September 5, 2012 5:17 pm at 5:17 pm #604784
Hello Coffee Room,
I have been trying to get into meditation as a means of stress and anxiety relief for some time, and I would really like to be able to meditate on some Jewish themes and ideas so that I can make the link between meditation and spirituality.
Does anyone in the CR have any experience in this regard, or know of any good resources?
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!September 5, 2012 6:19 pm at 6:19 pm #895138
How about the miracle of the body? How Hashem made each part of the body for a purpose and how we are all different e.g the wonder of sight, the workings of the heart kidneys etc.
How about the miracle of nature – how Hashem made a little seed into an apple tree. Rabbi Miller used to say we should look at colour- Look at all the different greens in trees – the beautifule colours of fruit and veg. HatzlochoSeptember 5, 2012 7:49 pm at 7:49 pm #895139
Check out the book “Jewish Meditation” by Aryeh Kaplan.September 5, 2012 7:55 pm at 7:55 pm #895140
I have experience with meditation. Rabbi aryeh kaplans book on jewish meditation is an excellent resource.September 5, 2012 9:30 pm at 9:30 pm #895141
Rabbi Gutman Locks has a ton of interesting suggestions in his book on meditation (he also blogs about his kiruv activities at the kotel; a frum meditation book was recently reviewed there, I think).
Although Breslov is best known for hisbodedus in the sense of talking to Hashem, there are also Breslov teachings on silent meditation (see The Tree that Stands Beyond Space and also Rabbi Ozer Bergman’s book book about hisbodedus). This can involve, for example, closing your eyes and mouth and simply meditating on the concept of Ein Od Milvado or the fact that everything G-d does is for the good. (On that note, the Yerushalmi says we should always be saying, Lord of Hosts, Happy is the Man Who Trusts in You (a pasuk in Tehillim).
Quotes illustrating various historical Jewish views on meditation are collected on the blog solitude-hisbodedus, maintained by blogger Dov ben Avraham and Breslover rabbi Dovid Sears.
I don’t know the sources (perhaps Tanya?) but Chabadniks often talk about meditating on the greatness of Hashem.
The Bilvavi seforim, which are available to read online for free in English, have some interesting suggestions about feeling the presence of Hashem.
Try this: breathing in, visualize your soul extending upwards or outwards to Hashem in yearning and love (“to You, Lord, I lift my soul” — Tehillim 25) and when breathing out, visualize and feel Hashem’s love descending upon you.September 5, 2012 9:35 pm at 9:35 pm #895142
I agree, those are very inspiring things to contemplate in meditation. I especially love focusing on the leaf colors when they begin to change in fall — I could stare at them all day! Do you meditate too?September 6, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am #895143
I don’t know if you ended up contacting an Orthodox rabbi experienced in kiruv. Until then I would suggest that while exploring more about Judaism through reading, you should probably refrain from innovating religious practices.
The Torah was given to us by Hashem to refine us, to make us worthy of the world to come and worthy of His closeness even on this world. It is not a tool of our own. While following the Torah is fulfilling, that is not our stated goal.
There is nothing wrong with the idea of meditating on true Torah concepts. But it is important to keep things in perspective; to keep the mundane and the sacred separate.September 6, 2012 1:23 am at 1:23 am #895144
Thank you for the great suggestions all!
Yitayningwut and square peg, I saw that book online and read some good reviews — I’m glad to hear that it’s worth getting.
Yytz, thank you for those specific suggestions about where to start. I am going to try the visualization you described today! I’ll have to look for that frum meditation book too.
HaLeiVi, I think I have some of the same concerns about it that you do — trying to stick with the truly Jewish concepts, as opposed to, e.g., all the Buddhist aspects frequently associated with meditation.September 6, 2012 2:07 am at 2:07 am #895145
Tehillim / Psalms – 1 Vol Pocket Size
By Rabbi Hillel Danziger (Author) / Rabbi Nosson Scherman (Editor)
Catalog #: TEPP / Publisher: ArtScroll Mesorah Publications / Binding: Paperback or hardcover
Tehillim / Psalms – 1 Vol – Full Size
By Rabbi Hillel Danziger (Author) / Rabbi Nosson Scherman (Editor)
Catalog #: TEHH / Publisher: ArtScroll Mesorah Publications / Binding: Hardcover or paperback.September 6, 2012 3:20 am at 3:20 am #895146
That sounds great ready now, thank you!September 6, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am #895147
Generally meditation is not really a jewish thing,
I realize you are not in NYC, but you probably need to come visit, The Carlbach Shul might have some meditation.
