Immobile Body, Mobile Spirit.

After being immobile on my back in excruciating pain from a spasm for two days, I’m finally able to sit up on my own.  My cat just coughed up a hairball on my couch – which ocean ebb on beach
would require me prying myself out of my recliner in order to clean it up..but I’m picking my battles right now.  The hairball will wait. As will, unfortunately, the kid’s and adult yoga classes that I love teaching, the physical training I am doing with my husband and son for a spartan race, and the laundry.

Yesterday I couldn’t sit up to read or focus on anything, so today I am especially grateful that I can extend my arms, t-rex style, enough to type out this blog post.  I’m grateful that I could hold my prayer book on my lap and recite the daily blessings of my tradition.  I’m grateful I can sing again. (did I mention I was also super sick right before the back went  out?)

One of the daily blessings (nisim b’chol yom) is gratitude to Adonai, our God, who lifts up the fallen.  (Zokeif k’fufim)  Another way to interpret this is gratitude for rising to a new day.  And I am certainly thankful for that.  To rise up, to breathe without pain,  (unlike yesterday) and to have the gift of life.  A deeper appreciation for the other morning prayers arose for me…modah ani, thank you God for restoring my soul to me upon awakening, for giving me another opportunity to live as fully as a can, with what I have available.  Asher yatzar,  praised be God who created this body, and all the pathways and openings that allow for harmony within…this heart beating, these sacred breaths…the ability to use the bathroom – seriously, I take that one for granted.  Instead of saying, “Oh man, I have to pee again?” I can say , “Yes! I get to pee again!”  I can fine tune my perception, and see my life through the lens of gratitude and awe, central themes in the Jewish tradition.

As much as I detest being sick, feeling weak, and slowing down, I also know that there is a natural ebb and flow to  our lives.  It cannot be all flow, all the time.  A non- stop beautiful ocean wave is called a tsunami.  Not so fun.

So I will embrace the ebb in my life this week. I will use it as an opportunity to listen more deeply to the still small voice within.  I will  be vulnerable in offering up my voice, and sharing myself in this way. And I will embrace the sacred insights of my soul as they rise up, written in the sand, before the next wave comes in.

Namaste and Shalom,

Kendra

Stretching into the Jewish New Year

shanah-tova-tree-of-life

Baruch atah, Adonai                                                         בָרוּךְ אַתָה יְיָ

Eloheinu Melech haolam,                                             אֱלֹהֵינן מֶלֶךְ הָעןֹלָם

matir asurim.                                                                   מַתִיר אֲסוּרִים

Praise to you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who frees the captive. (For the ability to stretchspiritual interpretation)

As we enter the sacred time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, let us embody the gift of freedom.  The gift of free choice, to practice t’shuvah, turning once again toward our own goodness as we enter the new year.

Let us celebrate the ability to stretch, both physically and spiritually, as we challenge ourselves to live in ways we may never have thought possible – reaching new heights of awareness and  unity with our fellow human beings.

L’shana Tova, G’mar Chatimah Tova! Happy New Year and may you be sealed in the Book of Life.

Namaste, Shalom, and Love,

Kendra

Miracle of the Body -Meditation

 

sitting silohuette yoga

Asher Yatzar is a Jewish prayer that offers gratitude and awe for the miracle and function of the human body. I have offered a brief reflection on part of the blessing, followed by a guided meditation/embodied experience of the prayer.

Although it is short in linear time, (about 5 mins) I hope you will feel as if you have visited the sacred temple of your body, returning deeply nourished from a long rest.

Asher Yatzar Embodied Experience

Namaste and Shalom,

Kendra

Sanctify Your Speech in 2016/5776

holy temple

According to Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerona (1180-1263), when you are careful about what words you speak, you sanctify yourself like a holy vessel used in the temple service. A holy vessel is suitable only for the highest purpose, and so it is with our mouths.  If all your words are for an elevated purpose, then your mouth is as a holy as the temple vessels.”

 (With Heart in Mind, Mussar Teachings to Transform Your Life)

 I often start with the body, in order to bring lofty concepts and ideals into my life in practical way.  I hope you will try this, as well as pondering the thoughts offered below.

Physical Purification of the Mouth

Tongue Scraping

The tongue scraper, an inexpensive yet transformative utensil, is a simple, thin, u-shaped piece of stainless steel or plastic.  It can be found in virtually every store in the dental hygiene department.  It consists of a blunted edge that removes plaque and build-up from the surface of the tongue. Dentists in America are recommending the tongue scraper more and more because it helps to fight cavities by removing bacteria from the mouth. The tongue scraper also prevents bad breath, especially for people who eat a lot of dairy and build up mucus in the mouth, nose, and throat.

The tongue scraper comes from the tradition of Ayurveda, (a sister science of the practice of Yoga) which asserts that people who use a scraper are better at public speaking, express themselves more thoughtfully, and speak more sincerely and authoritatively. Some people ask if the same effect can be gained by brushing the tongue with a stiff toothbrush. Brushing the tongue moves stuff around and is helpful, but a tongue scraper is more effective as it clears out the deep deposits and generally keeps the area cleaner, stimulated and alive.

Cravings can be reduced by cleaning the tongue of leftover food. When the mouth can still taste the food, you may experience cravings for previously eaten foods. A tongue scraper reverses the process of desensitizing your taste buds, which has happened to everyone to a greater or lesser extent. It allows you to taste subtle flavors in food so that you can eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains with greater joy and mindfulness.  When old residue is removed from the tongue, you will be better able to taste your food and won’t need to eat as much since you will have gained greater satisfaction from your meal.

Directions:

  • apply a few quick strokes, 2-3 times a day
  • use the rounded cleaning edge to scrape gently down the tongue several times while applying slight pressure
  • rinse under running water and gently scrape again until no white residue is left
  • there should be no pain or gagging involved whatsoever—if you feel any discomfort, you are probably scraping too hard or starting too far back on the tongue.

 Mental/Spiritual Purification Tips – Remind Yourself:

2698_royalty_free_single_emoticon_tongue_out_happy_heart_sticker-r8a316225ecd24cdcaec5d6849277077a_v9w0n_8byvr_324[1]

  • Does what I am about to say improve upon the silence?
  • “What we speak becomes the house we live in.” (Hafiz)
  • Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

 

Namaste v’Shalom!

 

 

The right question

 

question mark in sand

In my Judaism class yesterday, our discussion addressed whether there is meaning behind our actions, rituals, and prayers, or whether they are simply done for the sake of doing them.

This is such an important inquiry. Where is the meaning?  We can apply it to all of our daily actions, be they sacred and religious or mundane.

But I am also aware that HOW we frame our questions and statements has a direct impact on the quality of our answers and the meaning we give  our lives.

Option one: Does this prayer matter?

Option two: How does this prayer resonate for me?

Option one:  Is this ritual  meaningful?

Option two: In what way can I make this ritual meaningful and relevant in my life?

You may notice that option one is more black and white.  Option two offers more freedom, more empowerment.  A potential to step away from your original notion or possible stagnation, to a realm of possibility and growth.

We can also take statements or declarations of which we have been SURE, and flip them into powerful questions.

Option 1: I am too (________) to do (                 ).

Option 2:  Where can I feel my courage? What do I need in order to ___________? Who can I ask for support?

Feel the difference? One is constriction, Mizrayim/Egypt/narrow.  The other is expansive, creative and liberating.

It is fascinating to me!  Just start noticing your questions or statements, and re-frame them to into even better questions.  You will absolutely get more interesting answers and powerful results.

Namaste and l’shalom,

Kendra