Monday, March 7, 2016

Yes, You Can Sabbatical

Photo by Ali Rossi
sab bat i cal
1. a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.
2. of or relating to the Sabbath

Normally, we think of sabbaticals as time off of work, but perhaps we should expand it to include time away from any routine in which we have lost focus or joy.

I began blogging in earnest during a career sabbatical and somehow managed to turn an expression of creative interests into a chore.

In December, I started a 20-Day Meditation Challenge as an attempt to get out of this mental rut and take my blogging in a new direction. While the Challenge worked wonders for bringing inner peace and focus during the hectic holiday season, it also wiped out my desire to write about anything.

Interestingly, the "archaic" definition of sabbatical is "of or pertaining to" the Sabbath: a period of rest and worship that is observed Friday evening to Saturday evening in the Jewish tradition and Sunday in the Christian tradition and that - for many of us - has evolved into an extension of the work week as a catch-all day to accomplish everything we failed to complete Monday thru Saturday.

Perhaps it's time we reintroduce this concept of the Sabbath, or time of rest. Sabbaticals are important to our mental and spiritual health, because they provide a break (hour, day, week, year or whatever is needed) from routine - be it physical or mental; it is just as easy to get stuck in a thinking rut - obsessed, angry or depressed about this or that - as in an activity rut. Even hobbies and various forms of entertainment can become routine: too much news, too much television, too much social media, too much exercise or sports - the list is endless.

How do we know we need a sabbatical? When we are so mentally stressed that we are having panic attacks. When our days are so packed with activity that we don't have time for even a moment's rest, let alone an hour or a day. When we have forgotten the purpose of our goals. When activities we used to enjoy have become joyless.

Unfortunately, we live in a goal-oriented culture. Everyone has to be doing something - accomplishing something - all the time (even while on sabbatical!) - or else ...

Or else what? The world will end? Our Facebook likes will go down? We'll miss out on something? That is the question, isn't it? What will happen if we just stop doing anything - if we actually take a break from even one of our endless list of non-essential activities?

Well, I have good news: having ventured down that rabbit hole, I can assure you that nothing will happen. That's right: nothing. The world will continue to spin. Your social media accounts will be intact. Your TV shows will be saved to DVR, and new ones will have been produced. More news will have been generated, books written, photos taken and posted and mountains climbed. But you may not care anymore. Having realized that nothing has happened while you were resting, you may even experience a bit of peace and a good night's sleep.

Yes, you can sabbatical.

[This post was originally shared on my other blog, Joyful-Lifestyle.]