a modern day Sabbath: learnings from my Sabbatical.

Who knew I was so attached to my job?  (Well, of course, everyone did. It’s all I talk about: how lucky I am to have a career that gives me meaning and brings light to my life.)

Here’s the thing, even though I adore my career as a yoga teacher, I still find myself complaining: ‘I just need a break. Just a few days off, where I don’t have to teach, or check e-mails, or be a manager, or make lesson plans, or take care of my house, or take care of my dog, or be responsible for anyone in any way.’

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see what I mean?  my jobs is THE BEST and sometimes Russell Clive gets to come along!

So, I planned a big summer break in response to this ridiculous complaining.  I planned a full-on three week sabbatical.  It was meant to be a type of Sabbath.

A Sabbath is a day to break the usual routine and to rest.  A Modern-Day Sabbath might be a screen-free day: no iPad to watch The Office, no iPhone to check Instagram, no laptop to update Google Doc Spreadsheets. It may be a ‘I promise not to work’ day: vowing not to check in with the people you manage, avoiding all work e-mails and truly passing the buck on to a colleague hoping desperately they can handle the responsibility.

A Modern Day Sabbath is AWESOME.  For a few hours. And then, for an over-achiever and recovering perfectionist, a Modern Day Sabbath is excruciating.  Real talk: a three week vacation sounded like a good idea, but actually giving up my routine, my control and my responsibility was a struggle.

During my sabbatical, I desperately missed my routined life. I missed teaching my yoga classes.  I missed checking in on my teachers at Westport Yoga and making sure that things were running smoothly. I missed being a part of the BEST HOUR of the day in the lives of my yoga-loving students. Sure, I was teaching at a church camp for high school kids the first week (see previous blog post) but teaching yoga and meditation a mere two hours a day is far below my normal time commitment.

And in this absence of ‘busyness’ my mind was free to wander into doubt, guilt, and fear.  Doubt that taking a three week break was a ‘good’ idea at all. Guilt for taking time off when I could have (should have/would have) been in service to my yoga students. Fear that my worth was diminishing by the second as I sat around on my butt, not working.

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an example of me sitting around, not working. 🙂

What I thought was going to be a vacation turned into a challenging life lesson in discovering and embracing self-worth. I realized how deeply my perception of my self-worth was tied to my contribution to my community… when it should be solely based on the fact that I am made of Light and am worthwhile simply because I am alive. This is a simple fact that I forget… a simple fact that the pursuit and practice of yoga brings me back to.

She may not be a yoga teacher, but writer Brene Brown teaches this same lesson about worthiness and its relationship to living wholeheartedly.

In her book Daring Greatly Brown writes:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.  It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’  It’s going to bed at night thinking. ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging’.”  -B. Brown  

This place of wholehearted living is a difficult space to inhabit.  It is a challenge, but it is also a relief. It is a Sabbath from guilt, shame, fear. It is a vacation from all the thoughts in the heart-mind-citta that discourage living a life of worth.  It can be accessed through meditation.

My favorite Meditation for bringing myself back to a place where I can engage with the world from a place of worthiness is called Aham Prema. (And it’s totally the best.)

Aham Prema means ‘I am Divine Love.’

1. Set your meditation timer for 10 minutes.

2.  Start by bringing awareness to your inhale and your exhale.

3.  Notice how wonderful it is to be alive. Notice your aliveness.

4.  Add your mantra: Aham Prema  On the inhale: Aham.  On the exhale: Prema

5. Notice the relief that washes over you as you sit and encourage yourself to end your meditation feeling a sense of self-worth.

How do you struggle with feeling worthy?  How often do you attribute your self worth to your work?  How do you think yoga can bring you back to remembering your true worth? These are some questions I’m working on answering, too.  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Sabbath,

-lisa

 

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we are so lucky to be ALIVE!

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