This year is Shmita year, it is the sabbatical year in the seven year agricultural cycle when you let the land rest.
More than rest. You let the land lie fallow. Lie fallow.
That phrase used to feel desolate to me, almost a lonely sort of emptying, but now it feels luscious, vital, thrilling.
What happens when I enter — consciously, purposefully — into a state of intentional not-producing? What happens when I choose the experience of letting my fields lie fallow?
This is what pulls me right now, this and everything else about Shmita.
It’s for releasing.
Shmita literally means RELEASE.
It is a whoosh let go let go sort of word.
Whoosh! Let go, let go.
I am in the desert, and this is what I am doing: letting things go.
Releasing and recovering.
To let land lie fallow is to let it rest and replenish, to be left unsown for a period of time in order to restore its fertility.
During this time, all agricultural activity is forbidden by halakha (Jewish law). You can do things like weeding or trimming — clearing out — but only as a necessary preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or other plants.
Debts are let go of.
It is a time of emptying and replenishing, of emerging and receiving, easing and releasing, echoing and returning.
It is a releasing to refill (bountiful harvests are promised to those who observe the Shmita), but that is not the point of the releasing, as far as I’m concerned.
The releasing needs to happen because the releasing needs to happen. The plentitude that comes back to the land is a result of the releasing, not the reason to release.
Twenty-first century releasing.
In these decidedly non-biblical times, our fields are — for most of us –metaphorical, internal.
And yet here we are, overworked, overcooked, overwhelmed, overdrawn, endlessly plugged in, exhausted.
We live in a culture that is all about producing, output, productivity, ass in chair, making stuff happen, get it done. We get so disconnected from what our fields actually need.
If you want to do more thinking about Shmita as a concept, and possible implications for us, I would direct you to this piece from Hazon, which means vision.
The Hazon piece also references six qualities: Sova (enoughness), Hodaya (thankfulness), Revaya (plenty), Hesed (loving-kindness), Puriyut (fertile), Otzar (treasury and shared resources). It’s almost a compass, so if anyone else feels like playing with that, I am adding Ahava (love) and Shlemut (wholeness).
And while I hesitate to link to HuffPo, a place I find exhausting, my interest was piqued reading about how some Jews are giving up things like Facebook, Amazon, apps, news and more as a modern experiment in Shmita year, finding their own way to live out both the practice and the intention of releasing, sustainability, wholeness.
Releasing, sustainability, wholeness.
I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past several months about what Shmita could look and feel like for me.
God knows it’s necessary. I’ve been doing this Fluent Self work since March of 2005. That’s just about ten years of asking my fields to produce.
The thing is, I like producing. What we are doing here feels tremendously vital. It also actively makes use of my superpowers: building creative spaces and culture for intentional play, infusing them with spaciousness, permission and sovereignty.
And given this world of ours, this world of go go go that seems to be fueled on guilt, shame and pushing, this world where the default choice is not to be conscious or aware, I think what we are doing here is both necessary and deeply subversive.
So I’ve been looking at what reconfigurations need to be made in my business, how I can change how I work/play so I don’t burn out.
Asking over and over again: What is needed here? What do I know about this? What do I really know if I’m being completely honest with myself?
What do I know?
1) Resting does not require a reason.
Or at least, it shouldn’t require a reason. I would like to be able to remember this.
Right now I rest when I reach my end point. When my fields are already done.
Resting to recover is a good reason, a very legitimate reason, and I don’t want it to be my reason anymore.
I need healthier cycles that are grounded in sovereignty and self-fluency, anchored in truth-love.
2) My body is telling me that we are done.
These last three years have been rough, it is just now occurring to me that this may or may not be related to having plowed through — if you will excuse the agricultural pun — the first seven years without pausing.
One of the things that has been made very clear to me over the past five weeks of Operation Tranquility Recovery (Magic!) is this:
I have reached the point of beyond worn out. My body has made it very clear that it doesn’t have more to give.
I can keep pushing and trying to make stuff happen, and my body will go on strike and I will need to rest and heal. Or I can skip the part about pushing and go straight to the “rest and heal” option, but either way resting and healing is the new game plan.
