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Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Breath of Elul

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."

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 

Cantor Seth Warner

1 comment:

  1. Glad to find that this same Pranayama app is also available in Google Play (Android).