Category Archives: Meditation

Soul-Centered Living

It takes courage to embrace the unknown and to find our way in new situations. Change can be scary and confusing. We must find “ground” first to calm down, so that the fear based part of the brain is not the only thing controlling our behavior. I call that part of the brain, the F brain; fear, fight, flight and freeze.
Mysticism and Kabbalah mentor us to find our soul-center so we can stay settled in the calm and peace of our soul, especially when we are feeling scared and confused. Mystical practices teach us ways to bring more calm to the body-mind and foster remembering and understanding of the underlying deep interconnection of all things. 

I am leading a weekend retreat March 3-5 at Kripalu to explore the relationship between mysticism, religion, spiritual practice, and happiness.
This holistic retreat provides a direct approach to living authentically and cultivating peace and well-being in all aspects of your daily life. I will explain complex concepts and guide healing contemplative practices that focus on reducing discontent and strengthening trust in your authentic experience. Practice transformative meditations, relaxation, and self-inquiry to point the way toward wonder, enjoyment, ease, and contentment.

I hope to see you there.
Blessings,  Rabbi Sigal
Sh’ma Meditation Retreat for soul-centered living at Kripalu, March 3-5.

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Contact us when you are ready for individual mentoring. Sigal has room for a few new students

Seeding a Soul Inspired Life

The time has come to seed the garden of your life with new soul inspired seeds.

Tu Bishvat (15th day in the month of Shevat) is almost here.  Under a full moon next shabbat we will celebrate Tu Bishvat (Friday night 2/10.) I hope you can make time to quiet down and contemplate seeding soul inspired seeds. What hopes and dreams are hidden in your soul this winter? What do you sense and imagine could bloom in your life when Spring arrives?

Tu Bishvat is a celebration of trees and nature. The trees are very internal this time of year. Perhaps they are too are dreaming and growing with strength. Readying themselves to burst with beauty in Spring.

Why do we take time to do inner work? Why should we sit quietly and meditate and simply make time to be? Because like trees even before the thawing and the blooming, we become alive from the inside out. Now is the time for deep inner growing; dreaming and imagining.

THE PRACTICE:

We begin by imagining the fruits we want to bring to fruition. What will you grow? Sit and become quiet to reflect on what you love; discern the desires of your heart. What is your heart’s desire?

Now, when you have a sense of what are your soul inspired seeds, your heart seeds, write them down. You may discover seeds you didn’t know were hidden within. You may want to make a list of them and read it over to see which are the ones with more pull. Keep the list and choose to reflect more on 2-3 of them. Attend to them. Nourish and water these seeds. Try to make time for dreaming and listening carefully to each.

Identify the necessary conditions to help your heart seeds grow and come to life. What are the approach you need to apply? What are the attitudes and actions you will take, or avoid, to support the growth?

Don’t rush. It is still winter. on Tu Bishvat the trees only begin to wake up and the sap begins to flow. Be patient and generous like a tall and strong tree. You have plenty of time to seed and germinate until Spring (Passover.) Don’t rush. Take all the time you need, but remain focused.

May your heart seeds germinate, take root and grow well. May they grow into a beautiful Spring garden and reward you with the delicious fruits and fill your life with beauty and peace. Enjoy!

I hope to see you soon at the Meditation Gatherings in February and Meditation Retreat at Kripalu, March 3-5. Please see dates and information below.

Many blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Who are we going to be?

thankful-for-kindness-generosity-appreciation-kindness“Where it’s hard to love, let’s love harder.” Van Jones
Feelings & opinions are expressed strongly. We are quickly losing our sense of decency and respect in this political climate where we stand in opposing positions and fight for what we believe is right. I am not skilled in politics, I am a rabbi, I listen to people’s hearts & stay attuned to what is whole and what is broken in our spirit and soul. I feel the acute hurt, despair, stress and pain felt by many.
The question is: who are we going to be? To be able to move forward as a civilized society and get where we want, we must listen and welcome all of us with kindness, patience, and we must, must keep destructive anger, blame and shame as methods of change and persuasion in check. 

Will we be able to exercise vigilance and actively work together to call all of us back to respect, civility and tolerance?
Can we pray together and remember our sea selves no matter what comes?
Can we hope and trust just a little? Can we remember that
generosity
appreciation  
kindness 
and dignity 
reside in our own hearts, and our hands, or no place at all? 

Can we remember that there are still beauty and love in the world for us to enjoy?
YES WE CAN!
Let’s go to the wells that nourish us, invite those with opposing views to come with us, and together drink deeply, talk, listen and mend.
I pray for peace dear friends. Peace and wellbeing for all.
Ose shalom bimromav hu yase shalom al- kulam.
Blessings and love, Rabbi Sigal

Retreat with Rabbi Sigal

How to let go and be turned

horn_and_pomagranite

Hashivaynu e’lecha ve’nashuvah  Come let us turn, return, and be turned to the one.

