Originally Published on Chabad.org
It was about a year ago. I was caught in traffic on one of Toronto’s main streets on my way home from work, and we weren’t just moving slowly, we had stopped altogether. I’d already finished most of the items on my work to-do list for that day, but by this hour I was more focused on another to-do list. I was heading home to respond to the clients in my online therapy job. Since I had been working for two different agencies at the time, I’d given up my morning exercise routine and was hoping to fit in a quick date with my treadmill that evening. I probably also needed a haircut, my laundry needed folding, and there were emails and text messages still waiting to be answered.
In recent years, there’s been a popular rise in the practice of Mindfulness—a lifestyle which teaches us to be present in the moment, to calm ourselves by focusing only on the here-and-now, shutting out the excess noise and constant rush of our daily lives. Being mindful of ourselves and the moment we’re in allows us to take a break from constantly analyzing and judging our pasts and anticipating (and worrying about) our futures. It allows us to experience reality solely for what it is and not how we think it should be.
What practicing the art of Mindfulness can do to our day, observing Shabbat already does for our week. From early in the book of Genesis and throughout many of Judaism’s key texts, it’s clear that we humans were created to work, be creative, and use our talents and abilities to transform the world we share. For six days of the week, we’re supposed to make to-do lists. We’re born to advance and strive to further our potentials. But, as much as G‑d calls on us to engage with the world in which He placed us, He also calls on us to abstain from creating.