I was impressed with a recent idea offered by a man named Rabbi Abraham Joshua Hershel. He wrote about his realization that the Shabat (Sabbath) is the temporal equivalent to a physical temple. We all have our cathedrals in life. We have special places that we retreat to for solace and escape from reality. For some it is the gym. For others, it takes the more formalized constructs of the church, synagogue or temple. We separate ordinary time and space from our sacred retreat for our physical and mental wellbeing because it makes us feel whole. Rabbi Hershel makes the case for having a routine in which we regularly retreat to a cathedral in time.
We all go through periods in our life when we are overcome with deadlines, obligations and other worldly responsibilities. This is an inevitable reality that we all must overcome.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have some sort of obligatory down-time embedded in to our lives. The human will is fragile and subject to deviation from that which we may know is in our best interest. This is most evident in our dietary choices. There are very few people who don’t know that overconsumption of sweets, snacks, sugary drinks and alcohol is detrimental to our health yet, we find responsible indulgence to remain an ever-present struggle.
We can not rely on willpower alone.
I’ve become fascinated with the discovery of many health-building practices buried within many of the doctrines and mandates of the world’s religions.
It is easy for the non-observer to mock such seemingly absurd religious dietary restrictions and laws. Who in their right mind can be against eating bacon after all? Before we mock, it is important to explore some of the pragmatic reasoning behind the most superficially absurd religious practices.
John Durant is one of the most clear thinkers when it comes to analysis of historical and anthropological
health practices of humans. He is affectionately known as the urban caveman by those of us who have been reading his early works. He studied evolutionary psychology at Harvard and has recently published a book called The Paleo Manifesto – Ancient Wisdom for lifelong health
Durant isn’t a particularly religious man but he does well to acknowledge the life-building and health-sustaining practices of such mundane practices of personal hygiene, proper nutrition and mental/emotional balance. His attention to detail (and the seemingly trivial) reminds us all that we should take nothing for granted when it comes to the potential to contribute in any direction to our health and longevity. We often look to the cold empirical evidence that has been wildly successful at keeping us safe from infectious disease and high incidences of miscarriage but we are in danger of neglecting the more subtle and time-tested health practices that may be in danger of getting thrown out with their scriptural bathwater.
So many great practical lessons are to be found in the annals of human history. It is our nature to constantly try to reinvent the wheel and progress towards a new paradigm in our evolution. It is important to maintain these cathedrals in time so that we can build upon what is great and spread health and good-will to the collective.
I thank you for reading. Be sure to pick up John’s book (click the picture at the top of this post) and check out his other writings at huntergatherer.com.
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