I have this belief that there used to be boundaries between work and home; between boss/employee and family. That there used to be space to take a deep breath and let go for a minute. That most jobs did not require one to be on-call nonstop. Perhaps this perception is erroneous. Perhaps it’s a notion I picked up from thirty to fifty year old sitcoms. Perhaps childhood memories aren’t as sharp as they use to be and I was just too young to be aware of any work-related activities intruding on my parents’ family time. But it is still there- this notion in my head that “back in the day” the work day actually ended; that we could put down our tools and go home to rest for a bit before returning to the assorted tasks at hand.
As a young Army lieutenant, my peers and I joked that mobile phones and email were the worst things to ever happen to our work place. I’m not joking anymore. Don’t mistake me for a completely puritanical technophobe. I own a smartphone & a Chromebook, have social media accounts, live in a wifi-enabled house, etc.– heck, here I am blogging, editing, & project weaving in a digital collective that publishes content every single day. I multi-task shamelessly, answer emails at all hours, and work my work in and among social & familial activities. I am absolutely guilty of what I am writing to protest against today.
Should I be doing these things? Are doing these things in the best interest of body & soul?
No. I’m just going to go ahead and put that right out there. In my opinion, no. The never-ending work/school day, the implied requirement that one be electronically accessible at all hours, the expectation that you do all this AND spend time with family/friends AND actively participate in your community (faith-based, or otherwise) means that we live in a constant physical & spiritual fight-or-flight state, burning out our adrenals & our chakras in record time.
In the spiritual arena we talk a lot about connecting– to the Divine in various forms, to the Self, to the Earth, etc. But what about DIS-connecting? This concept seems to consistently be painted in a negative light. Feeling disconnected seems to primarily be a bad thing, a sign of some sort of pathology. And even when it’s portrayed more positively, it’s usually implied that you’ll be connecting with something else instead. For example, going camping to disconnect from work seems to come with the expectation that one will connect with nature, instead.
But could disconnect possibly become a potentially important spiritual practice for our lifetimes? I’m not talking about squeezing even more mindfulness meditations, yoga sessions, novenas, or full moon rituals into an already overloaded schedule. I’m talking about the radical notion of pulling back and DISconnecting everywhere completely all at once, if only for a finite period of time.
Oooh…. Hear that? Hear the voices in your & my heads that just immediately started listing all the reasons why this is a completely impossible, impractical, unnecessary, absurd, ridiculous notion? Sense the gigantic mountain of resistance to this idea that just sprung up in front of us? See the mental to-do lists unfurling as Exhibit A for why this is not only impossible, but a downright dangerous notion? We have responsibilities. We have people counting on us. We have to get paid. We have to care-give. We have to keep going. Disconnection is just not an option. Right?
But maybe, just maybe, we could begin to make it a slightly more viable option with small acts of disconnection here and there.
For me, this looks like lying on my floor for five minutes. I can’t take credit for this genius notion– my chiropractor actually recommended it to me. But in the era of constant work, constant self-improvement, constant commitment, constant care-giving, constant communicating, constant demand for connection, (and on, and on), lying on my floor for five minutes right now seems like an act of total rebellion.
What might a small, personal rebellion of disconnection look like for you?
Kate Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a somewhat nomadic American, homeschooling her children with the world as their classroom. She holds a BA from Tulane University, where she studied Economics, International Relations, & Religious Traditions. Kate is a presenter for Red Tents & women’s retreats. She also hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, facilitates labyrinth rituals, and leads workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics.