The need for a secular sabbath

“If you dread a day of rest from the digital world, then you probably need one.” –Sharon Samiento

Most of my daily life is plugged in to technology. I spend a minimum of 10 hours a day working, sitting at a desk, utterly focused on my computer and cellphone. When I’m “off the clock,” many of life’s pleasures also take place in front of screens: writing, reading on a Kindle, watching movies or Netflix, browsing the internet or playing video games.

Such a technology-based life feeds my curiosity — and pays the bills — but when combined with the madness of the news cycle, it can be hell on the body and soul. I don’t breathe normally anymore, in that I have to remind myself to do it, deeply and purposefully, or else the air I consume is shallow. Sitting upright in a chair takes mindfulness; the posture of slumped shoulders is so easy to assume when you’re focused outside of your body.

I crave quietness more than I used to, quietness of environment and of the mind. At least for a little while.

So, I’m going to reclaim a day each week to unplug and decompress. Abby Falik takes a similar secular sabbath. The founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit that channels teenage wanderlust toward social good, recently told the Books of Your Life podcast that the practice had made her more productive in the rest of her life.

Just what will I do with that day? Why, I’ll read, of course, but books in a dead-tree format (paperback and hardcover) rather than an electrical one (audio and ebooks). I’ll bake new recipes instead of just collecting ideas from food blogs. I’ll write letters and poems, stories and novels in longhand; such scribblings can easily be transcribed into the computer later for editing purposes. And, I’ll do my best to get outside more. As a writer, it’s so easy to become homebound and isolated. Yet inspiration comes from outside forces as well as imaginative ones.

Trying new activities, exploring unknown places and generally saying yes to non-techy adventures will, I hope, make me a little less stressed and a lot more inspired.

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