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 A Door To Your Soul 

…Taking a Personal Mental Sabbath

Text by: Jane Cox

When I woke this morning, I knew I could not survive living another day in the same mundane fashion I’d just spent the last few weeks. Something in the way the rising sun was spilling in through my window told me, or rather whispered to me, that today I needed to refuel and recharge my mind and spirit if I didn’t want to wind up spiraling headfirst into the numbing depression I had been fighting off for days. I had no idea why, but I could not seem to focus or find control over my worried, fearful thoughts. What I needed was a listening ear —
someone who would completely understand me without judgment. I needed to be comforted, emotionally pampered. I needed to feel and be in tune with God, The Spirit, The Universe, and to bask in that light and love. That is what I needed, but what I had been getting was writing deadlines, whining children, sick babies, a grouchy husband, a messy house, a “check engine” light on my car, favors for my extended family, outside responsibilities such as church and school, and various other tedious, worrisome problems, all weighing heavily on my mind. I had tried my usual remedy of prayer and meditation, but my mind was so clogged with thoughts of everything I had to get done in order to stay on top of my life that the effort it took to pray and meditate drained me, instead of filling me.
Last night, I went to sleep wondering how much more I would be able to handle before I would cease to function. And then, this morning—this wonderful, glorious morning—on a stroke of inspiration, I decided I would take a personal mental Sabbath. What does taking a Personal Mental Sabbath Day mean? Well, for me, it was this. I first informed my husband that I would not be available until after 12:30 this afternoon. I figured that was enough time to get myself back on track. (Besides, I had a meeting with my older kids’ school teacher to go over some paperwork at 1:00 p.m. so I knew I needed to be regrouped by then.) Next, after making sure my two little boys were properly fed and dressed, I went into my bedroom, closed the door, and took out a spiral notebook and decided to clear all the thoughts that were clouding my psyche. I wrote in my fastest, ugliest handwriting everything that was on my mind as it came out of the back of my subconscious and onto the paper. I didn’t bother reading it after I was done; I already knew it would not make any sense having just come from a cluttered mind. I knew that once I could just write I would feel clearer, and not as overwhelmed as I had when I had started. And it was true. That’s exactly how I felt. There is just something about being able to get the thoughts, the fears, and the worries outside of the hiding places in my brain. This exercise always helps me clear some headspace for new, positive and strong thoughts and emotions to exist. I had no real set plans for my Personal Sabbath day, so I was a bit surprised when my inner-self decided I needed to go on a walk. Go figure—normally I have to drag my reluctant body out the door, kicking and screaming in protest of exercise. But this morning, the prospect of being alone with myself, walking, taking in the fresh air and feeling the gentle sunlight, absolutely delighted me.
As I walked, I consciously began asking for things from my Higher Power.

I asked for insight concerning some struggles I’d been experiencing.
I received answers.

I asked to be filled with the strength to love and connect with my children and husband.
I was filled.

I asked to be inspired to write meaningful words.
I was inspired.
By the time I arrived home, my very dear husband was loading my kids into our minivan to take a little daytrip, giving me even more time than I’d requested. I could feel the day already lifting and The Universe helping to give me the things I had asked for. I kissed them all goodbye and then made myself a delicious pasta lunch, complete with garlic bread and a fizzy juice drink. I took a hot shower without being hurried like usual because someone was crying or needed my help. I actually was able to do my hair in an elaborate up-do (I rarely have the time) and then found an outfit that made me feel pretty again. I spent much longer than I actually needed to while applying my makeup, and I even separated my eyelashes with a straight pin, which I haven’t done since high-school (thank you very much).
And now, my dear friend and reader, I am writing to you, to spread the joy of taking the time to renew your soul, to clear your mind, and to then fill it again with good, positive thoughts and energy…to listen to yourself, and to pamper your heart. In these modern times, we spend much of our lives flitting from one thing to the next, putting out one fire and another, yet rarely setting aside a sacred day for our own fulfillment. And indeed, we must be filled in order to give. For if the well is empty, all will thirst. But if the well is full, all may be quenched.

A Guide to Your Own Personal Sabbath

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls taking a Personal Sabbath, “a date with your inner self.” She believes it is imperative to do this at least once a week. You don’t even need to take a full day, just a block of time, maybe two or three hours each week. But you must take them, and they must be your own.
“In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you pre-plan and defend against all interlopers.”
-Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
A Personal Sabbath must be spent alone. This means no friends, spouses, children, and any others-anyone who might unintentionally thwart any efforts you are making to carve out sacred space for yourself. Do something that relaxes you, rejuvenates you, and restores strength within you. Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her book, Simple Abundance, describes it more fully.
“This is what the Sabbath is for: reverence, rest, renewal, rejuvenation, reassuring rituals, recreation, rejoicing, revelation, remembering how much you have to be grateful for, and saying ‘thank you!’ You can do this in a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue, on a walk, while antiquing, sitting in bed propped up on pillows reading something wonderful with a breakfast tray, working the crossword puzzle before a roaring fire, attending a marvelous art exhibition or movie matinee, or listening to opera in the kitchen…while you prepare a fabulous feast. What matters is that you do something special that speaks to your soul and that you revel in whatever you do. Your activities on the Sabbath should uplift you and provide enough inspiration to sustain you during the week to come.”
Think of your
Personal Sabbath as just how it sounds – a Sabbath. It is to be spent similar to how religion teaches to spend the Sabbath. It is a time of rest, a time of reflection, and a time to be respected… not hindered by outside forces. It is also a time to show our gratitude to our Creator for our life and our blessings.
Your soul and your core will thank you, and you will be a much happier individual. Try to Remember:
  1. Do something that speaks to your soul that you normally would never allow yourself the time for.
  2. Do something you may have done with your family or others, but have never done alone.
  3. Or do something that you’ve never quite been brave enough to do alone.

