We all need time to just take a deep breath, relax and enjoy life, reflect, and re-energize. Finding this place of renewal and re-creation, remembering the non-work parts of who we are, connecting more deeply to people we love and to the beauty of the world actually takes just as much intention, creativity, and practice as working productively. Every Spring, the National Day of Unplugging emphasizes this.
In our hectic lives, when for the first time in human history we can be plugged in 24/7, it’s not surprising that the practice of? “Being” or “Sabbathing” (taking a day of rest) is being recovered.
Here are 10 things I do once a week to create “Sabbath” consciousness. Try doing them within a 24-hour period, as they build upon each other to create new space. But heed the following proviso: Like developing any expertise, whether playing guitar, shooting baskets, painting or gardening, the art of “Being” cannot be mastered in one sitting (this is why it’s called a practice) and requires us to do some things that may feel strange at first.
So don’t worry if you don’t have an immediate “aha” experience of rejuvenation.? It’s an investment, but the return on the investment is a sense of peace and a profound, textured vision of success. As wisdom tradition teaches, we need to give a practice some time (I suggest 40 days) before deciding whether it’s working.
- Leave work earlier than usual. There’s always one more call, one more email. Consciously stopping work early once a week (by at least a half hour) affirms that you do not live to work – rather, work is just one expression of your life.
- Worry less about work. Practice gently letting go of concerns about work that inevitably pop into mind. Eventually, these thoughts soften and recede. To help clear your mind, taking a more scenic route home can help.
- Set aside your smartphone and turn off your computer, at least as they relate to work. See how your consciousness shifts, and how it doesn’t. You may feel uneasy or almost destabilized, but you’re being invited to discern new ways to take control of your life.
- Eat a special meal with family or friends, preferably by candlelight. Reconnecting to those you love helps you flourish. Savoring your food (a new recipe once a week adds adventure) deepens your connection to the material world. And candlelight invites you to bring forth more light from within and see beyond the surface.
- Make love. Take pleasure in the sensual part of life. Set aside a time to engage in activity that creates greater intimacy with the person you love.
- Bless a child in your life. Remember what it was like to feel genuinely blessed by an adult in your life. In a world in which children are so vulnerable, an adult’s blessing is transformative and life-affirming. My daughters are in their twenties, and I still bless them once a week.
- Experience the beauty of nature.? Whether by foot, car or bike, experiencing the awe and wonder of the natural world creates appreciation, humility and the enlivening and ethical sense that you’re an interconnected part of an infinite cosmos.
- Engage in a contemplative or reflective practice. This can mean reading a wisdom text, listening to music that touches your soul, looking at art that engages your heart or engaging in more traditional prayer or meditation. To make the most of this experience, try a news fast.
- Laugh. Laughter is a signal of transcendence. It reminds you that whatever’s happening in your life, “this too shall pass.” It’s healthy not to take certain things in your life too seriously.
- Find five things to be grateful for over the past week. Consciousness is like tofu: Its taste depends on what it marinades in. When we marinate our consciousness in gratitude, we become more grateful people.
Bonus practice: Take a nap. Sleep restores the body, refreshes the spirit and frees our dreams.
Do not be afraid to be playful and to customize your practice. And please let TWD community know how things are going.
Rabbi Irwin Kula is a 7th generation rabbi and a disruptive spiritual innovator. A rogue thinker, author of the award-winning book, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, and President-Emeritus of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, he works at the intersection of religion, innovation, and human flourishing. A popular commentator in both new and traditional media, he is co-founder with Craig Hatkoff and the late Professor Clay Christensen of The Disruptor Foundation whose mission is to advance disruptive innovation theory and its application in societal critical domains. He serves as a consultant to a wide range of foundations, organizations, think tanks, and businesses and is on the leadership team of Coburn Ventures, where he offers uncommon inputs on cultural and societal change to institutional investors across sectors and companies worldwide.