3) Rest, space, time, quiet.
That’s what I need. Preferably away from the endless noise of the internet. And definitely a break from being immersed in the day to day work of systems, chocolate shop drama.
I want to find out what my fields want to produce, what I want to write about, what I want to be doing and experiencing in this life, but in order to get there, I need this Shmita period of releasing.
4) What does service look like.
Whenever I take time to look at what I care about, something that always comes up as incredibly important to me is being in/of service.
Except now this is going to be how I have to serve.
Taking space and time to figure out what is next is going to be how I serve. Taking care of myself is going to be how I serve. Emptying out and not-producing until I can find a more sustainable way to serve is going to be how I serve.
5) The edge of the circle.
Edge of the circle
When I wrote about Constellations, I talked about how I do my best work at the edges of the circle, holding the circle.
This is very important for me. I am an ally of spaces. Where I excel is at making spaces and experiences special.
This is where I want to be. Not in the center. Not at the front of the room.
What else do I know about what I want?
I want to be a bell: to be at my most resonant. This means doing the things that help me connect to myself (getting on the floor and breathing) and not doing the things that disconnect me (reading everything on twitter).
I want to be a beacon. This is about living by example.
Living in a harmonious congruent way in which I am true to my instincts, my needs and my desires. Demonstrating that it is possible to live like this. Walk the walk, clear the path, document the process, share through being.
I don’t want to teach through teaching, I want to teach through glowing. I want being a beacon to be the primary way that I work. Doing the work, documenting the work, breaking it down where necessary.
I want to protect my energy, my force field, my memory at all costs, this means things like not reading about Gamergate right now, removing sources of toxicity from my life.
What does Shmita look like for me right now?
Even though this current Shmita year began in the fall with the Jewish new year, I am going to begin mine at the end of February, which is when I embark into the year in my business.
I am going to devote this year to releasing and letting go, in all forms. Not just releasing. Easing and releasing. Allowing the releasing to be a softening into.
Releasing: Clearing out my space, my home, my closets, saying goodbye to everything that is no longer harmonious or congruent.
Releasing: Grieving what needs to be grieved.
Releasing: Getting quiet. Time to honor the decisions being made (as Bryan puts it), instead of forcing decisions or making decisions based on what I think other people want from me.
My plan. Trusting and laughing.
If you’re currently panicking about the thought of the blog going away, breathe freely. The blog is not going away. This is where I process and reflect, how I empty and replenish. I still plan on being here.
I am also going to continue to spend time with my (private) online community, now entering its seventh year, though it is getting a new name, a new look and a new focus. More about this soon.
And other than that, I am going to rest and release. I am not clear yet how this is sustainable in terms of, you know, money and rent and real life things like that, and yet I am so very clear that doing anything else is not sustainable, so I am letting a possible plan for this emerge.
I will also be renting out half of my house as well as embarking on a year of intentional Not Spending, and will write more about this as I go.
And practicing trust, because what is crazier than not planting, not producing? How were my ancestors brave enough to let their fields go? Fallow sounds like barren, not fertile. And yet fallow is the answer.
It is deeply counter-intuitive, and so it requires trusting and laughing. That’s what I’m starting with.
Play with me.
I would love warmth, support and enthusiasm about Shmita, as a concept or more specifically my experiments with it.
You are welcome to share anything that was sparked for you, or do your own processing about rest and releasing, fallow fields, what this might look like for you, anything you’re working on.
And you can laugh with me about how I have been thinking about this biblical practice for the past four months, but it took — yes — forty days and forty nights of wandering the desert, the desert of California and Nevada that is, to get to the point where I can say out loud that this is what I want and need.
The way commenting works here: we make sure we have safe space through the practice of not giving each other advice or telling anyone how to be or how to feel.
We all have our stuff, we’re all working on our stuff, it’s a process. We meet ourselves and each other with patience, warmth, love, to the best of our abilities.
I have a heart full of appreciation for everyone who plays here, everyone who reads. It is vulnerable and scary to talk about what I really want and what I really know, and knowing I can do this with you is a big deal, even if I have to take a deep breath and remember this every time I post. ♡