Thoughts from a practitioner
There are many meditation techniques one can practice and every meditator’s experience is different so these are just my opinions.
Paul Margolis shares his thoughts on Jewish Meditation practices. Paul is Fabrangener who frequently participates in our 9:00 a.m. Saturday Morning Meditation, led by Dale Lupu and Richard Gladstein.
Vipassana and Guided Meditation
Judaism can be very mental and logically oriented. There are forms of meditation that are insight oriented and contemplative. One could meditate on the meaning of loving G-d with all your being. Many of Dale and Richard’s meditation topics are wonderful starting places. Guided meditations are generally contemplative. Dale occasionally leads wonderful guided meditations.
Shamata and Counting Meditation
Stopping (shamata) style meditation lets us become aware and free ourselves for a short period of the usual thought process sometimes referred to as monkey-mind. It gives us the chance to experience the lack of solidity of our emotions, our problems, even any pain in the body. In this technique we gently notice that we are thinking and return our attention to the breath or counting. Practicing compassion toward ourselves helps us develop compassion for every one else since monkey-mind and suffering are universal. For those of us who make a living by thinking it seems very appropriate on Shabbat to give yourself a break for a while.
Meditation allows one to experience the timeless eternal quality of Shabbat (and all of reality) since it messes with one’s experience of time. Sometimes a short period appears long and a sometimes a long period appears short when meditating. Meditation is a chance to really experience the moment and our environment without all our thoughts about it and therefore fully experience the Creation which we celebrate on Shabbat.
Tong-Len and Metta Meditation
Meditation where one imagines transforming suffering to happiness(tong-len) is a way to develop compassion for all people. This is very similar to sending positive energy to others that occurs at Fabrangen during the Priestly benediction, but while meditating you can do this as long as you wish. In metta meditation one imagines sending positive energy to an ever expanding circle of people starting with those closest to us and proceeding to strangers.
Meditation on Death
Meditation on our death is a helpful way to clarify and focus our intention to be of benefit to others, the importance of our actions and how we direct our energies. It is as much a way to prepare ourselves for life as it is for death.
Meditation is the Best!
I think meditation is complementary to prayer. Although it need not be focused on G-d, meditation develops personal responsibility, discipline, gentleness, self acceptance, peace, compassion, appreciation and a sense of belonging. Meditation is the greatest of G-d’s blessings that we can give to ourselves! The meditation group would love to have anyone interested join us.”
Paul Margolis, October 28, 2013