Every aspiring עבד ה' appreciates the significance of the adage “קנה לך חבר”, and the terribly painful loneliness of או חברותא או מתותא. For years, I have desired to form a chaburah of individuals whose attempt to guide their life at achieve both יראת שמים and קרבת אלוקים. As members of such a chaburah, I hoped that together we could develop profound thoughts concerning avodas Hashem, both its theoretical as well as its practical elements. We would assist each other in developing the unique ideas and approaches of each member.

Over the years and in different stages of my life, I was fortunate enough to meet such individuals. With current technology, we are attempting to form this chaburah, despite the geographical distance that may separate us. We would like to invite others with whom our ideas may resonate to join us by reading, commenting, and ultimately sharing your thoughts with us. קנה לך חבר, says the Arizal, means that your pen (קנה) should be your friend – as you write, your thoughts become clearer.

The exact parameters of this blog will be defined as we develop our ideas. All entries are guided by five principles:

a) יראת שמים

b) desire for קרבת אלוקים and becoming a better עבד ה'

c) strict adherence to Halacha, including הלכות לשון הרע

d) belief in גדלות האדם, both in oneself and all other people

e) intellectual rigor
Anyone who does not feel passionately about these five principles is asked not to comment, since any comment that does not meet the above-mentioned criteria will not be posted.

About the name of the blog. “השגה” represents the intellectual grasp of any given idea, while “הויה” represents the incorporation of that idea into the person’s weltanschauung. Our goal is to merely discuss theoretical ideas and then return to our daily lives. We want to transform the ideas of the Torah into a living Torah, a תורת חיים.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Introduction to Jewish Meditation

The following course was delivered to Post-high school Yeshiva students.

Types of meditation introduced in this course:
1. Introduction - Relaxation of body and mind.
2. Mindfulness - Learning to be aware non-judgmentally and dispassionately of body, feelings, thoughts, and environment. See the work of Dr. Jon Kabbat-Zinn
3. Dis-identification/Identification - Learning to not identify with the body, feelings and thoughts and identifying with the inner "I." See the work of Dr. Roberto Assagioli. 
4. Identification - Learning to discover the inner "I" and, therefore, Will, through Tai Chi and meditative movements (shuckuling).
5. Guided visualization - Learning to see one's self in a more objective way through visualizing one's self from above and in the context of the universe. See the work of R. Menachem Ekstein
6. Guided visualization - Learning to develop and expand the imagination and, therefore, emotions through visualizing new experiences. See the work of R. Menachem Ekstein.
7. The art of amazement - Learning to fully experience emotions while listening to music or eating an orange. See the work of R. Alexander Seinfeld.
8. Mussar exercise - Learning to chant and be emotionally impacted by a pasuk or saying from Chazal. See the work of R. Tzvi Miller and Alan Morinis.
9. Hisbodenus/Contemplation - Learning to think in learning (especially gemara) in a mediative state. See Alter of Kelm and the writings of Chabad. 
10. Hisbodedus/Personal prayer - Learning to talk to G-d in your own words in a natural setting. Includes singing (kumsitz). See R. Avraham b. ha'Rambam (Hamaspik l'ovdei Hashem) and Rebbe Nachman.
11. Tefillah/Communal prayer - Learning to prayer the formalized prayers with consciousness of one's self in the presence of G-d, slowly with contemplation on words, visualizations,  meditative head and body movements and song.

Recommended Resources

Apatow, Avraham Chaim 
  Bergman, R. Ozer
      -Where Earth Meets Heaven: A Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Path of Meditation
 Brody, R. Lazer
      -In Forest Fields: A Guide to Personal Prayer
 Ekstein, R. Menachem
     -Visions of a Compassionate World (translation)
Ginsburgh, R. Yitzchak
      -Living in Divine Space: Kabbalah and meditation.
 Kaplan, R. Aryeh
      -Jewish Meditation, 
      -Meditation and Kabbalah
      -Meditation and the Bible
     -Outpouring of the Soul: Rebbe Nachman's Path in Meditation
     -Taming the Raging Mind
 Millhauser, Miriam
     -Inner Torah: Where Consciousness and Kedusha Meet
    -Practical Inner Torah: A Guide to Going Within
    - The Breath and Body of Inner Torah
Seinfeld, R. Alexander  
     -The Art of Amazement
 Sutton, R. Avraham
     -Reawakening Spiritual Awareness
 Svirsky, R. Efim 
    -Connection :Emotional and Spiritual Growth Through Experiences God's Presence