Awake in the World

In Europe, four weeks of summer vacation are common. Families and friends take off to mountains and seas to relax and renew from the long periods of work. Good food and fine wines mingle with good company to create memorable moments.

The Italians have an expression to describe this time of non-activity – dolce farniente. Literally translated it means, “sweet do-nothingness.” It’s an expression understood and adopted throughout Europe and a way of living in the summer that invites and accepts periods of just simply being.

U.S. culture worships productivity. We measure outcomes. Gross domestic product (GDP) and Gross national product (GNP) both focus on output, on producing. But everyone and everything requires periods of rest. Nature sets the example. After the intensive growth periods of the spring and summer comes the fall harvest followed by a period of quiet. Leaves drop away and the plant life in Northern climes takes a break. It sleeps only to awaken with renewed vigor in a few short months. But beneath the surface the earth restores itself, trees renew and buds begins to reform.

Farmers who try to push the land too much by keeping it constantly planted in crops know that the soil becomes depleted. The earth cannot continually be emptied of nutrients by constant growth. It requires compost and periods of rest. It needs a breather.

Today take some time to be a human being. We end up so often in production mode that we have become human-doings and we hardly realize there’s another way. So for today, make some time to simply stop. Become quiet and observe what happens. You may find it hard to sit still and feel an urge to get up and go work some more – but don’t. Activity is often a form of laziness that prevents us from doing the real inner work and facing ourselves. For now, just be. Observe your reactions. The longer and more often you can simply “be” with yourself, the more you will become your own best friend.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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