Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sabbath questions and busy minds



Sabbath is so counter-cultural that we don't even know where to begin.  
It seems by the time we grow out of toddler naps, we've aged out of the right to rest (until retirement, at least). For most of our lives we are trained to resist rest, to label stopping as "lazy," and to treat rest as a reward that is earned after work is completed, instead of a necessary rhythm, the foundation from which life flows.
When given a chance to practice sabbath, even with the desire to do so, we're often at a loss.

I received this question a couple weeks ago from a friend, and thought it might be helpful for others.

Hi Kara, Do you have suggestions for how to help people embrace sabbath? 
Like how to quiet your mind to make way for creativity? 
Will be interested in your thoughts or reading recommendations. 
Love, Sandy

Hi Sandy,
I love Wayne Muller's book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives. That's kind of what got me started in all of it seven years ago. I also love Walter Brueggemann's book, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No the the Culture of Now.
It's hard to quiet your mind. 
But it all begins in grace and abundance, so I think the way to start is to have gentleness with yourself, compassion and curiosity. Look at that, my racing mind!. (My friend Jamie taught me that sometimes self-compassion can start as simply as placing your hand on your cheek and saying to yourself, "Oh, honey...") and feel the self-empathy well up.  
The idea that we must have a quiet mind to do sabbath right is still trapped in the idea of our worth, or the worth of the day, being dictated by productivity - doing things right, or well, or enough. The gift of sabbath is stopping whether you're ready or not, whether you're in a good place or not, because our value comes simply as children of God and that's it. Even busy-minded children.  
I also think with some compassion and self-empathy and patience, minds eventually quiet and we can tap into creativity, but some sabbath days it never does come, the build up of stress or whatever, is too big. 
But the day is still a gift. It's still stopping.  
Creativity comes from a place of settledness, groundedness, and sometimes we're so rest-deprived that we can't quite get there, but we get closer than we were.
Sometimes I keep a little list - all the things my mind is trying to hang onto that I am choosing to set down for the day and come back to tomorrow. So as things comes up I jot them down to let them go.
And in our family, we try to start the days with some sense of intention - beforehand we each answer: Today I say no to... Today I say yes to.... and the day is shaped by freedom and not obligation. That's the most boiled down way we practice it.
Our congregation is hosting a workshop on sabbath and chance to try it out - a practice sabbath - on January 10-11; that's a great place to start if you want to brainstorm together with a few others and be sent into sabbath time with some direction. www.deepbreath.eventbrite.com
Peace!

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