As a not-so-practicing Jewess, I observe the holidays, but often lose sight of why we celebrate them in the first place. Holidays like Tu B’Av (whose origins celebrate the start of the grape harvest, for those of you who had to look it up, too) are connected to love and fertility, but beyond the feel-good-vibes, why does love need its own holiday?
Because Tu B’Av is more than a party for the forthcoming grapes and of “blossoming” young women in white dresses dancing in the fields; it is a moment to discover the transformative power of love, which is beyond almost any other emotion.
I know: I sound like a Hallmark card. But having dedicated my life to studying the body, the heart, the soul, and the connections between them—first as a physical trainer, then as a shaman, and now as a PhD candidate—I mean it literally. From a cellular standpoint, love and its organ, the heart, hold the most powerful electromagnetic force in our bodies. The energy field of the heart is 60 times greater in amplitude and is 5000 times stronger in magnetism than the brain’s field.
What does that mean? And why does that matter? No better time to find out than the Jewish holiday of love. Here’s the short-short version: The heart emits a field of energy that can influence every cell in our body. Think of it this way: Your body lives under the proverbial power lines of your heart, and if those power lines are emitting dissonant fields—bad vibes, really—you are in trouble, big time.
Our ancestors, those wise rabbis, had no access to microscopes and powerful processing software, but they came to the very same conclusions anyway. Love, according to Kabbalah, is the very reason the world was created in the first place—God is nothing but love, and his love needed something to love, which is how us and the earth and everything in it came into being. Love is the reason for all; it is even, as the Song of Songs beautifully puts it, stronger than death.
It’s the first lesson I teach the people who come to me for healing. They approach me because they feel a little fat, say, or would like to be happier, or sense that their life isn’t going quite the way they had hoped it would. Whatever their concern, I usually begin by sharing this paragraph, by renowned psychophysiologist Rollin McCraty.
“Numerous studies have shown that heart coherence is an optimal physiological state associated with increased cognitive function, self-regulatory capacity, emotional stability and resilience,” McCraty wrote. “The heart is, in fact, a highly complex information-processing center… that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs and play an important role in mental and emotional experience and the quality of our lives.”
Put bluntly, this means that our emotions aren’t just fluffy little clouds that float around somewhere in the ether. They have a concrete impact on our health and our well-being. If we’re sad, angry, and anxious, our chances of getting physically sick shoot up exponentially. If we’re happy, content, in love, we’re much better off.
Even so, do we really need a holiday dedicated to love? We already have romantic comedies, Tinder, and a thousand other distractions. So why another holiday, and an ancient one at that?
Because the tradition of Tu B’Av, like all traditions that have endured throughout the ages, was founded by people who understood us better than we understand ourselves. Our ancestors knew how easy it was to get distracted by our daily grind, be it our shovels or our iPhones. They understood that love was as fleeting as it was essential, and that it was often easier to give in to rage, despair, and other dark feelings. And they wanted us to have at least one day in which we could press CTRL-ALT-DEL on life, reboot everything, and focus again on what matters.
And what matters? You know it. So this weekend, even if you’re not into the whole wearing white and dancing in the vineyards thing, take a moment to indulge in the greatest asset of all, to your body and your soul alike, the blessing of love.