Rosh Chodesh Adar began at sundown Feb. 24. During the month of Adar, our joy increases. We know that in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is right around the corner. Soon there will be buds on the trees, longer hours of sunlight, birdsong, and the frog chorus will lull us to sleep at night.
Each year during Purim, we joyfully celebrate the time when Queen Esther saved the Jewish people with her mindful courage. But is that enough, in 2020, to increase our joy all month? For most, the answer would be, probably not. So what is? That’s the task I’d like to invite you to explore this month.
According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Formation, Adar’s zodiac sign is Pisces, and wherever we have Pisces in our own chart, it makes us dreamers. Do you consciously dream of being joyful? The Hebrew letter for the month is kuf. This letter dips below the line, urging us to look more deeply within, to see what drags us down and away from joy.
The tribe is Naphtali, which in some translations means, “sweetness to me.” That’s what to consider for Adar, what brings sweetness and joy to your life? The sense is laughter, which in and of itself, increases joy. And finally, the controlling organ is the spleen, which helps to filter blood and plays a part in the immune system. The way we eat, both regarding nutrition and the mindful or mindless style, affects the energy of this organ. It’s important for digestion of food and information that’s processed emotionally.
How do we use this to increase our joy? Let’s extend the meditation focus for our discovery.
Meditation focus: Grab a pen and a sheet of paper and sit in a comfortable position. If you are able to sit on the ground, there are extra perks, but if not, sitting on the floor or a chair is just fine. If you sit on the ground, however, you have the added benefit of receiving “grounding” or “earthing.” More and more clinical studies are being done to demonstrate the positive effects of connecting to Mother Earth and Mother Nature. Grounding appears to have a positive effect on inflammation, cardiovascular disease, muscle damage, chronic pain and mood, on the human body, especially with regard to connectivity between living cells. This process seems to support and restore the body’s natural defenses.
Once in position, take a few deep and cleansing breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, releasing your breath and tension in your body in an audible sigh. Envision your muscles and nerves also letting go of tension as they smooth, lengthen and release.
Set your timer for 10 minutes and write your answers, in list format, to the question, “What brings me joy?” Don’t think about your answers, but write in stream of consciousness fashion, anything and everything entering your awareness that increases your joy.
You might write: my dog, my spouse, my children, grandchildren, best friend, flowers, new shoes, waxing the car, a particular song, restaurant, type of food, name of a specific movie, playing cards with friends, etc. Keep writing for the full 10 minutes, noting if you are struggling to come up with answers or need to run over the 10 minutes.
Then take my 30-day challenge to do one thing each day that increases your joy. Refer to your list and observe which things that increase your joy you haven’t done for a long, long time. Why is that? If there are limitations, what can substitute for that activity?
This is different than just being grateful for one thing each day that brings you joy. This exercise puts you in the action seat of making the joy happen. Don’t be afraid to start a habit of doing this and increasing your joy each day beyond Adar. Keep a running list and add to it. Post it somewhere where you’ll see it often. Then schedule a realistic slot for each activity on your calendar or they will simply remain as intentions and likely not occur. What would you have to let go of to become someone who experiences joy every day?