Sad but true – experience is the best teacher. From here in the south of Ashdod, from the moment the Red Alert siren starts to wail, one has 31 seconds to get to a shelter or sheltered area. That's pretty luxurious, for our neighbors to the south in Ashkelon have only 21 seconds, while our brothers and sisters in the Sderot area have barely 14 seconds. It's no joke…
Now, once inside the shelter, there's a bigger challenge – staying calm, and calming the children. Words of emuna and encouragement, together with a nice chunk of Israeli chocolate, work wonders.
Our children have just as effective radar as the Iron Dome missile defense does. They can immediately detect in adults' faces if there's reason to worry or not. That behooves all of us to stay extra calm.
How does one maintain inner calm and composure when missiles are exploding outside?
Only a few weeks ago, with Hamas getting their new Iranian-technology multi-missile launchers, we experienced the heaviest series of missile barrages in Ashdod that I ever remember. It wasn't easy to stay calm, for the explosions we could hear outside were frequent and thunderous. I gave a breathing lesson to my family members and taught them Pilates breathing…
Pilates breathing is in itself a relaxing warmup that soothes body and soul. You take ten as-deep-as-you-can inhales through your nose, then slowly exhale ten times through your mouth until your lungs are totally emptied. Now repeat, and do this six times. Even better, put a rug or a Yoga mat on the floor, and as you inhale, arch your spine. As you exhale, do a "Pilates imprint" until there's no daylight between your spine and the floor. This way, you get a wonderful spine-massage benefit that's great for your posture and general good feeling. This type of breathing also promotes abdominal engagement, which the Pilates method is famous for.
This form of breathing is not only conducive to relaxation, but it's a stress-buster as well. If it works under rocket barrages in Ashdod, it will certainly help you neutralize your stress and anxiety anywhere else. So there you have it, bomb-shelter-tried and tested. Try it! May we all hear good news from each other, and blessings for everything good, amen!