Feb 24 2014
As we head into springtime, I ponder.....
How is it that we were born into a culture that promotes constant DOING but frowns upon just BEING?
“Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.”- George MacDonald
When I heard about the term SACRED IDLENESS coined by George MacDonald back in the late 1800’s, I became curious about what statistics are out there regarding the USA’s work habits.
Sadly, I was not surprised to find out that we rank as the NUMBER ONE OVERWORKED DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!
Old MacDonald would give that a big old ‘E-I-E-I-NOOOO!” It took a lot to get to this point – more than I can cover in a blog entry, certainly. But we can benefit from a few minutes contemplating sacred idleness.
The Dalai Lama said, “world peace begins with inner peace.” If this is true, then an individual’s sacred idleness could be the first step in a better world. Think about that: something you do for your own healing could end up healing the whole world!
Down time to recharge and refresh is a crucial part in maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual health in an increasingly busy and chaotic society. I mean, how long can you use your smart phone before it needs recharged? How long can a car go before it needs to be refueled? Are we humans any different from those mechanical things that we so diligently invented in the hopes that we could have more down time? I’d dare say we’re only different in one big way: our energy source is within. We recharge with inner connection and peace.
According to WebMD, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and asthma are just four of many ailments that have a stress component to them. In other words, we can greatly improve the overall quality of our lives through reducing the amount of stress we hold in our bodies. And how do we do that? By creating more sacred down time in our lives, of course!
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
~The Dalai Lama
Check out this scientific article on proven health benefits of down time. I just love it when modern science backs up what the ancients figured out long ago. It’s plain and simple: our brains and bodies require a certain amount of downtime to stay healthy. Easier said than done, of course. It can be especially difficult to get started with a practice of sacred idleness.
Here’s a LITTLE BUDDHA article with 3 steps towards doing just that!
I truly believe that each of us will come to sacred idleness in our own time in our own way. Each of us has to reach that place in our lives when we realize we can do something to improve the situation. I know through my stressful experiences as a front line social worker that I was able to ignore a lot of physical symptoms of stress for a long time before it got the best of me. That is when I found yoga and meditation about 10 years ago. The discipline of a regular practice of any kind (even sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day works grand for some!) has such wonderful benefits.
The more you build a practice, the richer the benefits. And while the benefits are golden, the practice doesn’t have to cost you much at all!
One of my all time favorite ways to practice idleness is FLOATING! I set aside time to go deep within. Let me tell you, what comes up is WAAAAAY more interesting than any TV show or movie than I could ever watch. We forget just how much is inside – that there’s as much infinity inside us as outside. The inner world of each of us holds so much wisdom and energy! It can help us deal with all of the stress that modern society dumps upon us. Whether you take a walk in nature, or sip on a cup of tea, or treat yourself to a candlelit bath, I hope there are many sacred moments in your upcoming days that serve you along your journey!
I remembered the parable I heard about the secret of life that goes something like this….
There was once an argument among the gods over where to hide the secret of life so that men and women would not find it.
One god said: “Bury it under a mountain; they will never look there.”
“No,” the others said, “one day they will find ways to dig up mountains and will uncover it."
Another said: “Sink it in the depths of the ocean; it will be safe there.”
“No,” the others objected, “humans will one day find a way to plumb the ocean's depths and find it easily.”
Finally another said: “Put it inside them; men and women will never think of looking for it there for a long time. By the time they are intelligent enough to discover the secret, perhaps they will also be wise enough to use it properly.”
The benefits of creating Sacred Idleness in your life are many. And I hope you have a wonderful time exploring your authentic self through whatever rituals or practices you develop in your Journey. And if you should need some assistance in establishing them, I am only a call or email away!