Meditation has ancient roots in Jewish tradition and was practiced by the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, prophets and judges, sages and mystics throughout the ages, from Abraham down to our own day (See Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s book: Meditation and the Bible). There are numerous forms of Jewish meditation, some similar to other types practiced in the world, while others, by far the majority, uniquely Jewish in content and form. It is an activity well worth being aquatinted with and practicing, for meditation is a very potent vehicle for getting in touch with the inner self and the Divine soul. Ultimately, the goal of meditation is to come close to and feel the presence of God, as well as to achieve new insight and realization.
Meditative practices can be combined with prayer, introspection, music, dance, artistic endeavors or being in nature. Meditation in Judaism is much more flexible than just sitting silently for a long period of time. Jewish meditation takes many forms and can be practiced as a form of deep concentration and focus along with many of life’s activities.
Meditation is particularly suited for studying Torah as it says in the evening prayers: “We will discuss Your decrees and will rejoice with the words of Your Torah and with Your commandments for all eternity. For they are our life and the length of our days and about them we will meditate day and night.” Meditating on the Torah we learn helps integrate the teachings in a way that they become a real part of our inner consciousness.
A good example of how we can combine meditation with life’s activities can be seen in the similarity between Shabbat observance and meditation. When someone wants to meditate, he or she usually clears their schedules for that time, turns off the radio, TV, cell phone and anything else which may interfere with the quiet and uninterrupted time needed to successfully clear the mind in order to meditate. This is the secret of all the restrictions of Shabbat, which allows us to cut loose of the hustle and bustle of the week, affording us the time and the quiet to enter into a more spiritual and meditative state of consciousness. In this sense Shabbat can be related to as a full day meditation, and all the activities of the day can be approached from a relaxed, peaceful and sacred mind space.
The Ohr Chadash Meditation link hopes to present a wide array of examples as how meditation can be used to enrich our lives, giving us tools from the practical to the mystical.