BY DR. TERRY SEGAL Terry Segal
Rosh Chodesh Iyar began on April, 30. What a perfect time for our featured Enchanted Key No. 9-Nature.
Typically, in the month of Nisan, we recite the blessing over flower-bearing trees. If those trees happen to bloom earlier in Adar, or later into Iyar, then we recite it accordingly. Whenever this is done, we must be sure that the fruit of the tree has not begun to grow. We acknowledge the flower with a blessing.
This year in Georgia, judging from our recent pollen-laden yellow cars and patio furniture, it seems that the trees began blooming late, at the end of Nisan. Do you remember our trash-talking inner critical Dragons? They would revel in complaints about allergies and having to hose down the deck again. I invite you to tame those Dragons and focus on the beauty of renewed life, following our harsh winter.
Appreciation of the natural world unlocks our senses. Open to the subtle distinctions that nature offers us. The smell of rain is not a single scent. Contrast the air of an early morning mist in spring, cool and tingling our nostrils with freshness, versus a late afternoon downpour in fall, where the air is thick, causing damp leaves to release their earthy, muskiness.
Look at a grouping of trees and notice the various shades of green. How many blues wash the sky? Engage all of your senses: listen to enchanting birdsong; watch ducklings glide across the pond; literally, take time to stop and smell the roses.
Taste spring. For me, there is nothing like that first bite of matzah when Passover arrives. Matzah ball soup on Passover tastes different than the same recipe of matzah ball soup served on Rosh Hashanah.
Connection to nature is built into our traditions. To close Shabbat, we look for three stars in the night sky. During Sh’vat, the New Year of the Trees, sap awakens and the age of trees must be calculated for tithing. It’s a time to plant new trees.
We acknowledge life cycle passages with planting trees in Israel. When we visit the gravesites of our loved ones, we bring enduring rocks or stones. During Sukkot we build temporary dwellings and sleep under the star-lit sky. Rainbows are special.
This month, as we tend to our physical gardens, we need to remember to weed our souls and create a clearing that allows in light. Kabbalah teaches that Iyar is all about illumination and light. It’s a time to acknowledge our physical cravings, yearnings and desires while cleansing, spiritually, in preparation for receiving the Torah during Shavuot.
There are numerous ways to connect with nature. We can take walks and observe wildlife or marine life. We can birdwatch, go on hikes and picnics, make rubbings from tree barks, catalog the names of plants or grow herbs to flavor our meals. Nature becomes something larger than ourselves, when our own problems seem to be magnified.
“Grounding,” or “earthing” is a practice of restoring our electrical connection to Mother Earth. Our shoes keep our feet from coming in contact with the ground and once we become adults, it’s rare that we actually lie down on the earth. One exception is at the beach. Earth is a huge container of negatively charged free electrons. The cells of our bodies aren’t able to balance the positive charges that bombard us in our technological world.
The easiest way to practice grounding is to go outside, with bare feet or hands and press them to the earth or grass for 15 minutes or so. You can also immerse your body in seawater or a mineral-rich lake. Gardening connects us to the Earth as well.
Often, we attribute the restorative quality of vacations to the break from daily life when, really, we are reaping the benefits of grounding by bobbing in the ocean, lying on the beach or experiencing nature in some way.
Some of the health benefits of grounding are: improved immune functions, digestion, sleep circulation, rapid healing of injuries, stability in biological rhythms, quicker recovery time following athletic exertion, as well as reduced inflammation, stress, anxiety and electro-sensitivity.
All of this is provided for us, for free, by Hashem. “Alef-yud-resh: I am G-d Your healer.”
Meditation Focus: In what ways can you engage with the beauty of the earth during this month of Iyar and all year? Put these opportunities to restore your soul in nature on your calendar.