The Modern Practice of Shabbat
To have a quiet mind is to possess one's mind wholly; to have a calm spirit is to possess one's self.
Hamilton Wright Mabie
Stress is a hot topic these days. It seems that everyone is overscheduled and overworked. Depression in children and teens is on the rise. We are weary, worn-out, and stressed out!
Everywhere you look, there are articles and news stories on how stress is doing us in. Ongoing stress has impact on our physical body and our mental well-being. If you have recently had an episode of "I can't think straight," then stress is likely the culprit.
And if all of this is not enough, stress impacts how you handle your emotions which will eventually effect your relationships. You can begin alienating people with your outbursts of impatience, irritation, and anxiousness.
We are told that stress can literally make us sick. Subjecting ourselves to chronic stress makes us susceptible to illness and makes it more difficult for us to recover when we do become ill.
Simply put: chronic stress reduces your quality of life.
1. pressure or tension exerted on a material object.
2. a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding
Seven years ago, I became ill with an auto-immune disease. At the time, I was not an all out health junkie. I was what you would call health "conscious" - I had a desire to avoid illness and disease. My diagnosis took me by surprise. Up until I became sick, I was not sick. I was fairly healthy and had just enough energy to meet my demanding schedule.
My first question to the doctor was "Why? What causes this?" He gave me an answer that shocked me for a third time in my life (it's a long story) - "We don't know."
Stop the press! In this modern day of MRI's and PET scans, blood tests and X-rays, you can't tell me WHY I am sick!? "We don't know" was his definitive answer (NOTE: he was a specialist in this area and had seen many patients with my condition).
You could have blown me over with a feather. I was confused and scared and his description of "worst-case scenario" was not helping me at all!
This started me on a journey to really understanding the wonder of my physical body and how to care for it properly. Many of the strategies that I share with you in this blog are "aha" moments I have had on the road to recovery.
One of the things that they have uncovered in their research of these curious and abnormal physiological responses is that stress may likely be a trigger and can also aggravate an existing condition.
Today, I want to reveal a practice that helped me recover and take control of my life. It is the practice of Shabbat.
the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians
a time of rest
Although the practice of Sabbath has it roots in religious practice, it is not religious. It is simply a "time of rest." As such, it can be practiced by anyone, anywhere with great benefit.
The cure for our stressed out life is a time of rest. Rest is NOT the same as relaxation. Rest is properly defined by a "freedom from activity or labor" or "inactivity." It implies that we are pulling away and doing NOTHING. We are not watching a movie or TV. We are not playing a video game. We are not out having fun with friends. These are all common ways that we "relax."
Practicing Sabbath means putting time on your schedule to do absolutely nothing!
We are human BEINGS who have become human DOINGS. And the stress of constantly DOING is drowning us!
Today, I want you to explore the practice of a regular Sabbath - a day of rest. Try to figure out how you can establish a rhythm to how you do it. Here are some small ways that you can begin now incorporating this practice into your routine:
Go to bed a regular time. Don't make "staying up late" a regular practice.
Get 6 to 8 hours of rest each night. If you don't wake up feeling rested, you did NOT rest!
Create a bed-time ritual. Do the same things each night prior to bedtime.
Turn off the electronics. Try to pull away from your phone or tablet at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Schedule a "do nothing" day. Put a date on your calendar where you purpose to do absolutely nothing.
Take the "unimportant" off of your to-do list. Make sure everything on your to do list is worth doing.
Learn about meditation. Start exploring the practice of meditation and its benefits.
Listen to soothing sounds. Make a regular practice of closing your eyes and listening to soothing sounds. Find an app on your phone or download some meditation music.
Check out this pdf file of 100 creative ways to reduce your stress.
And check out these important reasons why you need to listen to my advice.
Take care of yourself, Beloved. You are worth it.
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