Keeping The Sabbath

Intense. Strange. Overwhelming. Larger Than Life. Chaotic. Overly Dramatic. Extreme. Over The Top. Violent. Sexualized. Disturbing. Undermining. Noisy. Fast-Paced. Exhausting. And lots more of the same.

These are the words that come to my mind as someone who was recently watching TV,  while being that same someone who has lived within our home without TV for many years. These are the words and feelings of someone not used to this experience anymore. This is what I go through though each and every time I get back in front of it again; which I usually do several times a year, with the most recent experience being to watch the Patriots in a playoff game.

Each and every time I get back in front of it again, I have the same thought: What is happening to us? More to the point, what is happening for those of us who never get a break from this? Those of us left to base our thoughts and wants and beliefs on the all too often very strange images coming across a screen?

Most importantly of all, what is happening to the ones growing up now with so much intensity? The ones who will never know anything else but this. The ones believing that this is normal. And maybe even the best that they can hope for around how to spend their lives.

Contrast this to a woman I recently spoke with who keeps the Sabbath. For her this means no electronics for an entire day as part of her observances. And then there is another woman I know who is writing a book on keeping the Sabbath as an approach to living; a way to bring the mindset and practices of this sacred day into the day to day.

Sabbath is defined as a time of rest. And rest is defined as peace of mind and spirit. Is this not what we are all really looking for? More than anything else even? More than even what the almighty screens have to offer?

So how about it? What would it be like to designate a day? Or part of a day to going screen-free. You will need to give yourself enough time to stop feeling as though you are missing out on something. You will need to give yourself enough time to settle in, settle down, and forget about it. To watch how long this takes is, in and of itself, some truly valuable information. Not as a way to scold yourself, or feel bad about your choices. But instead, as an opportunity to see clearly the hold that it has on you, and then to go on to decide whether or not this is OK for you.

Get creative. Maybe your Screen Sabbath means not being in front of anything when you are with friends or loved ones. Maybe it means nothing right before bed or upon awakening. Maybe it means a TV-free night. Maybe it means you leave the emails at work for one or two designated times, and spend the rest of your day, well, working.

Any way you do it, could you imagine creating that all-important old school boundary referred to by some as the Sabbath? A regular time and space in your life when only certain things are allowed in? And as importantly, a time when many things are given no admission at all. Not because they are bad, but because every human being seeks peace of mind and spirit. And because tradition would tell us that one of the ways that we get there is to draw some very clearly defined lines in our lives around the technologies as the royal road to our own version of keeping the Sabbath.



“God is in the trembling.” I read this, and it gives me peace. Imagine it. What if God truly were in the things that we found most difficult? Overwhelming. Unbearable. Gross. Messy. Shameful. Painful. Unsightly. Unseemly.

Personally, I resonate most with the healing and spiritual traditions that make lots and lots of room for being human. The ones that teach that for us to know our divine nature, and for us to have any chance of feeling at home here in our own bodies, is to embrace and be with the density and the muck of our humanity. The ones that say that if we travel straight into the heart of the very experiences that feel like too much to be with, this is where we will find not only our connection to All That Is, but a greater sense of ease about who we are, and how to be here.

This is not meant to be known as a concept, an idea, or even as a set of instructions that you follow, but instead, as a felt sense. Something you can feel and know in your gut. As in I know this to be true in every single part of me; from my brain to my bones and beyond. A  direct experience of what is actually happening for you in the form of the trembling, the sorrow, the physical sensations, the irritations, the fears, and more.

This is an experience that is separate from what the rational mind or other people say is OK or how it is that you need to be socially in order to fit in. It is a kind of knowing from within that penetrates and permeates the totality of who we are. A kind of going in wherever you are, and then coming out on the other side. But it can be a very long trip from standing in the trembling to coming out the other side. Therefore, how do we make our way?

We begin by noticing what we will not allow in ourselves. And ever so gently, we begin to inquire why that might be. We begin to notice the ways that we want absolutely no part of some parts of ourselves. And then we do the inconceivable. We give whatever is there, permission to be there. As is. No strings. No demands. No time limits. No hiding and no shaming.

