Early February in the Northern hemisphere, particularly on the East Coast of the U.S. can be a trying time. Day after day temperatures below freezing with short days and long nights. From my time working in a high school, I know that these are the months that students struggle the most. In the world of social change, even our campaigns slow down during this time of year, gathering energy for a burst of activity in the spring or fall.
Here is a tip from Jewish spiritual wisdom for renewing your motivation during these times:
Ratzon is the Hebrew word for motivation, or desire. It is related to the word, Ratz, which means “run.” We run after that which we desire. What is it that you run after? Where does your mind automatically go? I am quick to check my email and see if I received any appreciations or connections I desire; My legs take me automatically to the pantry where I search for salty, oily carbohydrates. Ok, so those aren’t the most positive desires. I’m also excited to learn Torah and will go to my books before doing other tasks. This is a desire I’d like to encourage and strengthen.
The practice is to make an honest assessment of your desires. You don’t need to do anything, you already want these things. Now you are just bringing awareness to what you want. What do you really run after, with you legs or your mind? Choose one thing that you are pleased with and bring more awareness and attention to this desire. Ask – why do I want this? What does it tell me about what is really important to me? What does it say about who I am? Answering these questions can help renew and strengthen the desire that already dwells within you. As you strengthen it, other, dormant motivations awaken. Through this process you can turn dormant ashes into a blazing fire of yearning – for justice, for goodness, for connection, and for healing.
For more on Ratzon see Chapter 2 in Changing the World from the Inside Out.
I wish you all a renewing month as we approach the joy of Purim. I’d love to see you at any of the events this month in Rhode Island, Minneapolis or South Florida listed below. Please forward to friends who might be interested.
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