Rest. I am not just talking about getting a great night’s sleep here. I am talking about a real rejuvenating rest and how this rest isn’t just optional…it’s actually how we were designed. I know what it feels like to not get this kind of rest…because if you are working each and every day 7 days a week…that isn’t rest…it’s a non stop hamster wheel kind of life. I was living that life up until not too long ago. I really did not think about it. I figured if I got 7-8 hours of sleep (which I often did) I was getting the required rest that I needed. I mean that’s what all the health types say right? Get a good night’s sleep…and…yet I was not rested. My brain and my heart lived and breathed my business and my familial responsibilities. I found I awoke at night with ideas for blog posts or recipes fairly often. I was never at peace and never turned off.
About 7 months ago I decided to take rest to a whole new level. I am Jewish as you know and of course I am no stranger to Shabbat. In my mind it was something only very observant Jews did, however. I did remember though visiting my cousin in Israel a number of years ago my first true Shabbat experience and I remembered how relaxing it was and it left an imprint on my soul. So as I was listening last summer to Dani Johnson’s Time Secrets (this is a very convicting and inspiring set of DVDs teaching time management skills – did I mention I was working a lot and never at rest? You can learn more about my current schedule here), I HEARD as she started talking about observing the Sabbath as a way to rest and be more efficient and effective with your time when you are actually working. This reminded me of that special time with my cousin back in Israel. It woke up my soul to the experience of Shabbat…of true peace.
I decided to do it that very weekend (this was last August)! I started observing Shabbat every week. I started in my own way – starting very slowly and increasing my observance over time. Let’s just say in Judaism being fully shomer shabbos is a very detailed set of observances and isn’t something you dive into in a week’s time full throttle! Now I don’t know about you but getting off the hamster wheel for one day per week has actually changed my life! It just makes sense. In this week’s reading, Vayakhel: Exodus 35:1 – 38:20, we get many not so subtle hints that we are designed to rest by the Lord above and that is why it just fits and makes sense to me.
Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the L-rd…” – Exodus 35:2
G-d doesn’t tell you that “you shall work…”. In NOT commanding we shall work but saying it in a more passive manner that the work ‘shall be done’ we learn a HUGE lesson about ourselves and how we can best serve here on this planet with the time we have been given.
I am going to attempt to explain why with my 5 reasons for making this commitment to getting some true rest every week.
5 Reasons to Rest
I used to believe there was no such thing as balance. This word annoyed me. Everyone seeks balance but striving for it only causes it to be more and more elusive. I have come to realize this feeling was because I was not living a balanced life. We have this fear of losing control of our lives if we stop. I know I personally only have two speeds: ON and OFF. I am either moving a million miles a minute or I am asleep. The way it is written is that we are permitted to passively work. We can earn our livelihood but we are not supposed to be consumed with our work. In the beginning I had to work at taking a day of rest! And I can say now that I have achieved real balance because I can always look forward to my Shabbat to know that each week I will have some peace in my life. I use Peace and Calming blend for fear of losing control. I apply to my chest (right near my diaphragm) and say: “I am content and blessed” when balance is elusive to me.
Observing a day of rest requires faith and trust that our success is not based on our efforts alone. When we strive to make things happen and we do not stop to bless the One that has enabled us to reach this season then we miss an opportunity. We truly need to let it go! I use Sage often for this emotion. I apply it to my lower abdomen and say: “Let go and let G-d”.
3. Peace of mind.
It’s amazing what happens in the pauses in life. I used to think about this for my daughter. It is in those moments of boredom when she is not being entertained that the most brilliant ideas come out of her! Allowing yourself to just be in the moment and not be consumed or worried about anything brings forth creative inspiration. Why do you think meditation, yoga, and adult coloring books are so popular? People know this…we say “I need to sleep on it” when we are too tired to germinate an idea. I remember feeling very frustrated when I was consistently too tired to do any real productive work and so I would default to what I thought would be marginally productive (uh scrolling through Facebook) so that I felt I was maybe getting something done. In reality, I was not being productive at all. All because my brain (and more likely my soul) was not in a place to receive any divine inspiration. When we put our mind, heart and soul at rest some pretty powerful things can happen and we open ourselves up to receive blessings to achieve what we truly desire!
4. True freedom from ‘MORE’ mentality
G-d promises: “Keep My Sabbath and the work shall be done.” We fear of our business will crumble if we duck out for a few hours or even a few minutes! We think that the more we work, the harder we work and the more hours we work, the more successful we will become. This simply isn’t true. I have found quite the opposite. As I have experienced again this Shabbat kind of rest, the frenetic hamster wheel energy that used to permeate my life no longer exists. And we reap what we sow. Striving for more just isn’t a part of the equation anymore. And this is how we open up the channel for more blessings to flow our way. This is what the Torah means when it says,
And the L‑rd your G‑d will bless you in all that you do” – Deuteronomy 15:18.
“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,” – Exodus 20:9.
Our Torah Sages say: “On the Shabbat, a person should regard himself as if all his work were complete.” What a concept! This isn’t just the kind of rest that sleeping each night provides. This is REAL rest. The kind of rest in which YOU are FREE of all workday concerns.
5. Connected family time.
Observing Shabbat means that moms get a rest from household duties too! So moms this means no laundry and no doing dishes and no cooking! It also means no phones, no television, and no iPads. So what does this leave for family activities throughout the day? It means true connection with each other. It means actually taking the time to talk to each other and not seek to ‘entertain’ or ‘distract’ anyone else. We read to each other and play games. We take walks. We focus on one another.
I can remember so clearly when I decided I would not turn on any lights or the oven/stove to cook on Shabbat anymore. My husband took this in stride (he is not as observant as me and so we joke that he is my shabbos ‘goy’ – or helper). He was a bit worried at first but he supported me. And so he very clearly decided he would get to know my patterns better. He got right up and prepared my daughter breakfast (fried eggs) so that I would not have to. He also made sure the lights were on that I needed and when I fell asleep he turns off my lamp. You see on Shabbat I cannot tell anyone what I might need. I can’t say – will you please turn that light off for me? Or will you turn down the thermostat? This was incredibly freeing for me as a mother. I am constantly ‘thinking’ about and telling my family what to do. On Shabbat I can let this go. I am free. But it makes me a better mom. I am still mom but free from any preoccupying thoughts and maybe even some resentments.
Did I mention that on Shabbat we are commanded to not light any fires? This also means the fire of conflict! So we know we have to be kind and not stir up any conflict on Shabbat! What a concept! It helps us not just on Shabbat but during the week as well because of the practice we get on Shabbat! So now we all KNOW each other better. We don’t just go through the motions. We take time in the stillness to be together. It has brought us closer together and we all feel so incredibly special serving each other and honoring and respecting each other in this way.
And so what happens for dinner? We order pizza to culminate Shabbat – I don’t even have to think about making dinner! Our family has not fallen to pieces without me working on Shabbat…it is quite the opposite…it has brought us closer together!
Wrap up: Oils to add to your prayers
- Peace and Calming for fear of losing control. The other side is Balance. Say “I am content and blessed” while applying a drop of Peace and Calming to the chest.
- Sage for Letting Go. The other side is Happiness. Say “Let go and Let G-d” while applying Sage to the lower abdomen.