Where is Sabbath consciousness in your busy life and in our 24/7 culture? How do you rest or retreat?
I first asked this question of a client who is extraordinary in her commitment to doing, managing and caring for her family and her community. Her self-care is about keeping herself healthy so she can keep going at her amazing pace. I looked at her and asked her if she had a Sabbath consciousness and she asked me what I meant.
Here are my thoughts on Sabbath consciousness.
Sabbath consciousness is the attention and commitment to giving yourself time to rest or to retreat in a very special sense. Rest is passive and retreat is active, both are set apart and both sanctify your existence.
Rest is your holy time of restoration, of stepping outside your active life into quietness, stillness and serenity. Through Holy Rest we repair and refuel our bodies and souls. We stop and do nothing that we have been doing or intend to do. It is a spiritually sweet pause.
Retreat is a quiet time in a secluded place for a sacred activity. A sacred retreat enhances, expands and elaborates our experience of body and soul. A Sabbath retreat is the taking up of a new activity. It is spiritually creative engagement outside the ordinary.
Both holy rest and sacred retreat are spiritual arts and require designing, learning, practicing and developing. You design the forms of rest and retreat that benefit your individual needs and you devote yourself to evolving the forms into their most elegant and meaningful reality.
In this post I want to look at Holy Rest.
DESIGNING YOUR HOLY REST
The first thing that comes to mind when we speak of rest is sleep. Ordinary sleep is not Sabbath sleep and does not provide Holy Rest. Sabbath Sleep or Holy Rest is sacramental, ritualized and special.
Sabbath sleep can be the blink of your eyes when for a sweet moment you leave space and time and enter the spiritual world as a spiritual being and experience restoration. Blink now with Sabbath consciousness knowing you have however briefly entered and rested in spiritual realms. Remind yourself everyday that a blink is a holy rest, it will change your life.
But an extended holy rest requires more attention. It begins with a feeling for and creation of sanctuary and altar. Think how you want to design the sanctuary and the altar for this sacrament of holy rest. Sabbath sleep does not take place in an unprepared room on an ordinary bed at the usual bedtime. (The hotel industry knows this and attracts its customers with a consciousness of the the need we feel to sleep in a sanctuary on an altar although these are pseudo sanctuaries and altars and do not belong to you.)
In the evolution of consciousness we have reached a stage of individuality where we can create are own spiritual practices out of our I-being or higher self. We no longer need gurus, high priests or ecclesiastical authorities. We can choose and shape our places, activities, purposes and meanings without directives from others.
How can you benefit from the practice of Holy Rest?
How often you practice Holy Rest is up to you. Once a week, a month, a season, a year? How long is the rest? 30 minutes, 2 hours, a day? And the time of day I find best is either late morning or mid afternoon when the pull of ordinary sleep is not present.
Must you fall into sleep? Not necessarily, but you will enter the space between waking and sleeping and stay there for a time.
HOLY REST ELEMENTS AND ENVIRONMENT
Imagine gifting your Holy Rest practice with a set of linens, a quilt (oh, do I wish I had the time to design and make a Holy Rest quilt!), a pillow that is never used for ordinary sleep. Do you wear a special garment or gown? Do you keep all your Holy Rest elements in a dedicated closet, chest or basket?
Do you prepare with a bath made with certain essential oils? What is the source of light – the sun, the moon and stars, beeswax candles? How do you shape your silent environment? Should you shut off your electrical power with all the hums and forces it creates and unplug your modem, cable and phones?(You can do this without causing any difficulty.)
I do hope I am inspiring you to take up this practice. I imagine our world to be a better place if enough of us take up the practice of Holy Rest. Even those in terrible situations of poverty or imprisonment can blink with Sabbath consciousness.
MORE THOUGHTS ON HOLY REST
There are certain days when Nature – temperature, light, air, sounds – have a tender configuration that bless rest with a feeling of great spiritual presence. Sabbath consciousness may call you to a spontaneous Holy Rest.
If your time is committed to a job or to young children, your practice of Holy Rest will require more arrangement. Can you take a personal day from work? Can you find someone to care for your children? Would the spiritual rejuvenation from a Holy Rest benefit all that you do and all those you care for?
Holy Rest is not indulgent nor narcissistic, it is transcendent spiritual practice when done with Sabbath Consciousness.
Yes, there is a form of Holy Rest that mirrors the rest of the seventh day in Genesis. This comes with a consciousness of the completion of a creative gesture. You have done something that only you can do. It is done, done well, done with purpose, meaning and significance. Or you have crossed a threshold of inner development and found new freedom or greater love. Or you have thought a profound new thought sparkling with truth. You have formed a moral feeling of glowing beauty. You have become worthy of intimate attention from the spiritual world and you place yourself on your altar of Holy Rest.
You can also use the practice of Holy Rest to sanctify a beginning at the beginning. When you know you are about to take a new initiative filled with sacred intention, first rest with Sabbath consciousness.
Garments are protective and signifying. You can choose a shawl of Holy Rest and keep it with you at work or if you are traveling. Place it over your shoulders which actually is wrapping the shawl around your heart, when you want a few moments of Holy Rest.
For parents…give your child a Holy Rest shawl. If your child sees you using your shawl and coming to a stillness and quiet, s/he will imitate you. You will be giving her/him a simple practice to self-soothe which helps bring beauty to the process of your child’s incarnation.
I do hope I am inspiring you to bring your attention your need for Holy Rest. I have given only simple suggestions. If Holy Rest feels right to you, spend time designing your practice.
Take up the practice of Holy Rest. You are worthy of it and deserve its blessing.
I will bring some thoughts on Sacred Retreat soon.
Please share your comments on Holy Rest.
I love this concept of Sabbath consciousness! I am off to a Sacred Retreat in the mountains for 8 days and plan to do lots of Holy Resting. I will ritualize it, create a special place in my cabin, and bring my most precious quilt… I’m so excited you have offered me more sacred intention and beauty to my retreat and rest.
Patricia, Please come back to this post after your retreat and share your impressions of Holy Rest.
I have just sent an email to my Trainer in teaching in early childhood telling her how i say i would have more imagination if i rested or had a quiet time then how i hardly do because there are a million things to be done.
You have inspired me because i can find a time in my schedule to this even with the children in class after the morning children have left and only the aftercare ones remain, just before i go into the meetings. I have a feeling i will be more present at the meetings and in general.
I am truly grateful.
Silviah, Wonderful way for applying this Sabbath consciousness. I hope more early childhood teachers find this helpful.
Thank you Lynn for spending time bringing this to us all. I have been struggling with the need to carve out time for my innerself too. I have also tried to carve out a special restful sunday routine for our family, but what I found was that a lot of the wonderful activities and outings we enjoy together are often scheduled for a Saturday and Sunday. I have been holding this question of how Sunday was once a time of rest. I imagined not washing on Sunday… yikes too much washing for Monday! The preparations for the week of school and work often happen on a Sunday. Gosh I even started wondering about morning tea break. My grandparents always stop for a cup of tea. It’s not just a refuel stop. They actually stop… So this reframe of holy rest was just what I needed Thanks… I will imagine again… this time with new eyes, new consciousness of what it is my soul is yearning for.