Painting (copy): Jan Aronson, The Bronfman Haggadah

It’s been a year since our lives were turned upside down. Now we’re in the opening days of a new normal. That means many of us have to find our way back from loneliness, anxiety, perhaps grief and maybe some unwanted pounds.

Of course, everyone’s experience has been unique to their circumstances, as all of us have been touched by the events of the past year in different ways. While it’s brought renewal and growth to some, others have felt the toll of long isolation. A new survey of U.S. adults by the American Psychological Association and The Harris Poll found that 47% of adults have seen their stress rise and 61% experienced undesired weight changes. And overall, Americans are hesitant about the future—regardless of their vaccination status. Nearly half (49%) said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends, whether they’re vaccinated or not.

But spring is in the air and with the vernal equinox comes a fresh hope. Passover, Easter, the increasing daylight hours and warmer temperatures bring a sense of vibrancy and color to our world—and hope. Nature’s gifts of delicate greens, seeds and plants feed our soul to help us re-balance, cleanse, bring positive change and healing to our emotional selves.

Perhaps the budding season can also help us find a “new normal” on a personal level and re-engage. Read on for my ideas on achieving optimism, rethinking ways to grow and improving yourself even if things may seem like they’re still a bit out of kilter.

To new beginnings!



Celebrating the Farm: Following Nature’s Balanced Approach

We all want the many benefits that come with better health, from increased energy and heartier immune systems to lower blood pressure to good skin and better mental health. Eating more greens, seeds and plants (as I mentioned above) do all this and more, which is why I was so proud of my sister and brother-in-law, Alice and Trauger Groh, when they established a biodynamic farm in Wilton, New Hampshire in 1986. A biodynamic farm creates its own ecosystem and produces delicious and nutritious vegetables and fruit year-round, focusing on building healthy relationships between the soil, the plants the animals and humans. And Groh Farm has done a remarkable job producing and selling a large range of seasonally varying lettuces, sprouts, spinach, arugula, mache and many other vegetables that are a wonderful, fresh addition to our winter-to-spring meals. These greens also support an ancient approach to in season eating according to Ayurveda, explained here by Ayurvedic physician John Douillard. It dates back thousands of years, so it’s hard to dispute the evidence and necessity of seasonal eating and nature’s annual cycle of seasonal and circadian balance.

Grow Wild: A Meditation for Self-Growth

Planting a tree, a plant or a seed is an act of optimism. You do it with a sense of trust in the future. You nurture the seed with hope, faith and care, and protect it from the elements. Then you let it grow. Growth happens naturally. You never push something to grow. The proper way to grow is by releasing growth. In the spirit of freedom and self-growth, here’s a meditation to prepare yourself toward your deepest transformation—and grow wild!

Photo: Lois Greenfield

Regaining Balance

The hardest yoga posture you can do is standing on your own two feet! Here are two simple yoga practices that will help you stand strong in your thoughts and actions:

#1 – Samasthiti: Standing Breathing Awareness is a simple but powerful yoga practice that teaches you how to move and breathe while standing firm. Linking your awareness to your breath allows you to experience the deeper benefits of the posture. Take a stand!

#2 – Tadasana: How To Do Mountain Pose and Stand Strong is a practice that helps you sharpen attention by synchronizing your breath with the motion of your body through cross-crawl or contralateral movements. Be stable and strong!

Journaling as a Healing Practice

Journaling isn’t just good for your mental and emotional well-being, it can also impact your physical health. According to psychotherapist F. Diane Barth—expressing your thoughts and emotions by writing in a stream of consciousness way can help you reduce stress and strengthen your immunity. Throughout my personal journey of emotional wellness, journaling and self-inquiry have allowed me to reset my mood and clarify unresolved questions and concerns. Read about the benefits below:

Opening Our Doors and Hearts

As we celebrate centuries-old rites of spring, namely Passover and Easter, it’s nice to remember that they have a significant underlying purpose—especially today. Both holidays are about rising to a new life, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out pre-pandemic, which resonates with us as we enter a new life now. And both center around significant repasts with family and friends. I can cite the beauty in the Passover custom of leaving our front doors open so the prophet Elijah can join our celebration. Elijah represents a redeemed world—a world free of racism, slavery, cruelty, poverty and greed. The wine we put out for him in a cup symbolizes that joyful world—a world we are commanded to build. Elijah also represents the hungry stranger. And while we don’t literally expect strangers to walk through the door, this gesture reminds us to open our hearts to those in need during this holiday season and in the days beyond.

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Bija Bennett brings real-time restoration to all audiences

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