Thursday, November 5, 2009
Just Breathe: Jewish meditation, part 2.
Chances are, if you are like most of us, you'll notice certain things. One of them might be, as you begin, 'am I doing this right?' To that question, I answer with another question - 'what were you doing the moment before you closed your eyes and brought your attention to your breath?' I'm guessing that you were probably breathing. Were you worried then about whether you were doing it right? So notice how quickly we move to judgment, even on something as basic as breathing. Being present to this moment means just noticing what is arising right now. As soon as we make a judgment about it - its nice, ugly, distracting, good, bad... that is something additional, and it removes us from just being fully present to what is. Its completely natural and human, and so don't get annoyed with yourself when you notice judgment arising - that's another judgment! Just notice, and let it pass by.
You'll also notice, if you are watching the breath, that there is a certain moment when the in-breath ceases and out-breath begins. Don't try to control it - just notice as it comes in and out. There is constant change in our universe - nothing stays the same, and most of it just happens, irrespective of our agency. Fear of not being in control is something that many of us experience. Extended meditation practice with this awareness can help us to find peace and acceptance with what is, and this is an ingredient of a profoundly spiritual, joyful life, even in the midst of great challenges and painful experiences.
Finally, for today's posting, when we meditate on our breath, most of us notice that it doesn't take more than a few breaths before our mind gets crowded with lots of other thoughts. That doesn't mean we 'failed' meditation 101 (remember - no judgments!). Each time we notice that our mind is busy and bring our attention back to this breath and this moment, we are doing precisely what we are meant to be doing in a moment of meditation. And when we begin to notice where our minds went right before we brought our attention back to the breath, we notice that we spend much of our time in either the past or the future, but very little of it being in the present.
So much spiritual wisdom in just one breath. And this is just the beginning. More blog postings will offer further reflection and teaching, particularly for those interested in learning about meditation, and some of the spiritual wisdom of Judaism on mindful meditation. Please do feel free to offer your insights, experiences and questions via our 'comments' section (which you can do anonymously if you prefer).
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz