SECTION HEADER: New Moon Meditations
Walking is both a Spiritual and Physical Act of Progression (UPPERCASE)
By Dr. Terry Segal
Rosh Chodesh Sivan begins on May 30. Enchanted Key #10-Meditation is this month’s focus. According to the Book of Formation, Sivan is associated with walking. This references both the physical and spiritual act that suggests forward movement or progression.
We were given the Torah in the month of Sivan as a guiding tool to prevent us from walking in circles. If we study and follow the teachings, we will continue to progress, elevate our souls, our connection to each other and to the Divine. Halacha, or the Code of Jewish Law, is the collected body of Jewish religious laws from the Torah. The word, halacha, stems from the same root as walking. So we can connect walking and meditation.
For a walking meditation, set the intention, along with the physical path. Chart a route to complete or walk for a pre-determined period of time. We can clear our heads and return to tasks with fresh eyes. Chant the words, “clear, clear, clear,” while walking or “peace,” or “calm,” or whatever word you’d like to substitute instead. Breathing also becomes rhythmic. Alternatively, choose to ponder a specific issue and allow the swirl of thoughts to move you past a block. Empty mind is not required for this kind of meditation. It is different, however, from thinking in which you are actively engaged in problem solving or retrieving information. During meditation we become an empty vessel to receive whatever inspiration occurs.
Some people have an unconscious aversion to meditation because it was begun as a Hindu practice. The literature portrays it as the road to enlightenment, along with personal sacrifice and prayer. Even today, meditation conjures the image of yogis sitting cross-legged on a cushion, fingers to thumb, incense burning, with citar music playing in the background. While this is an effective way to meditate, it’s not the only way. Our siddurim are filled with opportunities for silent meditation. Meditation practices can include walking, singing, chanting, breath work or attention on an object, such as a candle flame, to be still and direct our energies inward.
A common use of meditation, today, is to reduce stress and anxiety through training the body and mind to respond to relaxation cues. This can be challenging in the continuous flurry of life. Anyone can meditate on a mountaintop. We master the skill of meditation when we create a silent internal space in the midst of noise and chaos.
During the month of Sivan we are put to the task of seeking out the Divine sparks that have fallen into our material world and uplifting them. We continue to move forward in this world, toward infinite progression in the World to Come. Even though that is viewed as eternal Shabbat rest, there is still a sense of advancing from “strength to strength.”
Chanting a nigun, a musical, mystical Hasidic melody without lyrics, can create a trance-like state of meditation. The singsong repetition of sounds, such as bim bam or diddy di, is often accompanied by swaying and, in combination, produces an altered state. Dividing a congregation in half, to chant SHA and LOM becomes a group meditative experience. Participants tune themselves, as instruments, to the musical notes and align with the vibration of peace.
Lighting the Shabbat candles is a meditative act. The three circles summon the essence of Shabbat, first through the body, then the mind and then spirit. Focusing on the flame illuminates the soul and paves the way for the second soul we receive each Shabbat.
Stillness may be achieved by attention to the breath that moves in and out of our bodies, naturally. Focusing on the breath and altering it, to slow and deepen it is akin to disarming a blaring alarm. Remember who sets off those alarms? Critical Dragon.
Another form of meditation is writing. When we explored Key #3-Journaling, we discussed the unconscious material that appears on the page and points us in the direction of our dreams.
Whether intentionally meditating or not, we spend about 3-4 hours of every waking day in trance. This occurs any time that we’re engaged in repetitive actions that don’t require full attention, like doing the dishes, driving the same path every day (although I don’t recommend trancing out while driving) or standing in the shower. No Dragon chatter justifying plopping in front of the TV and calling it “meditation time.” That’s relaxation, which can shift focus away from stressors, but it’s not meditation.
Worried that you can’t meditate? Imagine yourself on a beach, warmed by the sun, yet with a cool breeze. The air is fresh and seagulls squawk in the distance. You watch the sunlight dance on the waves. You feel the ahhhh throughout your body. You’re doing it just right.
Which form of meditation are you willing to try, as you gather those Divine sparks?
Dr. Terry Segal is a licensed marriage & family therapist, Ph.D. in energy medicine, hypnotherapist and author of “The Enchanted Journey: Finding the Key that Unlocks You.”