Finding Rest in a World that Just Wants You to Keep Going
Step away and create an “oasis time” for restoration, communion, and grace.
Right now, you probably have bells dinging, to-do lists staring you down, and notifications popping up on every electronic device you own. In the ever-increasing speed of our lives, we praise efficiency and getting things done. Keeping up the pace, however, is likely affecting your sleep, your relationships, and your health.
In An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest can Save your Life, author Marilyn Paul presents a compelling case for incorporating intentional downtime every week. For Paul, a slow return to her family’s heritage of Judaism and the tradition of the Sabbath created a life changing shift in her routine. After being diagnosed with an immune deficiency disease, she realized she could not sustain the frantic pace of her life. In her book, she invites readers of all faiths and belief systems to create “oasis time” as a way of stepping out of the rapid current of technology and every-day life into the still, deep, and renewing waters of restoration, communion, and grace.
Paul lays out a plan for creating oasis time that is based on spiritual traditions of the West, and presents five “gateways” to design your own personal experience:
Protect and prepare. To create a deeply restorative oasis, you have to guard your time and be intentional in what you choose to include. “Consider what social time, activities, food, and spiritual connection” will be part of your oasis.
Begin and end. There will always be ‘one more thing to do’ before starting your oasis time. Commit to a beginning and an end—and stick to it. Paul encourages readers to “start your oasis time with a special action, ritual, or blessing. Rituals help make the transition between the end of work and the start of renewal.” Choose something that is meaningful and consistent. Seal the end of your time with something that marks a clear ending.
Disconnect to connect. There has been a lot of talk about taking technology time-outs. Paul admits this may feel difficult, in part due to the addictive nature of technology, especially social platforms. She suggests, “Rather than thinking of unplugging as disconnecting from the world, think of it as reconnecting with what’s most important in your life. Oasis time helps each of us devote ourselves fully to the people, activities, and pursuits that are right in front of us.” Connection is also found through contemplating a higher power, and the deeper meaning of our lives.
Slow down to savor. Slowing down from not only the physical pace, but also the mental pace of our lives is crucial, as evidenced by the attention meditation and mindfulness are receiving in all realms. “Slowing down and experiencing open time and space refresh us,” Paul reminds, “giving us renewed energy and a clearer head. We enjoy ourselves more because we aren’t so frantic. We can reflect on our experience and correct our course as needed.”
Let go of achieving to rest, reflect, and play. “To take an oasis means stopping,” Paul explains, “It means committing to setting down your to-do lists, both your actual to-do lists and the ones that pulse in your veins.” We set ourselves up for burn-out when all we do is constantly strive toward achievement. Though it may feel counterintuitive at first, Paul insists that releasing this relentless drive will actually allow more energy to flow when we return to our tasks with clarity and focus.
Paul further explores why we need oasis time, what keeps us from allowing it into our lives, and relates a multitude of strategies and stories of people she’s worked with in successfully carving this time out in a deeply personal way. Though the idea initiated from a religious tradition, she is adamant in her commitment that everyone has to create an oasis time that means something—to them. You may find renewal in strolling through the forest, relaxing by stream, or by gathering with dear friends to share a meal.
The invitation to create an oasis time every week can feel daunting, but, as Paul writes, “We cannot protect ourselves from hardship, but we can return to our island of tranquility and connection once a week, and in so doing become resourceful enough to rise to our challenges and stand up with vigor and vitality to the at times overwhelming forces of life. Week by week, you’ll turn to your oasis time with relief.”
When I intentionally create space to do the things that fill me up rather than deplete me, I know that I show up in all parts of my life more whole, more patient, more full. I feel relief simply contemplating this idea of oasis time. Now I have tools to plan it.
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“Whenever you’re in doubt: Pause. Take a moment. Look at your options. Check your intentions. And Then? And then take the high road.” ~ Maria Shriver