Shabbat, in its direct Hebrew translation, means to "cease" or "rest". The purpose of this weekly event is for observers to refrain from work activities and to engage in restful pursuits to celebrate the seventh day of the week in the Jewish tradition. The ritual of Shabbat begins every Friday night at sundown and continues into Saturday evening, a 25-hour observance for participants to disengage from their bustling schedules in order to refocus their attention back to themselves and to those around them. Regardless of one’s faith or beliefs, everyone can benefit from the values of Shabbat in terms of devoting time on a weekly basis to disconnecting from the digital world, dedicating time for loved ones and practicing mindfulness.
A defining hallmark of Shabbat is the Friday night dinner, in which participants spend quality time with friends and family over an evening to express gratitude. The Sabbath meal is typically preceded by the reciting of kiddush, the sanctification of Shabbat over wine -- in the Jewish tradition, wine is a symbol for joy. Joy, for me, is being able to serve my loved ones with my home-cooked meals and to host dinner parties to welcome new friends and deepen existing relationships. As with those who observe Shabbat, for me these regular home dinners are a source of comfort and feel like the purest way to share ideas and bring communities together to create special memories in one’s home.
Traditionally, the use of electronics are limited, or refrained from entirely, during Shabbat, an exercise that we could all benefit from. We live in an increasingly over-connected society, where one’s every action is communicated. There are numerous studies that point to a link between anxiety and perpetual digital connectedness. As an entrepreneur, I am inundated with daily communication and the pressure of staying accessible 24/7, for my team and business partners, can often feel overwhelming. The idea of having a day of rest where one gets back in touch with life at a normal pace and spends time offline feels like the ideal medicine to combat the stress and anxiety of perpetually being on-call.
By disconnecting from the world, Shabbat inspires us to be more mindful and appreciative of the present moment. Everyone’s practice of mindfulness is unique; mindfulness is an intimate relationship you have with yourself in your journey to self-discovery and reflection. I observe mindfulness by meditating every morning before I begin my day. This ritual helps me to disengage from external stimuli momentarily, in order to establish mental clarity and express gratitude for everything in my life, from the smallest things that brighten my day to the constant sources of comfort that I rely on daily -- such as my friends and family.
Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, there are values from Shabbat that we can all incorporate into our lives.
Disconnecting digitally, cooking a special meal for loved ones, or utilizing a quiet moment for self-reflection, there are many ways to become present and to express gratitude for the rare, quiet oasis in our busy lives. By creating and embracing those moments of presence, you may even surprise yourself with new possibilities. For example, you might discover a new hobby, stumble upon a new book, rekindle a relationship with an old friend, or learn something new about yourself. Whatever the motivation is, it is important to find some time in your busy schedule to take pause and mentally recharge.
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