Teachings and Intentions

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According to the Jewish calendar, each month begins on the new moon and is a time for learning about the wisdom of that month and setting an intention. Each month has attributes and characteristics that often correspond to the season. The month of Av falls at the height of summer in the northern hemisphere and can be a difficult month. The holiday of Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av) commemorates the destruction of the Temple and many terrible things in history. For many, the three weeks leading up to Tisha B'Av are considered a time of mourning. However, the energy of the month shifts on the full moon as we celebrate Tu B'Av (the 15th of Av) or the closest thing to Jewish Valentines Day when matches were made. It may feel like a roller coster of emotions as we move from brokenness to wholeness, destruction to love. Notice your energy and emotions.

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In honor of the summer solstice, I offered a Summer Refresh Art and Yoga retreat on June 22 at the Center for Mindful Living. Here is a recap of some of the tools I shared for keeping calm and cool when the heat of summer feels like it's at full blast. Let me know if any of these tips have helped you or if you have other practices.

  • Pranayama (yogic breathing) called Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing. If you need a refresher, check out this video from Yoga with Adrienne (I love her yoga videos as well - great for practicing at home and special topics). This is great for relaxing or before you meditate or practice yoga. It is also especially good if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. It can also help clear sinuses, deepening the breath and support immunity. Try it for 5-10 minutes and see how you feel. Even just closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths to let the body, mind, and breath settle can be so helpful.
  • Restorative and Gentle Yoga is grounding, relaxing, calming and cooling to the body. This is great to practice at any time, but especially in the summer when it is best to avoid hot yoga or higher-intensity yoga. You can utilize pillows and blankets you have at home and experiment with what poses feel good. Even a few minutes on your mat to move the body, lubricate the joints and match breath with movement can be great for you and support flexibility. Check out these resources from Yoga Journal that you can do at home.
  • Essential Oils - these are natural plant and herb essences that are used for aromatherapy, healing ailments, and to support your overall health and wellbeing. Some are invigorating and some are relaxing, and others have specific benefits and uses. I shared frankincense (all powerful, healing, and good before prayer or meditation), lavender (de-stress), peppermint (cool down, lowers fever, aids digestion), tangerine (fresh citrus, pick me up), and breathe (opens the sinuses). You can learn more at Doterra.com or ask me any questions. If you are interested in buying some essential oils there are two brands I recommend: Doterra and Young Living. Those are two reputable and respected companies that produce high quality essential oils. But don't be surprised that they aren't inexpensive. I purchased a Family Essentials Kit (10 bottles) from Doterra in 2012 and it hasn't run out yet. If you are interested in exploring these more or have questions, feel free to let me know. You can also find less expensive brands at Whole Foods and many other retailers including TJ Maxx but I cannot vouch for the other brands.
  • Rose Water Spray can be nice in the summer for a refresh and to keep skin hydrated. You can even find it at Trader Joe's.
  • Ayurveda - this is the sister science to yoga and it's all about self-care that is right for your body, your energy, your personality and your dosha (your mind-body-energy constitution). Learn more on the Banyan Botanical's website or let me know if you are curious or have questions. Additionally, each season is associated with a dosha. Summer is connected with Pitta, the dosha associated with fire. It's good to be mindful of this in the summer when the natural Pitta in all of us can be exacerbated.
  • Eat cooling, refreshing foods, especially seasonal fruits and veggies to balance the season of Pitta. You might find your appetite is different in the summer. See how you feel increasing season, cooling, water-filled fresh foods and minimizing hot, heavy foods. Watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, cucumbers, etc.
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Shabbat Shalom! We had a wonderful day at the Summer Refresh Art and Yoga retreat. Hope you have a relaxing weekend.

Iyar New Moon.jpg

According to the Jewish calendar, each month begins on the new moon and is a time for learning about the wisdom of that month and setting an intention. Each month has attributes and characteristics that often correspond to the season.

Iyar is a month of healing as the name of the month is an acronym in Hebrew for "Ani Adonai Rofecha" meaning "I am G*d your healer." What kind of healing do you need this month? As you take a few deep breaths, consider your mind, body and spirit. How can you nourish each of those parts of yourself? What kind of self-care can you do to support your own healing? Who can you ask for support in your healing journey?

Sivan New Moon.jpg

According to the Jewish calendar, each month begins on the new moon and is a time for learning about the wisdom of that month and setting an intention. Each month has attributes and characteristics that often correspond to the season.

Sivan is a month of warmth, springtime, flowers blooming, and unification (which makes it a popular time for weddings). We also celebrate the holiday of Shavuot this month and commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. As you notice the flowers and trees, the weather becoming warmer, take some deep breaths. What is the Torah (instruction) you want to receive? What teaching do you need in your life now? Breathe deeper and you make space in your heart to receive.

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Happy New Moon of Tammuz! I’ve been teaching about Rosh Chodesh (the new moon) for over a decade and it’s still one of my favorite spiritual practices! According to the Jewish calendar, each month begins on the new moon and is a time for learning about the wisdom of that month and setting an intention. Each month has attributes and characteristics that often correspond to the season. Tammuz began yesterday and in the northern hemisphere is a month of heat, bright sun, and long days, coinciding with Summer Solstice (June 21). Notice when the heat arises for you this month. Maybe that heat will light a fire in your belly or maybe it will burn you. Be careful. Breath and try to balance the intensity with cooling, refreshing practices. Sending blessings for peace and relaxation, renewal and creativity.

What’s your intention, hope or wish for this month?

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When I served as the rabbi in Fairbanks, Alaska, during the summer of 2011, I experienced my first midnight sun. It was so bright most nights that I placed tin foil over the window to get some shut-eye before I discovered blackout curtains. But then I came to understand it was a magic time. We'd light candles for Shabbat at a fixed time since sundown was long after we'd gone to sleep. Gardens were lush and friends picked veggies for me at 11pm as a parting gift after a late evening. Sometimes we'd stay up late just talking after art night or finishing the last of the moose meat that had fed a family through the winter and spring. We made the most of the golden light of the never-setting sun. Summer Solstice, the longest day and latest sunset was a thing to celebrate. But in Alaska, I also learned that Summer Solstice was bittersweet. It was the turning point in the summer. After Solstice we knew the evening light would grow shorter and eventually the sunset would come a little earlier each night thereafter.

So my questions for you this summer, wherever you live, are how will you make the most of the light and warmth of summer? How will you savor it? What brings you light and joy and how will you bring that into the rest of your summer days and nights?