Another important way to learn to hear one’s inner song and the music inherent in the soul is through meditation. By quieting the mind and obstructing outer distractions and inner static we begin to hear music on multi levels: in our biological rhythm of the beating of the heart and the pulsating blood through our veins and the humming of our breathe; in the music of vibrating energy in the matter all around us; in the music of the soul as it dances and longs to unite with its beloved Creator and the song of God animating and giving life force to all creation. The inner song and music of the soul can only be heard when we turn off the noise all around us and the constant monologue in our minds and tune into our essential self and its ultimate source in God.
Meditative practices can be combined with prayer, or with music, or by uniting all three activities together in such a way that each compliments and strengthens the overall potency of the experience. 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.
The infinite essence of God and His will is revealed in the letters, words, mitzvot and stories in the Torah. By attuning our lives to the mitzvot and living according to the Torah cycles of time we align ourselves with a Divine rhythm. The weekly cycle of Shabbat, the Jewish calendar arranged according to the waxing and waning of the moon, the holidays and their intrinsic connection to the changing seasons, all link us to God’s rhythm and Divine plan for creation.
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. It is no surprise then that one of the favorite activities of Shabbat is singing. Even synagogues that have little or no singing during weekday services incorporate song into the prayers, and the meals of Shabbat are accompanied by joyous group singing. The songs of the third and last meal of Shabbat are usually of the more meditative style and are tinged with a bit of melancholy for the beloved Shabbat which is about to depart. These songs express the great longing of the soul to be holy and for the time that will be “all Shabbat.”
Through pursuing a life of holiness and purity we create proper vessels for God’s light and are able to be a chariot for Divine Providence. Paradoxically, by living a Torah life with its manifold mitzvot defining most every area of life we sharpen and clarify our own free will and the ability to act in the world according to our highest ideals and dreams. Music, meditation, prayer and Torah study ultimately need to merge together and be used to consciously assist us in bringing out our latent potential, in order to rectify and accomplish our purpose in this world.