Now is the time for spiritual practice.

Lisa Goldstein
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
Perhaps the author Paul Auster said it the most succinctly: "It occurred to me that the inner and the outer could not be separated except by doing great damage to the truth."

One of the most radical intuitions that can emerge from contemplative spiritual practice is how profoundly everything is interconnected. There are so many ways we can talk about this experience.  Jewish mystical texts discuss how waking up in the lower worlds causes waking up in the upper worlds. The sephirot map Divine qualities out there onto the human body right here. Nachman of Breslov piles metaphor upon metaphor ( bechinot) in his teachings to show how seemingly unrelated things are surprisingly aspects of each other. Art Green and others help move vertical symbols into horizontal ones, encouraging us to connect the inside and the outside as one whole, all of which can be an abode for Divine light.

This is particularly important during times like ours. We are seeing clearly what we glimpse in our practice: namely, that the inner life is not actually separate from our outer lives. The conditions and conditioning of our hearts and minds shape our relationships and contribute to shaping our societies. And the opposite is also true.   

  Upcoming Programs:
Thursday, February 23, at 2-3 PM ET

Sunday, February 19 at 12 - 1:15 PM ET

Prayer Project Online Intensive Modules: 

Hitbodedut: Cultivating Spontaneous Conversations with God
Rabbi David Jaffe
March 5 - 31, 2017

Shmirat haLashon: 
Meditation on Mindful Speech

Sheila Weinberg Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg
Elohai Netzor Leshoni MayRa
We are going to use the letters of the aleph bet as objects of our meditation along with the breath. This is a practice to help us settle the mind and see more clearly so that we can chose our words with greater care. May our words heal rather than to hurt. May they be useful and truthful and filled with wisdom.
Please, take your seat for meditation.

Nachman of Breslov on Disagreement and Creation (Likkutei Mohoran, 64:4)

In this teaching, Nachman is building on the Lurianic creation story. In that story, God created the world by drawing back Divine light to leave an empty space in which the world could be created through speech. But the withdrawn light was too powerful and shattered the vessels that were supposed to hold it. This caused "husks," or broken pieces of the vessels, to come into being, which hide sparks of that Divine light and introduce separation and suffering into the world. Still, Nachman teaches, in an argument there is a precious opportunity to create new realities through speech.
Understand that a disagreement is a kind of creation of the world. For the essence of the creation of the world was that it required an empty space, since without it, everything would be the infinite presence of God and there wouldn't be any place for the creation of the world. So God pulled the light back to the sides and the empty space was created and in it God created everything - days and measures - using speech, as it is said, "By the word of God the heavens were made (Ps. 33:6)." Similarly, this is the nature of disagreement. If the sages were united, there wouldn't be a place for the creation of the world, which only happens through the disagreements between them. They move away from each other, each one pulling back towards a different side. Thus a kind of empty space is created between them, which is like pulling back the light to the sides. This is where the creation can happen through speech.
 Mindful Activism in Action
Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg

Like many of you, I imagine, I subscribe to email action alerts from various advocacy organizations. As my mindfulness practice has become a stronger thread in my life, I have noticed how these action alerts arouse a whole range of thoughts, sensations and emotions. A couple of organizations in particular regularly send out alerts that seem to be designed to arouse either a panicky fear or potent anger in the reader. These feelings often energize and move me to act, but I have unsubscribed from these emails. When I'm asked the reason for stopping my subscription, I explain that I prefer to be motivated by compassion and faith than by anger and fear.
  Summer Retreat and Training 
for Hevraya and Community Members

Are you a professional or a lay leader in a Jewish community? This summer, the Institute will offer a retreat/training program just for leaders like you, who will be immersed in contemplative practice and receive training in implementing either our Tikkun Middot Project or Wise Aging Project. Those who are interested must apply to participate.
Click the banner above to learn more, or click here to apply today!