Adar I, Week 1

Be Happy—it’s Adar, goes the traditional greeting that welcomes this month.

Hearing this greeting can create the impression that happiness is something we can and should turn on and off with a switch. But our experiences tell us that happiness is much more complicated than that and certainly not something that can be activated on demand.

This first week of Adar Rishon, we ask ourselves with gentle kindness:

What is my relationship with happiness?

Is this a word I use? Is it a word I feel comfortable with?

Do I seek happiness?

Do I feel worthy of happiness?

And we wonder: What makes me happy?

The month of Adar suggests that happiness is the result of discerning and following what is true for us. Happiness is experienced when we let go of what “should” be and open ourselves to what is. Happiness arises as we let go of expectations and meet what is present. Happiness comes and goes. We can encourage it with our awareness. We can call to it with intention. And sometimes it is nowhere to be found.

Exercise: Reflections on Happiness

We begin by asking ourselves:

When were moments that I was happy?

What were the ingredients that helped create these joyful experiences?

We notice how it feels in our bodies to return to these moments of happiness. We might also choose to describe these experiences in writing.

If, as we are asking these questions, we notice the mind creating stories that criticize or judge our experiences, we do our best not to give these thoughts energy and return our attention to the sensations in the body and call to mind a visual image of a joyful moment. If it is difficult for us to call forth a moment or experience of happiness, we acknowledge this and do our best to respond to ourselves with love and kindness.

As the week goes on, we notice and name for ourselves moments of joy. We take notice of how we respond when joy arises. We become aware of the people, situations and conditions that help encourage our joy. And remembering that joy is fuel for the soul, giving us the strength to engage fully with whatever life brings, we ask ourselves:

How can I bring more joy into my life?

Practice: Radical Amazement

Being amazed encourages joy.

We begin each day with the intention that we will see the world through eyes of amazement.

Once a day we notice something that it could be easy to take for granted—our own hands, a cup of coffee, a cloud, the wind—and we pause long enough to see it as a miraculous phenomenon and notice how this feels in our body.

To show you mindfully through the two months of Adar, A Way In presents a series of original teachings from Rabbi Yael Levy. These will guide you week by week through both months, offering intentions, exercises, practices and meditations to help your ride the waves of these times.

These will appear on the website at beginning of each week of Adar I and Adar II, but if you would like to read ahead or engage with them at your own rhythm, we are also very excited to offer an eBook The Two Months of Adar: Time to Align for purchase containing the full two month's worth of Rabbi Yael's Adar teachings. Learn more and purchase the eBook.

We have also prepared a schedule, available on our website, to help you line up the weekly 5779 Adar teachings with 2019 dates.