The Jewish people love to mark time... Our calendar teaches us to - this month, the month of Elul, comes every year, spanning some part of the month of August. I am always taken aback at how quickly it always seems to come. Am I a last minute person? Maybe I am. I'm always surprised when I pass by a Hallmark store in the mall in April and see Mother's Day cards; or when shopping in the late summer to see clothes that would perfect for autumn while it's still hot out.
Our calendar during the month of Elul is the tick-tock of our internal clocks reminding us to focus inward - on ourselves and our deeds; on our thoughts and our actions; on our troubles and problems. Coupled with the beginning of school, this may seem link a daunting task at a terrible time of year.
But how do we pull ourselves away from the craziness and business of everyday life - especially with all of these really important distractions? Work, school, home, kids... these are all more than legitimate reasons for us to put off simply... being... breathing... focusing inward.
I recommend two tactics to help give you the space for youself. (A common phrase in financial planning courses is to "pay yourself first," as an incentive to save for retirement. I recommend the same, "give yourself space first."
- Find the time to breathe. Your breath is a critical part of your ability to relax. When you are conscious of it, you can control it in such a way that allows maximum oxygenation of your blood. If you're an iPhone user, try this app: Pranayama. It will help you regulate your breathing and challenge you to breathe systematically. Mediate while doing it - it's very relaxing.
- Listen to The Magic Mirror. Amy Camie, harpist, makes available for a fee her CD that uses improvisatory music to inspire relaxation, deep-brain stimulation and healing. It's proven to increase bloodflow and has been used in cancer treatment. Amy will be with us during Yom Kippur for a meditation room and Healing service on the afternoon of Yom Kippur.