Passover is the story of the Hebrew’s exodus from the bonds of 400 years of slavery to freedom as a Jewish people. Although today there is no slavery to Pharaoh, bondage remains a metaphor for relinquishing your freedom to the bondage of life.
Modern day bondage takes many forms: food addiction, unhappy relationships, workaholism, over stressed, over anxious, over weight. All represent beliefs we internalize and allow to bind us.
If you feel immobilized, stuck, captive or feel you do not control your life, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can live both free and freely. It just requires reframing your beliefs to release the shackles that bind you. Since Passover lasts for eight days, here are eight steps to exodus from your bondage using Passover as an acronym.
P = Permission – This is the first step and one of the most challenging. If Moses didn’t believe freedom was possible, the Hebrews would have stayed in Egypt. What beliefs immobilize you? Why? It is said that people who live in the past feel depressed and those who live in the future feel anxious. What can you do to live in the present; to experience this moment as a joyous experience? Visualize where you want to be or what you want to happen and move toward that place. Give yourself permission and freedom becomes possible.
A = Associations – Author Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones, found that people who socialize live longer, healthier lives. Whether you are spending time with friends or family or in a connected group such as your congregation or other social experience, doing so regularly helps provide beliefs, behaviors and perspectives that are liberating and that contribute to freedom, happiness and longevity.
S = Stress Reduction – People have always known stress. A little of it allows you to prepare for a lecture or a sporting event, avert a car accident or run out of a burning building. But chronic stress is responsible for 80% of primary care visits to the doctor, though only three percent actually receive stress management counseling. Stress and its sidekick, fear, can bind you in your current situation and prevent you from trying new things. The future can be brighter if you simply move toward the light. As Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” What are you avoiding that could set you free?
S = Sleep More – 70 million adults don’t get the 7 or more hours of sleep each night they need. That leads to poor memory, poor performance on the job, poor family dynamics, falling asleep at the wheel, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more. If you feel bad and sleepy, you are much less likely to risk doing or seeing things differently. You have to be alert to find and follow the path to new freedom.
O = Organize – Are you surrounded by piles of work? No time to try things differently? Organizing can change that. Clear the piles that clutter your home and office. You may find the unopened letter offering you a new position or the recipe for the tzimmas you misplaced. Organizing your day with blocks of time to think of and try new things suddenly opens the door to opportunity.
V = Vocalize – Think of this in two ways: 1) Sing. It frees your spirit to move to a new place and 2) Speak what is on your mind. Saying your fears out loud, verbalizing what you want to achieve or where you want to be makes it real and makes it possible.
E = Exercise – Poor health and obesity are a type of bondage. You can’t do the things you want to do or some of the things that bring you joy. Make exercise a habit; one you do every day. Start with just five minutes daily and work up to 30 or even 60 minutes. Your brain and body will work better and for longer.
R = Resolve – As Helen Keller once said, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” This Passover as you sit at the Seder reading about the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, take a moment to reflect on the things that bind you. It’s the perfect time to begin the exodus from your bondage.