By: Rabbi Moshe Rafael
The month of Iyar (which began in late April), is known as the month of healing and according the book “Sefer Yissirah” the special sense of Iyar is reflection and the power of joy.
Rambam emphasized the correlation between our thoughts and how they influence our physical body. Stress, depression, fear and anger are harmful to our body and have been clinically proven to cause a variety of unhealthy reactions like rapid pulse, high blood pressure, muscle tension, suppression of the immune system, and insomnia, among many others. Rambam’s ancient advice urges us, in every case of illness, to reinforce emotional wellbeing with good smells and fragrances and also strengthen spiritual wellbeing with music. He recommended telling happy stories that will make the sick person laugh, and divert their attention from the illness. (Hanhagat Habruit 2 paragraph 20)
In our demanding modern lives, when positive thinking can be a challenge, aromatherapy, healing with essential oils, can give us the boost we need to improve our attitude. Helping to establish harmony between mind and body, essential oils can aid in balancing emotions, relaxing the nervous system, stimulating circulation, lifting depression and easing aches and pains. Through the olfactory nerve located at the back of the nose, the effect of the essential oil is carried directly to the brain, triggering the immediate release of hormones and neurotransmitters, making it one of the fastest forms of healing.
Some oils that can help are:
Yalang Yalang – known for relieving depression, insomnia and emotional stress.
Sage essential oil – helps to relax stress and acute panic and is also good for PMS.
Rosemary essential oil – aids to reduce depressing thoughts.
Any of these oils can be used in an essential oil burner around the home or in the office or can be dropped on a tissue and inhaled periodically throughout the day.
Daily exercise like yoga, walking or bicycle riding are also effective stress relievers and reducing the intake of caffeinated drinks, sugar and white flour will help tremendously. A daily cup of herbal tea made from lemon balm, valerian, passion fruit flowers or skull cap is a tasty way to help relieve stress and tension. While drinking these relaxing teas, let your soul relax from the soothing smell of the essential oils and focus on positive thoughts. As the Ba’al Shem Tov advised: think good and it will be good.
Rabbi Moshe Rafael is the founder and director of the Rambam Institute and College of Jewish Medicine Safed, Israel and a doctor of natural medicine.