You might also like the services there as well. There is alot of singing and Cantorology there as well. You also might find some people like yourself (Age and profession) both men and women.
In Ultra-Orthodox shuls there isnt much singing anymore and even more modern shuls there is alot less of it as well. Nowadays when there is a rare cantor, you usually hear groans in the audience that prayers will take longer because there is a Cantor.September 6, 2012 1:33 pm at 1:33 pm #895148
I disagree with the notion that meditation is not a Jewish thing. Well I don’t really disagree with it per se, but with its implications.
Meditation is as much a Jewish thing as eating apples or doing exercise. It is a tool for life. If it speaks to you, doesn’t hurt anyone, and isn’t bad in God’s eyes (stuff Halacha defines), then it can be utilized for personal growth. As the popular idiom goes, whatever floats your boat. God wants you to be yourself; not someone else, and certainly not a robot. So if meditation speaks to you, then using it for personal growth is most certainly a Jewish thing.September 6, 2012 1:59 pm at 1:59 pm #895149
You’re welcome! The book I was thinking of is Eye to the Infinite by R’ Aharon Rubin. I haven’t read it but it get good reviews (including the chassidim blogging at Mystical Paths). There are many other books on meditation written by frum Jews. R’ Aryeh Kaplan’s book on Jewish meditation is definitely worth reading. R’ Dovber Pinson has also written books on Jewish meditation.
When people think of meditation, they think of sitting there silently or repeating a phrase or something, but that’s only one of many different ways of Jewish meditation. Ideally, davening should be a form of meditation. Personal prayer, hisbodedus, is also an important form of meditation (in fact, in Likutei Eitzos hisbodedus is often translated as meditation). Brachos should also be meditations, making us aware of G-d’s greatness and kindness and the fact that everything we have comes from Him. Many people have written about these topics.
Tehillim, too, is a great form of meditation — it’s not just for praying for people who are ill or whatever. It is good to say a few chapters of tehillim a day, applying the words to your own life (references to evil people and battles and such can be understood as referring to your own evil inclination or negative character traits and struggles in life). I prefer the interlinear Tehillim myself, even for praying in English — the translation’s not bad, and it slows you down so you have better kavanah.
Meditation is neglected by many nowadays but it is important for many reasons. We are supposed to love Hashem, and serve him with every fiber of our beings, all parts of our mind and heart. How can we do this if our davening and learning is only in our heads? To really achieve simcha, emuna, bitachon, kavanah, some form of meditation is necessary.September 6, 2012 4:56 pm at 4:56 pm #895150
Thank you zahavasdad,
It is good to know of resources in NYC in case I can make it up there for a visit.
I LOVE it when there is a cantor! I find the singing to be so moving. Why are cantors becoming more rare? Their gift is so profound and inspiring!September 6, 2012 5:38 pm at 5:38 pm #895151
Some Common SenseParticipant
I’m sorry but you are incorrect but meditation is a very jewish thing. HOWEVER, it is resevered for those at a very high level of knowledge of Sod and purity. Most modern day meditaiton is not that and are from non-jewish sources many of which are actual A”Z like TM.
Rabbi Kaplan’s books say some things but of course hide a great deal. Please remember that the Shulchan Aruch states (RM”A) that you should only learn sod after 40 years old and when your stomach is full of Gemara and Halacha.September 6, 2012 7:06 pm at 7:06 pm #895152
Maybe you can call the Carlebach Shul in NY and ask if there is a similar service in the Philly area.
I think you would enjoy it.
Many people have families kids etc and need a faster service as the kids and even adults get figety.September 6, 2012 7:22 pm at 7:22 pm #895153
That’s a good idea — thank you zahavasdad!
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