Thursday, September 22, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
One of the fascinating parallels between Classical Chinese Medicine, going back at least, over 2000 years to the time of the Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic), and Traditional Jewish Medicine, is the importance that both traditions give to emotions. With specificity, by treating organ or channel imbalances, a skilled practitioner is also able to help balance and resolve severe emotional problems as well, whether depression, anger, mania, worrying and over-thinking, fear or fright. However often, when we are confronted with the unexpected, we just don't have the tools, or the presence of mind, to do anything constructive, and we get stuck, despite our best intentions.
Getting unstuck requires a sensitivity and a realization that we are in a bad place and are disconnected from what really matters: ourselves, our environment and our Maker. The Torah teaches us that this requires us to listen to the female aspect of our psyches, and by setting boundaries for ourselves, we are able to conquer these destructive emotions, for as the Mishna asks, "Who is the strong person (gibor-meaning the one who masters the trait of gevuva or boundaries)? The one who conquers his inclinations."
But, again, this is easier said than done, particularly in the heat of the battle, for as our sages tell us concerning last weeks Torah Portion: "When you go out to war against your enemy...." This enemy that that the Torah is speaking about is that force which drives us to disconnect from
I want to suggest, therefore, that there are 6 basic things that we can do, when we realize that we are stuck, to reset and reconnect ourselves to the Lifeforce to whom we all depend:
1. Blink. Blinking resets our nervous system by helping to stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system (the "rest and digest" part of the autonomic nervous system). It provides moisture to the eyes, and will usually stimulate #2:
2. Sigh. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches that there is no activity more important that we can engage in than Hisbodedus (speaking to Ha-Shem out loud the way you would speak to a dear friend, giving over your burdens to Him), and an essential component to successful hisbodedus is "krechtzing" or unloading a deep sigh. For as Rabbi Nachman teaches in Likutei Moharan (1, 109): "When you sigh and groan over your unfulfilled yearning for holiness, it causes you to be attached to the ruach (the life-force) of holiness. This is because sighing is drawing breath – which is life itself!"
3. Smile. Smiling brings about some amazing biochemical changes, such as lowering blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, releasing endorphins (the body's natural pain killers) and serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter), and, of course, making us feel happier (even a fake smile!)
4. Drink water. Our bodies, as is well known, are over 2/3 water, but what is not as well known, is how delicate our fluid distribution system is, ( which the Chinese call the San Jiao) and how easy it is to become dehydrated. From my experience, I have found without exception, that those who allow their emotions to get the best of them ALL become dehydrated. Furthermore, dehydration creates a more acid pH, which causes our bodies to break down and become sick.
5. Powernap. Nothing exhausts us more than losing control of our emotions. But there's a wonderful antidote for exhaustion: The powernap! The trick is to not sleep for more than 15 minutes to a half hour, for amazingly, each 15 minutes that we sleep during the day, is worth an hour at night! But always remember to gratefully give over your soul for safekeeping to Ha-Shem, even for 15 minutes.
6. Hope. The Midrash (Braishis Rabba: 98:20) teaches us:
"Rabbi Yitzchok said, 'Anything is possible with hope! Suffering can be released with hope! Sanctifying the Name of Ha-Shem can be achieved through hope! The merit of our forefathers can be tapped to reach Ha-Shem with hope! The spiritual pleasure of the world to come can be achieved with hope!
...Undeserved grace is granted by Ha-Shem with hope! (And) one is granted forgiveness by Ha-Shem with hope!"
Wishing everyone a wonderful new year, a year of hope, and a year when we are able to vigilantly keep an awareness of ourselves, so that our actions cause our friends to smile and our Most Beloved Friend to smile.
Name of Ha-Sh