Today’s post is a revised excerpt from my friend Michelle DeRusha‘s, new book, “True You: Let Go of Your False Self to Uncover the Person God Created”. I love Michell’s combination of personal insight as well as science, as seen in this article. You’ll find some of my favorite quotes listed in the images below. I hope you’re encouraged to explore this concept further and experience rest for your soul.

Recently my son Noah and I walked out to Artist’s Point, a rocky outcropping on the shore
of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. Though it was summertime, a cold breeze blew off
the frigid water, so we searched for a spot to sit that would be protected from the wind.
After a bit of scrambling over the rocks, we found a sheltered nook between two large
boulders. Nestled into our cozy hollow, the sun warm on my face, I pulled a book from my
bag and opened it on my lap.

“You should have brought something to read,” I said, turning to Noah. He shook his head no.
“I don’t always have to have a book,” he said. “Mostly I’m happy just to sit.”

The thing is, I always have to have a book. Or a notebook. Or my phone. Or my to-do list. I
need something to do, even if only to fill five minutes. I feel a pressing almost desperate
need to be productive, to “make good use of my time.” I simply can’t bear not being busy, or
at the very least, occupied.

Turns out, there’s a scientific explanation for my compulsive busyness.

Michelle DeRusha True You False Self

Neuroscientist Caroline Leaf explains that the brain is composed of networks that work
together. “Busyness mode” takes place in what’s called the task positive network (TPN) –
the conscious part of our brain that supports the active thinking required to make
decisions.

This contrasts with the default mode network, or DMN — the nonconscious part of the brain
where thinking, building, and sorting thoughts takes place, as well as what Leaf calls
“intrinsic activity” or “directed rest” – activities like contemplation, daydreaming,
introspection, and sleeping. Dr. Leaf describes the activation of the DMN as a “Sabbath in
the brain.”

What happens, though, is that when we don’t slow down and enter this rest state, we
disrupt the natural functioning of the brain. If left unchecked, the relentless activation of
the TPN can result in inward feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and discontent.

In other words, our mind needs time and space to catch up with what our soul already
knows.

our minds need time and space to catch up to what our soul already knows

Decision-making and action are obviously necessary for our survival and livelihood, but not
all the time. If we fail to activate the DMN on a regular basis and instead constantly push
the TPN part of our brain to keep working, busyness can become our default mode – which
is why we can sometimes feel like we’re on autopilot when we are busy, and also why we
can feel uncomfortable or even anxious or agitated when we’re supposed to be resting or
relaxing. If we’ve trained it to be busy at all times, our brain literally forgets how to rest.

This is exactly why I was aghast at my son’s lack of reading material as we sat on the shore
of Lake Superior that chilly summer afternoon. There I was, in one of the most scenic spots
in all of America, the lake water lapping at my feet, sea gulls circling the sky, the jagged
edge of the Sawtooth range in the distance, and I was bent on finishing a chapter in the
book I was reading and moving on to the next.

Busy was what my brain was used to, so busy I was going to be, regardless of my
surroundings.

I didn’t give myself the opportunity to enter into directed rest that day, but even if I’d tried,
I likely would have struggled to settle into a contemplative state simply because my brain
was out of practice. I hadn’t offered my brain a Sabbath in years.

My son Noah, on the other hand, was content to sit quietly, his face turned toward the vast
expanse of water that stretched as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t help but notice he
seemed happy to do nothing. Unlike me, my son was simply content to be.

Decision-making and action are obviously necessary for our survival and livelihood, but not all the time. via @MichelleDeRushaClick to Tweet Our mind needs time and space to catch up with what our soul already knows. via @MichelleDeRushaClick to Tweet If we’ve trained it to be busy at all times, our brain literally forgets how to rest. via @MichelleDeRushaClick to Tweet I likely would have struggled to settle into a contemplative state simply because my brain was out of practice. I hadn’t offered my brain a Sabbath in years. via @MichelleDeRushaClick to Tweet
Michelle DeRushaA Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of chickens … and God. She’s the wife ofan English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun and mom to two teenage boys and the laziest Corgi-beagle in the world. Michelle’s newest book, True You, releasing January 1, guides readers on a journey toward letting go in order to uncover their true God-created selves.

This post is adapted from True You: Letting Go of Your False Self to Uncover the Person God
Created, by Michelle DeRusha, from Baker Books.

 

More on Busyness and Rest:

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