A Way In Blog

Carol Towarnicky | 09/15/2011 - 10:41am
In a well-known rabbinic story, related by Rabbi Lisa Bellows in her blog Ayin Tova: to See the Good, a man was lost for several days in the forest and didn't know which path to take. He finally sees another man approaching. He is filled with joy and excitement because now he finally thinks he will be able to find the way out. So he asks, "Brother, show me the way out, which is the right way?" And the man replies, "Brother, I too am lost.  I can only tell you...
Carol Towarnicky | 09/12/2011 - 1:41pm
Alden Solovy, a liturgist, poet, teacher, editor is posting teachings and poems for Elul on his blog, To Bend Light: Prayers from a Jewish Heart. One of his "meditations on repentance, return and living in holiness" is On Regarding Old Wounds. Because healing can be painful. Much like surgery, it’s often necessary for me to receive my wounds in order to grow. Then I have a profound choice, to live wounded or to let these wounds heal and live from a place of heart, a place of...
Carol Towarnicky | 09/10/2011 - 11:17pm
Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center has been posting daily reflections for the month of Elul -- and with them, practices for the day. Here's one:  Maimonides famously said that true teshuvah is attained when a person confronts the same situation in which they sinned before and this time refrains, even though the potential to repeat the sin again is readily available. All of us have our weak spots, places that we continue to work on...
Carol Towarnicky | 09/09/2011 - 11:05am
In an interview just posted, Rabbi Yael Levy talks about the Mindfulness service for the Second Day of Rosh HaShanah and what she hopes it will bring to those who participate. An excerpt: The traditional structure of the service brings us into relationship with our bodies, our breath, with each other, with the earth and with the mysterious and awesome unfolding of all life. It asks us to wake up to why we are here. What is ours to do? And it asks the question: How can we best live lives...
Carol Towarnicky | 09/08/2011 - 5:17am
In her post for Day 7 of Jewels of Elul, an email for each day leading to Rosh HaShanah (you can sign up to receive them here), Allison Laichter of the Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn, recounts a moment of enlightenment -- and it centered on bowing.  "While spending a summer in India, I took daily Buddhist philosophy classes. Along with everyone else in the class, I always bowed and prostrated to the ground when the teacher walked into the room. One day, after weeks of classes...
Rabbi Yael Levy | 08/29/2011 - 12:01pm
The aim of the month of Av is to break us open—to shatter our preconceptions, to challenge our long held beliefs, to shake us awake and demand us to be present. It often comes with a crash, an insistence that is difficult to ignore. And it can leave us feeling raw—grasping for breath.  The month of Elul dawns this evening, Monday Aug, 29 and the call softens—“Come home to me,” the mystery whispers—“you are safe-you are loved, come home, return to...
Carol Towarnicky | 08/18/2011 - 11:19am
What if, like the GPS, when we make the wrong turn, instead of getting mad at ourselves or others, we did what the GPS does and calmly announce "Recalculating"? That is Sylvia Boorstein's wonderful Mindfulness analogy posted today by the NPR program On Being, along with a great photo from a listener. Here's Sylvia: I was thinking about the GPS in my car. It never gets annoyed at me. If I make a mistake, it says, “Recalculating.” And then it tells me to make the...
Carol Towarnicky | 08/16/2011 - 11:26am
I wanted to share part of Rabbi Yael's teaching at this morning's Meditation Sit: When (not if) the mind wanders, we bring ourselves back by focusing on how we are breathed, and are breathing, the life force that is present in all being. This encapsulates for me the power of gathering together to be in silence.
Carol Towarnicky | 08/14/2011 - 11:48pm
From Kate Braestrup’s new book, Beginner’s Grace (via the Velveteen Rabbi) come this: I had thought that conquering the monkey mind and bringing myself into a conscious attentiveness were prerequisites for prayer, but they are not: they are prayer's result. If I was restless, dubious, and distracted whenever I'd try to pray, so what? Everyone is! Sometimes the 25 minutes of the Tuesday morning meditation “sit” seems like it is going on forever. The mind is so...
Rabbi Yael Levy | 08/10/2011 - 9:18am
As we come into the days after the 9th of Av the seasons begin to shift.  From a distance we look toward Rosh Hashanah.  Slowly, with love, we listen for the questions the malack, the Divine messenger posed to Hagar when she fled to the wilderness: "Where have you come from?  And where are you going?"                                                ...
Carol Towarnicky | 08/02/2011 - 10:03am
The Huffington Post looks at Jewish Mindfulness as practiced at a "Zen and Zohar on Repairing the World" retreat at the Isabella Friedman Center last week, sponsored by the Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn. World-renowned author Daniel Matt was one of the teachers and shared this guided meditation: "The most powerful name of God -- the one no one knows how to pronounce, the one people have all sorts of ways to avoid announcing -- is spelled in Hebrew Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. Switch...
Carol Towarnicky | 07/31/2011 - 10:24am
Here's a spiritual practice from Judy Lief passed along by Rabbi Brant Rosen on his blog Yedid Nefesh: "When you notice you are expecting applause, explore what lies behind that expectation. Notice the subtle shift between when you have done something and when you begin to look around you for recognition." Read the entire post: It's got enough wisdom to last for at least the rest of the week.
Rabbi Yael Levy | 07/30/2011 - 10:19pm
  During these days leading up to the fast day of Tisha B’Av, I have decided to take on a different kind of fast, one that is more difficult for me than abstaining from food or drink. This year, I am taking on a fast from feeling self-righteous, from thinking I’m right and another is wrong. There’s an exercise in the Omer Guide that invites people to “reflect on something you believe to be true. Feel the rightness, the truth of of this idea. Then say to yourself: I...
Carol Towarnicky | 07/26/2011 - 12:46pm
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, who blogs as the Velveteen Rabbi, posted this wonderful poem to say before prayer. My favorite lines: And I, who can barely focus on breath without drifting into story: what can I say to you, author of wisteria and sorrel, you who shaped these soft hills with glaciers' slow passage?
Rabbi Yael Levy | 07/22/2011 - 12:18am
  Tuesday was the 17th of Tammuz, , a day on which some Jews fast from dawn to dusk to commemorate the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. It ushers in a three-week period of mourning as we approach Tisha B’Av, a day that observes several Jewish tragedies at once. The month of Av also invites us to a deep -- and challenging – practice of tikkunim, of repair. Av echoes avot, ancestors, source. And it calls us to confront...

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