32 Ways to Enjoy Your Personal Sabbath

  1. Take a walk amongst nature. Enjoy the sounds of birds singing, the gentle breeze in the trees, the warm sun on your skin.
  2. Read a beautiful, classic piece of literature.
  3. Read a trashy, romance novel. (There is more than one way to kill a bad day.)
  4. Make yourself a gourmet lunch, complete with something delicious to sip from a fancy goblet.
  5. Take yourself (alone!) to lunch or dinner at a swanky, little restaurant. Order something new. Bring your journal with you, and write about the experience of treating yourself to a nice meal.
  6. Envelop yourself in a steamy, hot bath. Light candles. If you have roses in your garden, bring some petals in, and scatter them in the bath water. Not only is this beautiful to the eyes, but your nose will appreciate the gesture as the aroma of roses fills your senses.
  7. Go to a museum and take a tour. Learn something (or several things) there you didn’t know before.
  8. Experience public transportation and take the local bus or the train to the city library.
  9. Go to your local arboretum, and take in the gorgeous sites of blooming flowers and green foliage. Take your camera so you can capture the surrounding beauty to inspire you to take another Personal Sabbath day.
  10. Go to a movie. Get popcorn.
  11. Go to another movie.
  12. Go swimming on a hot summer’s day. Or find an indoor pool during the winter.
  13. Vegge out on the couch while you eat your favorite treats and watch your favorite show. (If this is something you already do on a regular basis, refrain from doing it on your Personal Sabbath.) Give yourself two hours to do nothing.
  14. Try a new recipe, one you have wanted to try-out for months, but just haven’t had the time for. (You may not, under any circumstances, get stressed-out if it doesn’t turn out the way the picture implied it would. Just breathe and let it go, and appreciate the time you were able to spend in the act of creating.)
  15. Sign up for a community class. Have you ever wanted to try your hand at painting? Pottery? Computers? Karate? Well now you can. Polite Society has just given you permission.
  16. Wander around the Farmer’s Market. Breathe and soak in the array of colors and smells of the beautiful, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers laid out in beckoning displays. Lean over to smell the local potted flowers and roasting nuts. Strike up a conversation with the little man behind the table, and then ask him if you can taste a fruit you’ve never tried before. Try to find the difference between the organic fruit of this homegrown market and that which you buy at the local grocery store. Purchase a jar of fruit compote or herbal mixes you can use at home for a new recipe, and buy a few baskets of fresh produce to bring home.
  17. Buy day old bread at your local supermarket and go feed the ducks by the pond.
  18. Bring a beautiful basket and pick apples at a nearby orchard. Eat them straight off the tree, or make a homemade apple pie.
  19. Go on a treasure hunt. Visit your local flea market or antique shop, and find something that makes your heart flutter.
  20. Shuffle around in a used (or new) bookstore for a few hours. Sit and read at your leisure. Flip through a book on a subject you find interesting, but may not know much about… yet.
  21. Buy one thing you’ve had your eye on for a long time but have talked yourself out of… not enough money… too frivolous… people would think I’m weird. Go ahead and buy it. It’s apparently speaking to you, so of course you need to obtain it.
  22. Visit the perfume and cologne counter to try on some new scents. Let them help you find the right scent. You don’t have to purchase anything, just tell the associate that you would like to let the fragrance sit for awhile before you decide if it’s right for you.
  23. Have you ever flown a kite?
    Go buy yourself a kite, it can even be a cartoon character or made out of paper. Stop at a local park and try your hand at getting the kite up into the air. Then become mesmerized as you watch it float and whip around through the air.
  24. Go to the computer and research dream vacation spots. Make up a sample itinerary of where you would eat and what beautiful sites you’d like to see. Schedule in time for laying by the pool and reading a book.
  25. Explore a music store. There is so much to see and hear! Play with all of the different types of percussion instruments. See how a guitar feels in your arms and under your fingers. Maybe you could take lessons… If you already own a guitar (or any other musical instrument for that matter), find one you’ve only ever dreamed of owning, and ask the clerk for permission to play it. Imagine yourself buying it as you strum the chords and pluck the strings. Dream. Smile to yourself, knowing that you will be able to have all you need and want someday as you put the guitar back.
  26. Go for a bike ride. If you don’t have your own bike, borrow someone’s. Don’t pick a destination, just ride. Feel the wind in your hair and take deep breaths of fresh outside air.
  27. Look through old family photos. Watch old home videos. Let yourself feel the poignancy of nostalgia.
  28. Write in your journal. Tell your journal how you felt today, what you accomplished, as well as any frustrations you felt. Allow your hand to write, without listening to argument from you mind.
  29. Buy new socks and underwear for yourself. There is nothing in the world like the feel of new undergarments on your skin, and fresh, not-yet-stretched-out socks on your feet.
  30. Write a poem. It doesn’t need to make sense. It doesn’t have to rhyme. Tap into your creativity and just write.
  31. Go to the local garden store and buy at least four different types of herbs and an herbal garden pot. (It should be a few feet tall with small openings along the sides where each separate herb can be planted). You could choose basil, oregano, mint, cilantro, rosemary, or any others you use on a regular basis. Plant your herbs and allow them to flourish. Using fresh cut herbs from your own garden makes your homemade recipes divine.
  32. Think. Just sit quietly and reflect on your life. What would you do differently if you had the opportunity? What things do you love about your life now, at this very moment? Is there anything you would change? Maybe it’s not too late…