 

After Teshuvah, the willful work of turning and returning, we let go of preconceived notions of what we are and how life should be. We breathe, relax and allow life to unfold for us. The more we allow ourselves to be turned, the more we are home.

Our attempts at prayer for help, as it is with any action, is motivated by our belief, laden with guilt, that we need to do something and that belief causes us to never let go or relax. We are always doing, trying, controlling and seeking to get better, farther, etc. Most often we forget to stop after we ask to feel the effect of our “doing” and to let help, joy and life in. We are habituated to do and we rarely surrender long enough to be turned and be at home.

The Jewish New Year is here to remind us to wake up and stop the doing and the trying so we could be turned. At the beginning of a new year, willing to be transformed and with hope we stand at a new beginning pregnant with possibilities. We pray and ask to be turned and retuned to the home of our souls. (You may have more specific prayers in your heart for happiness, health, peace, prosperity etc.) I hope you can stop doing and listen deeply and pray for an opening in the heart, so you could be turned to more fully appreciate the gift of this life.

With humility and with hope in our hearts we allow ourselves to fall into the mystery of it all and enjoy the ride guided only by our desire to love this life before it is too late.

Shuvah, it’s time to come home.

Besefer haim tekateyvu vetechatymu. May we all be inscribed in the book of good life.

I wish you and yours a sweet and healthy new year and wonderful holiday celebrations.

Blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Forgiveness, the return

The full moon of Elul is hanging in the night’s sky beckoning us to come home. We are two weeks away from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

To truly have a fresh start and return to the home of our soul we must forgive. We forgive the hope for a better past so we can live well now and in the future.

We have been turning our attention toward home with Elul practices. We spent time at the wellspring of our hearts remembering what we love, what is important to us and what brings us alive. When we remember home and long to return, we feel the strong pull of our desire to be home. Even when it’s hard to manage through the work of forgiveness, the sweet memory and feeling of being at home with ourselves and in the world encourages us to do the work. We trust our stamina and commitment to do the work of forgiveness so we could live our highest aspirations and honor the desires of our hearts more each day. (if you missed it see: Shuvah, it’s time to come home post)

This week we reflect on: What is in the way? What is between home and us? How do we leave the unhelpful habits, partly unconscious? How do we let go? What do we need to release? How do we decide what to let go of and what to keep?

Madison Taylor writes: “One of the hardest things in life is feeling stuck in a situation that we don’t like and want to change. We may have exhausted ourselves trying to figure out how to make change, and we may even have given up. If we tend to regard ourselves as having failed, this will block our ability to allow ourselves to succeed. We have the power to change the story we tell ourselves by acknowledging that in the past, we did our best, and we exhibited many positive qualities, and had many fine moments on our path to the present moment.”

Each year we are given the opportunity to review our lives and renew our resolve to change. The New Year is a call to open to the possibilities, the help and the hope to make the changes we need to make to live more fully from the heart. When we honestly and kindly review the past year, we make it possible to open to new ways in the new year. Welcoming an inner shift to allow us to get out of the cycle we’ve been in that’s been keeping us stuck.

After the reviewing it’s time to open the heart with forgiveness. To loosen the knots of shame, blame, regret, self-hatred, not good enough and other sticky patterns of thinking and feeling. All those feelings and thoughts about ourselves and others keep us separated from the home of our soul; our joy, ease and fulfillment. 

Practice:

Imagine you are holding a pebble or a stone in you hand, clutching around a painful feelings or beliefs. Notice what you are holding on to. What has hardened and stuck to you? Notice your breathing. Now, begin opening the hand that has been holding on for too long and inquire to see what is in the pebble you are holding on to. What feeling, belief, resentment, blame… invite the hand to open and release it. Toss it, send it with kindness and care, and feel the room it leaves behind. Feel how the stones you release want to return to the river of life. Be gentle and go slow. It may bring up unpleasant or pleasant feelings with it. Acknowledge it is hard to let go and make a change, even in our imagination. Breathe, notice the space and feel. It will take time to become comfortable being with space after the release, because it is new and unfamiliar. You can repeat several times and make time to practice this daily in the next two week.

We release the past and open to new possibilities in the new year.

Join us for inspiring and musical High Holy Days services in Abington, PA.  We meet at the beautiful Abington Art Center.      Details

Shuvah, it’s time to come home

14102337_10210158582022415_7381141147933418140_nElul the month preceding the New Year is dedicated to returning to love.

