Kislev: November 23, 2014
By Dr. Terry Segal | Special For The AJT
Rosh Chodesh Kislev begins on Sunday, November 23, 2014. It’s a month of miracles, illuminating the darkness with light and the opportunity to transform our lives into an enchanted journey through our Judaism. Self-reflection about our practice of Judaism can bring us the gift of a deepened connection to ourselves, our ancestors, and our heritage.
While it is a festive time, it’s not devoid of Dragons. They appear as imbalances associated with overspending, overeating, and overscheduling, which fuel anxiety, emotions, compromise good health, adequate sleep and wise decision-making. The Enchanted Key to Mindfulness is the antidote required to stay present and on-track. Extending your personal practice to your religious life can create the miracles of the season.
To clarify, Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation are not exactly the same thing. Mindfulness is a conscious level of self-awareness whose underpinnings include a sense of peace, connectedness to the Universe and personal accountability for the way one thinks and behaves. Mindfulness Meditation is a tool for getting to the core of this awareness.
Let’s apply the Mindfulness Key to your experience of Judaism. Some people acknowledge themselves as Jews but they do not observe the rituals and practices of the religion. Others may be observant in actions but are not aligned with the soulful connection to G-d that is possible. Wherever we are on the continuum, there is always work to be done. You may also wish to open a meaningful discussion about this with others.
Take a moment to quiet yourself. Sit in darkness for the beginning of this exercise. Take a few deep and cleansing breaths and exhale any tension held in your body. Get present to what being Jewish means to you. What thoughts or emotions arise for you? Being more specific now, what do you love about being Jewish? What challenges you about being a Jew in today’s world? If you were born Jewish, revisit the glorious memories from your childhood associated with that. Invite the senses as you may recall the smells and tastes of a Jewish kitchen, relatives that gathered in moth ball-scented coats, favorite prayers chanted by the head of your family or shiny, new shoes on Rosh Hashanah. If your recollections of being a Jewish child were not pleasant, reflect on how they have affected you today. If you are a convert to Judaism, recall the spark that lit your soul.
Light a candle and gaze at the ring that expands outward from the center of the flame. Contemplate yourself as the center of that light, G-d as the source, and your way of being in the world, particularly as a Jew, as an opening to illuminate a greater area than just your immediate circle.
It’s easy to become complacent and keep the status quo but we mustn’t allow ourselves to be like bears in hibernation for the winter. We can’t go to sleep and expect miracles to happen. We must rest and awaken each day with focused energy to implement change. We are the makers of modern-day miracles and, with the help of G-d, we can turn darkness to light.
During this month of Kislev, consider what darkened corners of your Judaism you would like to light.
Author’s note: I am not exempt from Dragon play. Last month, at the end of the Meditation Focus, was an extended bit of information on Kabbalah and the astrological sign of Scorpio. It should not have been printed. I study the Kabbalistic interpretation of the Hebrew months with regard to astrological influences through livekabbalah.org. I inadvertently had submitted my article, along with the recorded notes, without realizing it. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.