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

Tzav & The Offerings of Gratitude

flame in the heartD’var Torah – Parashat Tzav

 

Live your life CHARGED with gratitude.  Actively seek out the blessings in your life, however large or small.  And don’t delay.  Right now is all you have. 

 

For the second week in a row, our Torah presents a detailed description of the ritual of sacrifice.  First in the Mishkan in the wilderness, and later in the Temple of Jerusalem. Some of these offerings, or korbanot, were created to atone for sin, or to elevate the soul when missing the mark. But there was another type of sacrifice as well… one that arises from a sense of wholeness and wellbeing  – this is called the Korban Todah, or Thanksgiving offering.  Rather than an expression of human shortcomings, this offering was meant as a response to the abundant goodness of God.

You might find it interesting that the Hebrew root of the word Korban means “to bring close.”  The Korban Todah supports our mindfulness. It brings us closer to our blessings, to others, to our deepest selves, and to the Master Creator of all this magnificence!

The rabbinical teachings guide us to express our thanks through prayer, acknowledging every detail of the abundance in our lives – but too often, we neglect these basic yet profound gifts, as we let the sufferings of life overwhelm our appreciation.

However, when we recite blessings, either from a prayer book or spontaneously from the heart, we remind ourselves to slow down…. to practice hakarat hatov…as we recognize the good that we already have … an adequate meal, a supportive friendship, a loving family member…. we may see a brilliant sunset, notice the sweet chorus of springtime birds, or the artful canvas of flowers smiling up at the sun.

When we take a moment, just a moment, to step outside the routine or our lives to give thanks, we make the ordinary extraordinary.  We begin to live from a place of faith and trust in the inherent goodness that life so graciously offers us.

In Leviticus it says, “and the flesh of his thanksgiving sacrifice of wellbeing shall be eaten on the day that it is offered. None shall be set aside until morning.”   None shall be set aside until morning.  It takes no stretch of the imagination to understand that there were probably some food safety regulations happening…but let’s look at this through evolving and contemplative eyes.  This can be interpreted as a command to enjoy the blessings of this day, in this moment, because it’s the only moment there is.

So let’s live each day anew, as we seek out places of beauty and reasons to celebrate, even in the midst of life’s challenges.

In Torah commentary it is said that “the fire of the altar must be paralleled by a fire in the heart.”  On this Shabbat, let us not wait until the morning to give thanks that are due today.  Let us share our love and praise for others. . Let us take that extra moment to appreciate the breath that fills our bodies so generously.    On this Shabbat, let us sing, dance, and live our lives charged with gratitude, knowing right now is all we have.  Today and every day, let each of us ignite the world with the fires of our own Korban Todah.

 

Namaste and L’Shalom.

 

©2016/5776 Kendra Fried/Neshamah Yoga, and Karen Goldberg