If you’ve ever been on vacation, then you know that moment of bliss. You’ve just arrived at your hotel. You’ve expelled the tension and stress of the travel experience. You take a deep breath, smile and look forward to an entire week of freedom and pleasure.
Sacred time provides you that same feeling of bliss — the sense of freeness, letting go of the tethered connection to your emotional world and experiencing an intoxicating form of freedom.
Thirty minutes a day of it rejuvenates your soul, makes you more forgiving, understanding and hardened against the tension and strain of modern life.
I started this practice two years ago, sporadically at first. I’ve suffered from decades of constant low-grade anxiety. My brief respite of sacred time buys me hours of calm in addition to my thirty minutes of bliss.
We need more bliss in our lives
The constant pressures, stressors, and demands of modern life create an acidic mental state that eats away at your cells one by one. We live in a continuous state of alertness, anxiety, and other harmful stimuli that saps our energy.
Sacred time is the base that neutralizes the acid. It cleans up the toxins of your mental state and allows your inner peace to flourish.
Sacred time is built on solitude.
The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil — Thomas Edison
Solitude is not loneliness
Solitude is the physical state of being alone. Loneliness refers to the unpleasant emotional state from being without friends or family. The two words are related but not the same. We often seek solitude to unwind. We experience loneliness when we lack relationships.
Voluntary solitude provides a multitude of benefits including freedom, creativity, and productivity. Some of the world’s greatest creatives and thinkers produced their best work in periods of solitude — Picasso, Edison, and Thoreau to name a few.
The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude — Aldous Huxley
We’ve lost the ability to feel true solitude
I started hiking in the mid-1990s before the dawn of cell phones. Before my hike, I would tell a friend or family member the trail route and expected time of return. If you don’t hear from me by then, call me. That was the rule back then.
Today, I get cell phone reception throughout my entire hike. I may get calls, texts and the usual temptations of a connected life. I can hike in solitude, but it’s not enough to reach the state of mind I seek.
You cannot experience true solitude in a state of alertness threatened by distractions. The possibility of a text, notification or knock on the door keeps your brain on high alert and disrupts your bliss.
The expectation of constant availability interferes with your ability to disconnect from the world and relax. The allure of social media notifications keeps your mind itching to check just once.
What is sacred time?
Sacred time expands on solitude. You disconnect from the world and engage in something that brings you peace and heightened awareness. Humans once practiced sacred time in abundance. Before the industrial age, we had no choice. We lacked the connectedness and population density of the modern world.
Each advancement in technology chiseled away at our rejuvenation time. In today’s world, you must actively create the conditions to achieve this state of mind.
Sacred time allows you to live life in a bubble. You’re protected from the stressors of the world, allowing your mind and body to rejuvenate.
You need to go beyond the mere absence of others; you need temporary isolation and movement. In periods of solitude we may impose a goal on ourselves: write a specific number of words, come up with a bunch of ideas or create something of substance.
Sacred time imposes no production goals. You can take notes as ideas form in your mind, and they will, but treat that as a side-effect of the experience.
How To Achieve Sacred Time
Sacred time relies on three principles.
1. Total solitude — Remove yourself from the presence of others. Aim for temporary isolation. If you must cross the path of other people, there should be no expectation of interruption.
2. Eliminate the possibility of a disruption — Put your phone on airplane mode. If you stay indoors, carve out time when you’re certain nobody will interrupt you.
3. Movement — Engage in a light physical activity you enjoy.
It sounds simple, and it is, but our environment makes it hard to achieve.
Put it into practice
Carve out thirty minutes a day to yourself
Work around your schedule. If you can’t find thirty minutes during the day, wake up early. Do your thirty minutes when nobody expects anything of you.
Pick an activity
Choose an activity with movement but avoid anything physically exhausting. Walking, hiking and recreational cycling serve this purpose. Modest physical exertion allows your brain to roam free.
I prefer to walk. It’s simple, safe, and the health benefits are well known. Unlike other light physical activities like yoga or stationary cycling, nobody can knock on your door and demand your time.
The mere possibility that someone can interrupt you impacts your flow and peace of mind. You want to eliminate that little voice in the back of your mind wondering if you’ll be able to get through your thirty minutes without an intrusion.
Set your phone to airplane mode.
Yes, I know it’s painful. You won’t be reachable. Sheltering yourself from the outside world feels scary. No doubt you’ll suffer from FOMO the first few days. In a short time, you’ll look forward to your temporary invisibility.
You can put on headphones, but you cannot listen to news, politics or anything controversial. You can only achieve the ideal state of mind through silence, music or fiction.
Avoid heavily populated trafficked areas
You might find that challenging in a dense city, but even NYC has its pockets of isolation like Central Park.
Begin your period of sacred time
If you follow the above guidelines, you’ll start your thirty-minutes free from the pressures, demands, and expectations of the outside world. You’ll finish your thirty minutes feeling recharged, ready to attack the rest of your day.