Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spiritual Practices and Physicality

I know that there are plenty of people who would disagree, but we can learn a lot if we're willing to be ecumenical.

For example, I read this post by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat.  This part jumped out at me:  "One of the refrains of the holiday is 'On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.' From this we can intuit that while the heart may be solid on Rosh Hashanah (so words can be inscribed on it), it must be soft like wax in order to be sealed on Yom Kippur. So it is incumbent on us to soften our hearts."

But how do we do that?  I liked the physicality of this practice:   "I learned a new interpretation of the practice of beating the breast during the recitation of missteps: rather than castigating ourselves, we're knocking gently on the heart, asking it to open."

I'm not a breast beater, but I couldn't resist knocking on my upper chest.  It felt oddly good.  I wondered what would happen if I knocked gently periodically throughout the day to remind myself to stay open to everyone.  I wrote this comment:  "I have this vision of knocking on my heart during my work day, to remind myself to soften my heart to everyone who is difficult, to remind myself that praying for those people is better than my anger."

Later, after spin class, as I took a shower at the gym, I knocked on my heart and prayed for extra patience for the day ahead.  We're putting all of our syllabi into a new template, and it's a task which befuddles some people.

While I didn't knock on my heart at any other point in the day--I don't want to be seen as too much of a whack-a-do at work--I did find myself with extra portions of patience and tolerance.

Like many modern people, I tend to live too much in my head and too much in front of a screen.  I like these ancient spiritual practices that remind me that I am a physical body too.  I like these practices that work to integrate me.

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

I love your way of shifting this Yom Kippur practice into what could be a daily meditation. Thank you!