretch and breathe and stretch, Brush my teeth, wash my face – Seek sleep. Don comfy pajamas and toasty socks, Sip the tea, inhale its calming aroma, Snuggle into bed beneath layers of blankets, Arrange my pillow such so – Inhale – one… two… three… four… Exhale – one… two… three… four… My muscles relax, My mind seeks peace, I am drifting in the darkness, Held by invisible hands. My mind is empty, my body is still. I am at rest, asleep but not yet dreaming. My eye pop open in the darkness. Two a.m. and all is quiet, but my mind. I rearrange myself under the covers, Plump the pillow, consciously breath – Inhale – one… two… three… four… Exhale – one… two… three… four… I let the rhythm take me once again, Drifting up into the infinite sky, Rolling in the unfathomable ocean, Waves take me far out past everything known. I am held in a dark embrace Till morning.