Category Archives: Mendful Path

It’s Mending Time

Together we mend our lives and the world. One conversation, one action, one commitment, one small step at a time.

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More than ever, the world is calling us to fulfill our mission of Tikkun Olam.

Tikkun Olam is rooted in Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah and is summoning us to strive toward repair, healing and mending the world.

Disconnect and loneliness are common now a days and we need to find ways to bring our attention together for caring conversations. To reconnect and begin to mend our feelings of brokenness and separation.

With Mendful, a new word I coined, I hope to communicate a big idea in a simple and direct way.
MENDFUL, describes in a word a healing mindset.  A cluster of ideas and attitudes informing a mending and healing way of being. 

I hope MENDFUL the new mind set becomes a primary m i n d s e t  for healing ourselves and the world. In Mendful I combine several ideas and attitudes to reclaim our connectivity and humanity. Among them are: kindness, mindfulness, gracefulness, heartfulness, caring conversations, listening, sharing, patience, authenticity, creativity, remembering our deep interconnectedness, generosity, receptivity, forgiveness, compassion and peace.

Let’s gather, connect and mend… Please join us in cultivating and spreading mendfulness and healing our hearts and the world. We gather to meditate, pray, learn and engage in healing conversations. We are bringing more people to the conversation with virtual forums and resources, and we hope you join us.

NEXT LEARNING ONLINE:

Mendful Meditation with Rabbi Sigal Thursday, May 3rd 8:30 PM EST (Free)

What we need is TIME TO MEND …  A unique opportunity to learn with Rabbi Sigal online. Join us to learn how to relax, feel less burdened, breathe a little easier, mend and heal.

Signup to receive a reminder and log in information for session. Invite your friends.

Mendful Living Mentoring with Rabbi Sigal for individuals and small groups. contact us for details and to schedule a free 15 minutes consultation for new students.

Ease into Messiness

Why Seder?

Seder in Hebrew means orderliness.

Messiness is life. Humans have been talking and writing about chaos and messiness for thousands of years. It has always been a part of our experience and motivated us to change. With determination and creativity we seek to bring about more order.

Out of chaos the Earth was formed, a few ancient myths of creation tell us, the Genesis narrative among them. The goal of these stories is to make sense of the unknown and to organize. The general thrust of these myths is that an all-knowing and powerful God takes charge of chaos and with superb wisdom was able to organize the world and guide it. (Don’t you sometimes wish your world could be effortlessly and efficiently organized like that?)

But still, even with a super powerful deity, the messy story continues. Our human experience is a chain of messes, monumental ones and smaller ones; personal, communal and environmental. To help us cope with this reality, many aspects of every religion are dedicated to organization and order. For example: rituals, laws, governance etc. They serve a purpose.

We don’t like messiness and we want to have more control because we are uncomfortable with the unknown. We like things to be more predictable, known, so they are less anxiety provoking. We don’t like surprises. Or maybe we like only good surprises. (Although, some of us rather not even experience those.) In our age, when anxiety is a prevalent condition, a pause of “Seder” of ease and enjoyment is a welcomed remedy.

When we clean and prepare for Passover with anticipation for a night of orderliness (Seder) we remember messiness is part of life, but we also remember our ability to bring about order. We are able to shape and control space and time (i.e, ritual.)

The Jewish year cycle of holidays invites us to routinely encounter themes on the map of human and societal needs. Spring holidays are opportunities for cleaning, organizing and celebrating order and openness. An invitation to remember that having order and routines can be supportive to us spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Predictability that comes with orderliness allows the body-mind to relax on all levels. It is relaxing when the amount of decisions we need to make is reduced. At the Seder we can lean back, sing, eat and enjoy. The order of the Seder, the meal and the story are basically prescribed, although many embellish on it for fun. The Seder ritual gives us the permission to effortlessly “ride” it to the end of the evening and declare it complete.

I hope you can enjoy the evening of order and ease. When we are at ease we open more fully and enjoy the mystery of life. Because, after all, life is a wonderful mystery, and with all the control we try to exercise, it’s messy and we don’t fully know. It may sound contradictory but, the more we ease into messiness, accepting life is an unknown mystery, the less anxiety we experience. In a way, reducing our angsts about needing to control everything, combined with some preparation and orderliness, allows us to relax into the mystery with more ease, and awe. That, my friends, is freedom.

I wish you a holiday of ease and contentment. Dayenu!

Does It Spark Joy? Spiritual Preparation for Passover

When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.” Marie Kondo, in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Even in the process of cleaning and organizing we examine our relationship to things, people, physical space and inner states. In the process of choosing we remember, sort through and choose. To what will you say yes, and to what will say no?

Hello Mendful Springtime!

Where spirituality meets Spring cleaning.

Cleaning for Passover is my favorite ritual of Spring. Each year I rediscover how cleaning with a purpose makes a huge difference in my life on a few levels. Preparing for the first night of Passover, the Seder (in Hebrew means order) is a journey of putting things in order. The yearly ritual of preparing is much more complicated compared to the Seder ritual, which is relatively simple and it has a script (Hagaddah books!)

