Welcome to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons

Early Autumn 2019 | Reflections on the Practice of Sabbath

Why I quit drinking. And other thoughts on rest…

I’ve got a personal reflection to share with you.

But first, let me tell you why…

The Yoga Church community—of which you are a dear member—is diverse. We come from different religious backgrounds. We live in different countries. We have different levels of experience with spiritual practice.

But there’s a few things we all have in common. We’re interested in diving deep and we’re willing to do the hard work of transformation. We’re interested in exploring anything that helps us deepen our connection with Divine Mystery (however we choose to name it) and we’re always trying to love better. No matter how imperfectly, we’re working everyday to love ourselves, our community, and our world better.

Transformation, Connection, understanding Divine Mystery, Love, and Work… None of this is easy. It all takes effort.

And it takes REST.

Unfortunately, the modern world doesn’t often preach rest. It’s constantly yelling for MORE! More work, more effort, more productivity, more results.

So I’ve decided we’re going to interrupt this conversation.

From now on the yoga church community will intentionally hold up REST as an important value—as an important part of our spiritual practice.

Eight times a year this newsletter will focus on the practice of sabbath.

I’ll come to you with resources that support the practices of slowing down and replenishing. Because:

  • Connecting with Mystery requires a certain subtlety. And if we’re always rushing we run the risk of missing the very real ways in which the Divine infuses every aspect of our lives.
  • And trying to love better takes a well rested soul able to tap into the inner wells of compassion. When we’re working on borrowed energy (and caffeine and sugar and whatever else) our fuses are short and intentional action becomes harder than it actually is.

Slowing down is somewhat straightforward (not easy mind you, but straightforward). Replenishment on the other hand, can be a bit more complicated. How do we know if our “restful” activities are actually replenishing us? 

Zoning out and dulling our minds is not the same thing as replenishment…

People are stuck in the cycle of more. And they’re scared that if they rest they’ll fall behind, that they’ll be judged, that they’ll lose out on something. So they keep pushing and pushing. And then they burn out. They get overwhelmed by fatigue, illness, and stress.

I state this as fact because I’ve heard it over and over again in my work as a yoga therapist.

Refusing to rest leads to dis-ease and in my work with clients I’ve discovered two things:

People don’t believe that rest is useful. We might be able to talk a good game about how important it is, but deep down, we don’t believe it.

People don’t know how to rest. We know how to shut our brains off and zone out, but actual rest is a lost art.

For the past year or so I’ve been wrestling with my own relationship to rest. I’ve been trying to find the lines that separate my work life from my personal life. As a self-employed person who works from home these lines are often blurry. But in my inquiry around rest, I’ve uncovered some startling habits. Or I should say, I’ve allowed myself to examine these habits in a new light.

We all know our bad habits. Whether we admit them out loud or not, we know which habits get in our way. I certainly know mine. For several years I’ve been wondering about two of them: drinking too much alcohol and binge watching TV.

Through some hard self-reflection I’ve discovered they both give me a false sense of rest.

I have an active mind that never stops producing ideas (I should do more of that…, I could create this…, what if I tried that?, maybe if I did it more like this…) (fill in the blank with your own mental conversation around more, more, more). Alcohol and television numb the mind and dull the senses. They allow me to zone out and shut down.

But they don’t nourish me. In fact, alcohol poisons my body. And television hurts my eyes and brings unnecessary stress to my sleep.

I’m still working on my relationship with television (I’m going to try and stop watching after 9pm…), but last June I decided to quit drinking. I’m not saying I’ll never have champagne on New Year’s Eve again, but alcohol is no longer a regular part of my life. 

My family lineage is filled with alcoholism, which led to a childhood need to control everything. Which led to an inability to play with ease. But as I grew older, I learned that alcohol could create a sense of playfulness. It could allow for fun. But over time it became the definition of fun. At a certain point I realized it was the center of most activities… Wine with dinner. Beer after a project. Cider after a hike. New friends, old friends. This party. That event. Alcohol was always at the center. It was the way to relax. A way to celebrate. A way to deal with hard things. A way to create a transition between work life and home life. It was a signal of “rest.” It was everywhere all the time.

But after responding to some bad news with way too much booze, I finally said: enough.

So I’m now on a journey of exploration. I’m trying to find things that feel both nourishing and pleasurablethat feel different and separate from work. I’m attempting to learn how to play. My husband wants us to take up disc golf. And I’m thinking of getting into making 3D models of Marvel characters… (it turns out I’m a huge nerd).

I’m trying to figure out the difference between numbing and resting.

It’s important work. And while I’m doing it imperfectly, I’m committed to doing it. I’m committed to finding activities that allow me to authentically relax into playfulness. I’m committed to finding ways to separate work time from down time. I’m committed to finding sabbath practices that bring me rest and root me more deeply in what matters most.

Will you join me in this exploration?

Reflection Questions

  • What’s the difference between numbing and resting?
  • How do you feel when you’re rested?
    • How do you feel in your body?
    • What happens in your thoughts, mood, and behavior?
  • How do you feel when you’re not rested?
    • How do you feel in your body?
    • What happens in your thoughts, mood, and behavior?
  • What activities deeply nourish you?
    • How often do you make time for these activities?
    • If they’re not a regular part of your life what stops you?
  • What activities help deepen your connection with God?
    • How often do you make time for these activities?
    • If they’re not a regular part of your life what stops you?
  • What activities do you regularly turn to when you’re tired and want rest, but they’re actually offering you a false sense of rest?
    • Why are these so easy to fall into?
    • What could you replace them with (at least some of the time?)

Community Sharing

We all benefit from the wisdom of spiritual community. And community means more than one voice, so please add yours to the conversation. How do you distinguish between nourishing rest and false rest?