How do we orient back to Love, balance and peace? What do you do to shepherd yourself back to the home of your soul? What makes you turn and return? And what calls you to begin the process of Teshuvah?

At this time of year we count down the days through the month of Elul to a New Jewish Year and open, realign, and balance our lives with what we love and with our heart’s desires and purpose.

I want to offer here, in the series of few weekly posts, some of what I teach in Kabbalah as a mindful mysticism for soul-centered living. I utilize a holistic and direct approach to cultivating wholeness and happiness through insight, meditation and contemplation. I invite you to explore the landscape of your soul and your life, and inspire your heart to occupy itself more fully through this process with self-inquiry and care until the Jewish New Year in October. May you be inspired to open the heart with forgiveness, identify patterns of discontent and misalignment, and experience healing as you return to natural balance more each day.

“Eliminate something superfluous from your life. Break a habit. Do something that makes you feel insecure.” Piero Ferrucci

It is a time for turning. In this first week of Elul we remember the love and feel the gratitude in our hearts while we extend kindness to our body-minds and invite it to turn. We begin within and let it slowly ripple out into the world around us. You may wonder, what do we turn to? What or where is the home of our soul? Well, let the inquiry begin.

This week we spend time at the wellspring of our heart to remember what we love. We recall what is important and what brings us alive. The turning is a kind of remembering and orienting to the desire of the heart. This remembering is the foundation necessary to establish safety and secure feeling as we begin to undo the knots through forgiveness and change. The anchor is a constant reminder and a desire as we do the challenging work of Teshuvah.

Ask yourself why. To what end do you wish to engage in this process of reflection? Why are you open to doing this challenging work to let go, release and change? Or in other words, what is that you want to feel, know, experience in your life, which is now obscured or missing?

I invite you to take time in the next few days to reflect on the highlights of the past year, or longer if necessary. What do you remember and what can you learn from how you felt, who you been with, where it was and when? Write down what you remember about those times and how they made you feel. Reflect on it and let it open a gate to the garden of your heart. Sit and dwell in your garden and in the presence of what makes you happy and how it feels when you feel connected, at peace, safe, cared for or other feelings related to the sense of being settled and secure at home.

We are preparing the ground for the transformative effect of the season. Next week we will dive into forgiveness.

I wish you a wonderful time of discovery and falling in love with yourself and your life. Ani ledodi ve’dodi li, I’m my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. 

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Instead of setting goals, set the right conditions

Set the right conditions to manifest your heart’s desires

On a retreat the conditions are set perfectly right for reflection, contemplation and transformation. I am back from magical week at Kripalu Center in MA where I taught two meditative and empowering retreats. The biggest learning we can gain from a retreat, after we open to our own heart’s desire, and understand why we want to make changes, is how to set the conditions for such desires to successfully unfold into our lives.

Participants’ feedback notes with reflections about the retreats touch my heart. They read more like love letters with a renewed awareness of self love and care. Thank you all for your courage to open your hearts to yourselves, each other, and the teachings.

conditions

The Teachings:

No matter how profound the “ah ha” moment is or how clear are the insights, those seeds will take root and grow only if the proper conditions and environment are provided. The conditions we provide for the seeds will determine if they will live and thrive or be forgotten.

Although it is very important, the call of the heart’s desire is only the beginning. It points and guides the way to loving self-care, giving proper attention, and cultivating nourishing behaviors and practices so the seeds can grow. Unless we listen to the call of the heart and commit to take the steps and actions to fulfill it, noting will begin to change.

Take small steps toward self love and care.

Remember why you are doing what you are doing and structure practices to support you living the lifestyle that supports living from your heart. Resolve to keep your commitments through the laziness, negative thoughts, discomfort, forgetting, and resistance. It takes time to create new habits. Make small, measurable and reachable targets so you can reach them and build on your success.

Use tools of remembering; wear a Zigizen necklace with a daily affirmation close to your heart, and set an alarm every hour to breath relaxing breaths for a minute.

Develop new supportive habits; taking walks, listening to, or reading, inspiring ideas, keep a gratitude list, meditate for 10 minutes twice a day, resolve to take 3 yoga classes a week, and eat well.

May you remember your heart’s desire and allow it to guide your life, and may the commitment and effort you invest in setting the right conditions bring about the effect you desire in your life. May joy and ease abound.

Mentoring individual and small groups 

Join us at next retreat at Kripalu Center in Mass USA

 Kabbalah Retreats for Ease and Contentment

New with Rabbi Sigal in 2016:

Online meditation groups – let us know if you are interested

Mini retreats in NYC, Philadelphia, & other locations – More details are forthcoming

RESOURCES:

Zigizen Necklaces  Amazon.com

Hebrew and English chants, Rabbi Sigal’s CDs to support your practice