Welcome to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons

Early Winter 2020 | Reflections on the Practice of Sabbath


Every six weeks or so, we turn our attention toward sabbath. We explore the practice of rest.

We all know that rest is ‘important.’ But that doesn’t necessarily mean we value it or know how to do it.

My husband is training for a 100 mile trail run (crazy in my mind…). He’s been reading a coaching book and told me the author talks about ‘deploying rest’ just as you deploy effort. He says things like: “this would be a good day to deploy some rest.” Jeremy says that the use of an action verb like deploy has helped him to feel like his rest days are actually useful

Rest is an essential ingredient of well-being and health. Finding ways to restfully nourish (rather than dull and numb) ourselves is a crucial part of our spiritual practice.

The minister Wayne Muller (in his great book called Sabbath) wrote:

In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest.

All life requires a rhythm of rest. There is a rhythm in our waking activity and the body’s need for sleep. There is a rhythm in the way day dissolves into night, and night into morning. There is a rhythm as the active growth of spring and summer is quieted by the necessary dormancy of fall and winter. There is a tidal rhythm, a deep, eternal conversation between the land and the great sea. In our bodies, the heart perceptibly rests after each life-giving beat; the lungs rest between the exhale and the inhale.

We have lost this essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something–anything–is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger.

In our drive for success we are seduced by the promises of more: more money, more recognition, more satisfaction, more love, more information, more influence, more possessions, more security. Even when our intentions are noble and our efforts sincere–even when we dedicate our lives to the service of others–the corrosive pressure of frantic overactivity can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others.

Reflection Questions

  • Is rest and nourishment part of your regular rhythms?
  • How well do you nourish yourself with food, friends, laughter, creativity, etc?
  • What activities are nourishing for you (as opposed to dulling or numbing)?
  • What activities do you love?
  • How can you bring nourishing, restful, enjoyable activities into your life more often?

This week I have a 30-minute guided yoga nidra practice for you.

Yoga Nidra is a fully guided meditation practice designed to bring you into a state of consciousness somewhere between waking and sleeping. It diffuses your attention and leads you on a journey through all levels of your being. It’s an utterly nourishing practice that offers deep relaxation for your body and mind while connecting you with a deeper vision of yourself.

It’s absolutely amazing…

So set yourself up in a completely supported, super cozy posture. Here are two options:

  • Lay down on the floor (or your bed) with a rolled blanket under your knees, a blanket or pillow under your head, and a blanket over you to keep warm.
  • Lay on your back and put your lower legs up on a chair (or couch). Wrap a strap (or bathroom or neck tie) around your thighs so your legs can fall into the support. And cover yourself with a blanket to keep warm.

And then, push play and deploy some rest!


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.