Adar Is For Healing
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, “sickness comes from lack of joy, healing comes from joy.” True story. The month of Adar is cosmically flowing with delight. But, we gotta jump in that river and swim. Unlike other months, where we heal ourselves through connection to challenging emotions like grief, repentance, and anger, this month we heal by making it our business to have F - U - N.
Compared to 10-day long apology binges, finding joy sounds like it’s nbd, right? In truth, it’s actually a muscle to strengthen. As we know from our teachings, we can block ourselves, knowingly and unknowingly, from all this joy.
Modern science and the study of Gelotology back up what the Rebbe knew hundreds of years before any scientists were studying it. While many negative emotional responses are confined to specific regions of the brain, laughter circuits run through many regions. So, if you’ve experienced trauma of almost any sort (newsflash: we all have), your best medicine is a deeeeeep belly laugh.
MoT brain researcher Richard Davidson was one of the first people to study happiness. He discovered that happiness was not just a vague fuzzy feeling, but a physical state that could be deliberately induced. Davidson found that people on the higher end of the happiness spectrum produce 50% more antibodies than the average flu shot, and significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, colds and upper respiratory infections. If that’s not an argument to get happy, we don’t know what is.
If you’re nerding out on all of this, dive deeper into the studies of modern scientists and the lessons of our ancient teachers. If you’re struggling to find happiness within yourself, get curious. Investigate what brings you joy. Question what brings you down. This is the month: discover, to tap into, and bump up the joy.
Adar is the month we search and destroy the Yetzer Hara, or evil inclinations of the mind. During Adar, we remember humans were put on this earth not to suffer, but to experience and spread joy. Right!
During Adar, our sages advise us to come out and play, seek humor, and peace out of our analytical minds. This is not to say that we won’t experience pain, struggle, and hardship during Adar, and over the course of our lives. The icky bits are important parts of being human too. The trick is to understand all of the tough moments as steps on the journey towards our true purpose: love. Adar brings us face to face with these dualities.
In the Purim story we’ve got evil Haman and righteous Mordechai and Esther. Throughout this month’s Torah portions too, we encounter and contrast Yetzer Hara while striving for joy.
Like when a high and a low-pressure weather system collide to make a storm, the headbutt of “evil inclination” and the quest for joy can produce an internal, spiritual storm of self-doubt.
If we lean too deep into this doubt, we get all sucked into self-judgment, self-criticism, and become vulnerable to depression, which in turn can make us sick, and incite us to harm others and ourselves. This doubt is anti-Divine; it warps our minds, leading us to believe that “things “just happen” and that life is “random.”
Nonono — these moments present us with the opportunity. Each one contains the lessons we need to learn.