This runs so contrary to our collective beliefs that we must be continuously on guard against something arising which we feel should not, cannot, must not, be there. It runs contrary to the thoughts that say if I accept this about myself I will be kicked out, worthless, the object of ridicule, a deserving recipient of shame, unsafe. Or. If I allow this to be here, it will never go away. Or. Agreeing to it being here says I want it.

We have come to believe that only by achieving some other, “better” version of us will we be OK. More acceptable. More worthy. More…whatever. Many of us spend our entire lives trying to be good enough, holy enough, moral enough, worthy enough, smart enough, thin enough, young enough. It might be one thing if this actually worked. If it ever did produce a real experience of feeling more whole. But far too often, it just doesn’t.

Why is that? Because as soon as you have satisfied one condition of being better, another one pops up, and you will forever more find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to constantly monitor and upgrade. Monitor and upgrade. Monitor and upgrade.

It is a finish line that just keeps getting moved. A terrible and endless trap. Demoralizing and maddening at best. But ultimately, and at worst, the absolute wrong idea of who we truly are, along with what it is that is happening for us.

Recently, I began experimenting with something I picked up out of Brene Brown’s book Braving The Wilderness. In it she tells a story about right before she went on the Oprah Show; how she was freaking out around all the ways that she wasn’t enough of this or that. To counteract this awful and soul-crushing inner and made-up experience, she sat down and wrote herself a permission slip. Old school. Just like the ones you used to write out and sign for a kid going on a field trip.

Only this one was for her. This one was to give herself permission to be exactly who she is. Give it a try. The next time you find yourself fretting over how you don’t measure up, give yourself the permission, verbal or written, to be exactly who you are. As you are. And what you are, in any given moment.

P.S. In case there is any confusion, this is never about acting out on yourself or others “the trembling.” It is instead about feeling and recognizing what is there. Often, we are afraid to be with what is there because we are afraid of what we might “do.” Remember though, feeling something and acting something out are two entirely different things. To feel what is there is to take responsibility for. To act out what is there is to project your experience outside of yourself; the opposite of taking responsibility.

Truly, what an important distinction and practice for the times we are living in.

Lay Down


Last year, while alone in the New Mexican desert fasting, an amazing thing happened the first night out. It is something that continues to linger; having led to profound changes inside of me at a level beyond words, and yet, simultaneously, directly felt in my body.

You see, it is one thing to be on your own in the middle of nowhere in the daytime. But it becomes an entirely different entity in the night. Somehow in the darkness every rational and irrational fear you ever had, or might ever have, band together to form their own terrifying version of dark possibilities in your mind.

I could see this was coming as the sun began to set, and so, I started praying, begging really, that I be allowed to spend that first night out without “something getting me.” Now that something could have been real, but more than likely I knew that “that something” would be some internal, made-up, mind-driven horror show of my own making. So I asked to be protected from myself in this regard. And I asked if it were possible to have a good night’s sleep.

But mostly, I asked to have an experience that night of laying on the ground, in contact with the rhythms of the Earth, in a way that would help to restore my nervous system to a base line of ease, confidence, and resilience. A kind of going back in time to reset any of the ways my sense of safety and security in my body and in the world had been compromised.

To my great surprise, and eternal gratitude, I slept through the night; waking only once to open my eyes long enough to see a shooting star, and then easily falling back to sleep. When I awoke unafraid in the morning, it felt like nothing short of a miracle.

As if that wasn’t enough, that same miracle has continued in the most unexpected of ways since getting back home. Prior to my time in the desert, if I did not get at least 8 hours of sleep, I would feel absolutely ruined the next day. I would be touchy, edgy, physically unwell, and just plain exhausted to the bone if I did not get at least that amount of sleep. Prior to the desert I would feel absolutely unequipped to deal with life if my sleep was at all compromised. This left me working very, very hard. It was as if there was no reserve in my tank from which I could draw on. As if I were, on some level, closer to empty than would be expected given the resources available to me.

But since the desert, it  somehow no longer matters, at all, how much sleep I get. Sure, I continue to gravitate to the 8 hours, but if it doesn’t happen, well, no big deal. It has been such a significant shift in me that those who know me best have commented on it.

