Making it count: Yesod
There is one day left to count the omer this week. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here are the basics:
The counting of the Omer is a Jewish tradition rooted in the Biblical mitzvah of counting the 49 days between the Jewish holidays of Pesach and Shavuot when the first sacrifices of the barley and wheat offerings were made. The kabbalists of Sefad added their own psycho-spiritual context to it. Each week has a theme and every day of the week, each theme is connected to one of the other six themes and that week’s own theme.
(E.g. Week 2: Theme 2 in the context of Theme 1. Then Theme 2 in connection with itself, then Theme 2 in connection with Theme 3….)
So, 7 weeks, 7 days a week, 7 themes, 7 combinations of 7 themes. This all adds up to 49 reflections over 49 days, with 7 overarching themes. The themes are called sefirot.
A lot of Jews don’t know about this custom. I’d forgotten all about it until several years ago, and even then I didn’t really research it until this year. Read more in my first Medium story about it here, and check out my stores for more.
The start of the Omer coincided with my April writing challenge, writing five days per week (give or take), and provided at least one writing prompt I could use each week. With one day left of the week, it’s almost not worth writing about it this week, except that there’s one week of counting left after this and so I can’t stop now. Aside from noting references, I’m pretty much free writing here….
This week’s omer inspiration lies in Yesod. Various sources that I looked at referred to Yesod as “fundamentals”, “foundation” and “bonding”. The foundation upon which the world was built.
Chabad says, “Yesod functions as the connector between all of the sefirot which precede it, and the recipient…. below it.” (Emphasis mine.)
According to Wikipedia, “Yesod plays the role of collecting and balancing the different and opposing energies of Hod and Netzach….” Aish (more specifically, their sharing of an excerpt from “Counting the Omer — A Spiritual Guide” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson) says that this week is about bonding, which means connecting, “not only feeling for another, but being attached to him.” I’d interpret that as connecting with one another, connecting within yourself, and connecting with whatever version of spirituality that you believe in if you believe at all.
Aish further says, “ Bonding is the foundation of life. The emotional spine of the human psyche. Every person needs bonding to flourish and grow…. It establishes trust ― trust in yourself and trust in others. It instills confidence. Without bonding and nurturing we cannot realize and be ourselves.”
Bonding comes up in a bunch of sources. Bonding IS the foundation of life. It starts before we’re born — the physical bond with the human whose uterus we inhabit. Then, if the baby continues to be with the human who birthed it, further bonding through feeding and touching, or bonding with the new parent/caregiver. I don’t need to elucidate there.
We bond with our friends, siblings, other relatives, pets, imaginary friends. We hopefully bond with ourselves in a positive way.
Sometimes our bonding has consequences such as playing favourites. Those we bond with challenge us. They challenge our patience. Our loved ones piss us off. Sometimes they do things that aren’t in their highest good. And yet, often it’s best to let them make their own mistakes and learn. Sometimes it’s hard to watch people we’ve bonded with make mistakes and do dumb shit. When we bond with other people — especially children or friends — we often see them as an extension of ourselves. We have to remember that they are their own people and despite the bonding, we have to practice non-attachment.
This also relates to going easy on ourselves when we do dumb shit. We can control how we react to it, we can make amends if needed and we can correct our behavior for next time.
Here are some suggestions for being in the energy of bonding, some of which are inspired by Jacobson’s suggestions:
Take some time any day or every day to disconnect from your mobile device and computer and be present with your loved ones. Whether you’re watching TV together, having a meal, or simply sitting around, leave the phone.
While listening to the Sivana podcast a couple of days ago, I heard this idea from executive coach Beth Weissenberger: If you have children, hand over your cell phone when you get home from work and don’t pick it up again until they’ve gone to bed.
(It was in episode 179, which you can get on your podcast app. The Sivana website only has episodes up to 176.)
2. No phone zone
On that note, make the kitchen table and mealtime a device-free zone. Phones, tablets, computers, gone.
(I‘m typing this from the kitchen table, but my laptop gets closed when we have meals together.)
3. Loosen your grip
Don’t be a “smother”. Give your loved ones space. Remember what I said about letting people make their own mistakes? That too.
(I watched this week’s episode of The Goldbergs this morning, so Beverly is on my mind.)
4. Practice unconditional love
Love others and yourself unconditionally.
Loving yourself unconditionally means accepting yourself. Not that you shouldn’t seek out self-improvement or attempt to be your best self, but you need to do that out of love instead of fear, and because you want to, not because of external pressure. Appreciate where you’re at.
5. Acknowledge & practice heart-based love rather than ego-based love
Be aware of the distinction between heart-based love and ego-based love and practice it. Unconditional love also means separating heart from ego, loving from love. Don’t love or bond for the sake of being loved. Women who choose to have children because they need someone to love them unconditionally and women who procreate to stay connected with their partner are procreating out of fear.
Having children so that they will eventually take care of you when you’re old is an example of having children out of fear.
Fear is rooted in the ego. Love for the sake of loving. Bond because it’s natural.
That said, don’t force a bond.
What are your ways to reinforce bonding with yourself and your loved ones?