How You can Rest with 7 Types of Rest

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Collaboration Post with Youmin Yap from Xiu Nature Connections
Updated on 4 May 2024

Did you know that there are 7 types of rest?

In our upcoming retreat called “Sacred Rest with Nature – a soulful retreat”  facilitated by Youmin Yap and me from November 29 to December 4, 2024, our retreat program is inspired by the 7 types of rest combining with the four elements in nature.

The 7 types of rest are first described in Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book called “Sacred Rest”, and they are: physical, mental, emotional, social, sensory, creative, and spiritual.

In today’s blog, Youmin explains the 7 types of rest and her take on them. And for each type of rest, I offer you a simple rest challenge for you to experience it in your daily life.

1. Physical Rest

This is the most common type of rest, and most easily understood. It is less about working out, and more about working in. It is about reprieve, perhaps even laying down and being in stillness.

Activities that allow the physical body to relax and restore can include restful sleep, gentle movements that stretch and relax our muscles, and restorative exercises that activate the parasympathetic nervous system in our bodies.

Your Rest Challenge:

Some may know that it’s not quite easy to get restful sleep at night. One reason for that may be because we’ve been using our devices right before we sleep and the blue light emitted from our devices will affect the quality of our sleep.

Give yourself a challenge just for 1 night and put away your device 60 minutes before your bed time. So what can you do then? You can read a book, do some journaling, put on a face mask, or connect with a friend or family member in real life. Anything that keeps you away from the screen, and notice how your sleep goes that night.

2. Mental Rest

If physical rest is quietening the body, mental rest is quietening the mind. Mental rest allows the constant cerebral background noise to slow down, soften and still.

Activities that support mental rest can include brain dump journaling, soaking in soft fascination in nature, yoga nidra, meditation etc.

Your Rest Challenge:

Meditation is the best way for some mental rest and reset. You can choose a free guided meditation here from our playlist on Youtube here.

No time for meditation? Even just playing some relaxing music in the background, closing your eyes for a moment, and taking a few deep breaths in and out can help.

3. Emotional Rest

Wearing our cloaks of armor and masks around in society can be very exhausting. Given a space to acknowledge, accept and feel our emotions authentically can be very restful. Emotions when allowed to be worn on our sleeves, rather than buried deep in our bodies, can be liberating.

Activities that support emotional rest include gaining more self-awareness around your boundaries and feelings, being in a safe (and brave) space to speak your truth, doing ceremonies, and certain breathing and somatic techniques that can balance emotions.

Your Rest Challenge:

Get a pen and some paper or a journal, and start writing anything down for 5 minutes. If you want a journaling prompt, start with writing down how you are feeling. Not the usual answer of what you will give when someone asks how you are, but how you are truly feeling. Let your emotions speak to you through your pen and writing. Leave all your judgment out and just let yourself write without editing anything. And the great thing afterwards – is that you don’t even need to read what you’ve written.

4. Social Rest

There are 2 views for social rest. The first is the deep sense of ease that comes with being in a community or group to which you truly feel belonged. A space where you are able to nurture authentic relationships, find solace in one another, and you can be your true self. These kinds of social connections revive and uplift you, and do not leave you depleted.

Another type of social rest is to take a break from all social events and interactions – literally a time-out from all and everything. A time where you can be comfortable to be by yourself, in solitude.

Your Rest Challenge:

Check in with how you are feeling today and be very honest with what nourishes you now. Do you crave connection with your friends, family and community, or do you prefer some alone time for yourself? Are you feeling introspective and just want to lay low, or do you feel an adventure is calling out to you?

Trust what your heart is calling you to do to nourish yourself and go schedule that social rest time in your calendar, preferably in the next 24 hours.

5. Sensory Rest

Instead of sensory overload, we will encourage sensory unload instead. Sensory rest will allow our overdriven senses to soften and rest. Instead of harsh and constant stimuli, activities that support sensory rest will offer gentler stimuli and sometimes even remove stimuli totally.

Activities can include forest bathing in nature where nature commands attention from the senses but in soft ways, float therapy in a sensory-deprived chamber, etc.

Your Rest Challenge:

Going out for a walk in nature in your local area can help you unload whatever you are carrying, mentally, emotionally and energetically. Keep your phone and devices in your bag/pocket for now (instead of snapping tons of photos), or if you really need to snap a photo, do that at the beginning so you can keep your phone away for the rest of the time.

Give yourself permission to tune off from everything else in your life and just to soak in the present moment. Engage all your senses and notice what’s present around you. Bonus if you can join a forest bathing session!

6. Creative Rest

Creative rest is for everyone, not just for the creatives. Besides soaking and immersing in all the beauty and light that surround us, creative rest is also about creating. It is about expressing and creating to our hearts’ content – whether this is movement, origami, writing, painting, sewing, crafts, cooking, floristry, making music – play, wonder and creativity can show up in all these avenues and more.

Your Rest Challenge:

In “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, she wrote about going on a date with your inner artist and let that be a 2-hour weekly date. It is not easy to find a solid 2-hour free time in our day that is not related to working or being productive, but remember, rest is also productive.

If 2 hours is too overwhelming, just start with a 30-minute date with your inner artist. Let your body and creative mind guide you and see what you feel like doing. Maybe it’s bringing yourself out to visit a café and to listen to some music. Maybe it’s just scribbling something on your sketchbook or journal. Maybe it’s singing your heart out in a kirtan session. Whichever it is, follow your inner artist, he/she knows the way.

7. Spiritual Rest

Encountering spiritual rest is to encounter a revival of your spirit. It is to bask in magnificence that are often times harder to put into words, a bit harder to understand intellectually and rationally.

Perhaps, it happens when you commune or spend time with the Universe, God, Almighty, Grace, Light, Source, One, Mother, Father, Giver, Nature … and it provides you with an indescribable sense of where you are in the grander scheme of things.

Your Rest Challenge:

Everyone has a unique way to communicate with the Divine, Universe, God, Goddess, Nature, whichever term that you resonate with. There is no right or wrong way. If you can find a quiet place to just sit down for a moment, and take a few breathes in and out. And just ask your heart, how you can rest spiritually today. Pay attention and listen to your inner voice.

Perhaps it’s visiting a sacred place or nature. Perhaps it’s picking up an oracle card. Perhaps it’s through prayer, or listening to someone talking about spirituality. Allow a moment in your day just to remember that you are not alone here and that you are indeed a part of something that is greater than yourself.

  Want to Rest?
Experience the 7 types of rest in our Sacred Rest with Nature Retreat  from November 29 to December 4, 2024

A perfect retreat for anyone who wants to wrap up the current year with gentle rest

and  to enter the new year with authentic clarity and renewed energy

Sacred Rest with Nature is a deliciously restful retreat. It is a space to slow down from the doing, and tune into your inner rhythm. It is a time to embrace rest as a sacred practice.

Through nurturing your body, mind, and soul with Nature, you can cut through all the noise and start to listen to your inner voice – the voice that matters the most.

This 6-days-5-nights retreat is designed to provide wellness experiences to guide you to be in rest, such as forest bathing, yoga nidra, cacao ceremony, and shamanic journey. The retreat program is also sensitively curated to offer spaciousness – downtime to reflect and integrate, to enjoy the facilities at Museflower Retreat & Spa, or to simply to be.

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