Best of all, this goes well beyond sleep; directly supporting and shifting a deep and lasting change in my nervous system where better resilience around sleep deprivation is but one outcome. It feels as though I was somehow re-wired, leaving me better equipped to handle Life in all of its forms. The stuff that used to really get to me, rattle me, stay with me, rolls off of me now like water off a duck’s back.

I mention all of this to you to point out that for most of the history of our species, we laid down each night on the ground. More to the point, each and every day we came into direct and continuous contact with the earth. Many traditions point to the necessity and benefits of putting our bodies against the land for an experience of homeostasis-ness and healing. Even science has caught up to this reality. For now it can be measured that the earth has an electrical field; a kind of resonance, that puts us back in tune. Not only can it be felt, it can be measured.

It stands to reason then that if you are not feeling well in body, mind or spirit, or want to live more balanced and enlivened on a regular basis, go put yourself up against the Earth. You do not have to “know” anything because this is not a rational pursuit. You do not have to know what you are doing because it is not you who will be doing the doing. This is between your body and the body of the Earth. Just make it a point to regularly get at least your feet or butt on the ground. And then wait. Breathe. Receive. Feel.




I should have known. Any time I create a big, bold version of what I want to manifest in the world, what shows up first, always, are all of the ways that I am keeping myself from what it is that I am asking for. Or wanting to express, unveil, claim, or experience. So, I guess that it should have come as no surprise to me that only 2 days into the New Year, “doubt” has found its way into my mind.

Doubt, as in of lack of confidence and uncertainty about how to proceed. In other words, the classic definition of the word, along with the decidedly uncomfortable and undermining experience to self-worth that accompanies it.

I do not know why it is that we as humans are the only aspects of Consciousness on the planet that struggle with choosing to manifest our fullest expression in the world. I only know that it is. Sure, we can all name the personal reasons why we limit ourselves, and yet, truly we are no different than the trees and the wolves, the sun and the moon, even the spiders and the ants, who can only be fully and completely who and what they are; without hesitation or reservation. No matter what they experience along the way, they can only come back over and over again to their truest and fullest expression.

Yet, here we are as humans, having somehow separated ourselves from this Truth, choosing instead to follow all of our doubts and fears around what we are capable of, and what we believe we have a right to go for. Therefore, since doubt does exist, is a part of the human experience, how is it that we can proceed? How is it that we can recognize it without succumbing to it? Such that when doubt does come to visit, we can see it for what it is, and somehow include it in the experience. This as opposed to using it as a way to diminish or derail ourselves.

I find there are many possibilities when it comes to working with difficult emotions like this. The nuts and bolts of it always being the ability to name what the feeling or the thought is. As in, “oh yeah, here’s doubt.” The capacity to get into the habit of doing this offers the essential experience of separation from something that if left unchecked holds the power to get us going in the exact opposite direction of what is true. While simple to state, this first step requires a commitment to noticing and becoming aware of your inner world. Yet, it is so powerful that if you only ever went this far, you would discover a kind of freedom unknown to yourself before.

Why is that? Because, in the recognition of what is there, you become privy to the history, the memories, the sensations, and the stories you have attached to the doubt as it comes up for you. This arms you with a kind of debunking superpower in that you are now in a position to choose whether or not to feed this thing called doubt.

When I can do this with my own experience, I find that doubt drives me back to faith; to the absolute knowing that because I know doubt, I know faith. And because I know them both, I  have a choice of what it is that I will let drive me. Doubt reminds me that being uncertain, and not knowing what to do, allows me to reach out for more support; to do what I need to do to engage with a widening circle of meaningful and supportive friends and colleagues. Doubt reminds me to shift my perspective into what is more life-affirming and true. For me this translates into a regular referencing of the natural world which always, and in all ways, expresses itself easily, fully, and continuously.

And today, doubt has helped me listen to my instincts. The very same ones that took me to my dictionary to look up a definition. Where to my surprise I found that one of the descriptions of doubt is, A deliberate suspension of judgment.

I can work on that.