Gimme Sabbath: How an Ancient Practice Heals Modern Woes

Pensive Student in ClassroomThis article preview comes from a piece I wrote for the October editor of devozine. Click here to read the full piece.

When autumn sets in I am confronted with a new reality. Gone are the long days of summer with their permission for sun lounging and twilight porch gazing. In their place arrives a full calendar; playtime quickly yields to shorter days and more homework.

Once the semester’s deluge sets in, we start counting the weeks until final exams. At the start of each class, I ask my students to check in quickly with themselves: How am I coping with the endless to-do lists?— and with one another: “How are you doing?”

“Raise your hand if you need a break,” I ask. I don’t want my students living in a world of countdowns. I want them to take time to refuel and refresh now. I want them to embrace hours for play, quiet time, and rest.

Though students typically don’t work demanding full-time jobs, they do live their lives feeling as if they work all the time. According to research, many students are online about 10 hours a day, often using multiple devices to do school work and homework, watch videos, and connect on social media.

While most young people view this time online as a break, media, whether for work or play, stimulates our brains. The result? We feel “on” 24/7, even if we think we are using our devices to unwind. We remain plugged in, unable to unplug for reflection, reconnecting, and renewing.

But there is an alternative. Sabbath, the ancient practice of ceasing from work, is both countercultural and counterintuitive: How do we gain something by doing nothing? How do we refill ourselves by emptying our schedules?

Continue reading at devozine.

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