Spring cleaning can be a transformative endeavor even before the holiday begins, if we do it right. Scrubbing, removing, discarding, cleaning and rearranging our living spaces has the potential to refocus and give us a new sense of freedom and ready us for something new. All this physical work can however obscure the opportunity to attend to our inner clutter of thoughts and beliefs, unless we use the process as a reminder and intend to include examining the inner landscape along with the physical cleaning.

It is hard to let go, but you’ll be glad you did. Marie Kondo suggests an efficient process by which we can select the things we want to keep. She suggests we use this simple question as a filter criterion, “Does it spark joy?” While Kondo’s book is primarily focused on how to tidy up one’s physical environment, her guidance can be metaphorically superimposed over the concept of clearing out inner clutter as well.

Marie writes, “There are several common patterns when it comes to discarding. One is to discard things when they cease being functional—for example, when something breaks down beyond repair or when part of a set is broken. Another is to discard things that are out of date, such as clothes that are no longer in fashion or things related to an event that has passed. It’s easy to get rid of things when there is an obvious reason for doing so.” Marie invites people to ask themselves, “Does this item spark joy?”
Let’s begin to clear our environments and attend to inner clearing   so we could forge a path to freedom and ease.  To remember what we cherish and remove what does not work or useful any longer. To better choose how, with who and with what we want to spend our time and resources. May you find mendful paths to more freedom and may life and all you do and have spark more joy.

I wish you meaningful cleaning and organizing, and a joyous budding of Spring’s renewal.

Resolve to Be Mendful in 2018

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We are the clay, and life, the potter’s hands.

Life changes and shapes us into what we are over our lifetime. Remember the times you softly surrendered into the hands of change like soft clay and allowed life to transform you? And do you also remember how at other times your vessel cracked or broke?

Leonard Cohen says: “There is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.” The Japanese design concept called Kintsugi, repairing broken pottery with liquid metal, makes them more beautiful by highlighting the cracks and the place of mending. Rabbinic lore from 2000 years ago tells us the broken Tablets; Moses broke when he saw the people built a golden calf and worship it, when he came down from Mount Sinai the first time, are kept in the Ark of the Covenant along with the second Tablets engraved with the 10 commandments.

These are all beautiful inspirations to encourage us to embrace our brokenness, to stop hiding our humanity and to stop avoiding a fuller life. All brokenness, imperfections and pain are parts of our lives. Instead of living afraid to make mistakes, contemplate how you could live more mendfully this year. Instead of being afraid of breaking, although we have been broken before and survived, and are surely to break and hurt again. With it all, can we resolve to love ourselves, to embrace others, brokenness, scars and all?

I am writing this as we are entering a new year, 2018. I want to remind us not to begin a new year with a list of all the ways we are not good enough, broken, wrong and disappointing. You know what I’m talking about, the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, harshly aiming to fix all that is wrong and unacceptable in us.

But aren’t you doing the same each year and fail? You make a list and very quickly forget it and feel disappointed in yourself? Adding more bad feelings and shame and blame onto the pile of what’s wrong with you already. Turns out that instead of growing self love and being helpful, we grow self hatred and discontent in each passing year. Can we resolve to not use self deprecating and hating statements in an attempt to improve? How about resolving to include only resolutions that resonate as expression of the following: I love you and I care for you. We can try to apply changes, but also remember to not try so hard, guarding against causing more breaking instead of cultivating mending.

Please proceed with caution and be gently to avoid causing more harm within you and around you, even if it means not improving and stepping slowly into making big changes. Unless we all take the mendful path, choosing at each step to mend, no real healing and change will be possible.

Consider your motivations and set the right conditions. Use affirmations to bring you back to love and care and follow the words with healthy actions to mend body, heart, mind and spirit.

I wish us all a mendful 2018!

I am here to help you individually and in groups, virtually, online and in person.

I look forward to connecting with you in 2018.

Love and blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Mendful living is here for you. Please join us to mend our world and us.
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Instead of setting goals, set optimal conditions

When I prepare to lead retreats and before we gather in groups or meet one on one,  I meditate on how to best create a loving and engaged learning community. I begin by reviewing past experiences to evaluate how to best set the conditions for meaningful and transformative work. Recently I read students’ reflections about working with me. They touched my heart. They read  like love letters with renewed hope, awareness and commitment to self love and care. I feel grateful to be able to contribute in this way to my students’ lives and I’m inspired by my students’ courage to open their hearts to themselves, each other, and the experience, and to bring their learning home to affect a sustainable difference in their lives.

I am glad to be able to create the optimal conditions with others to allow for learning, reflection, contemplation and transformation. And yet, no matter how profound the “ah ha” moments are or how clear are the insights, those “ah ha” seeds will take root and grow into our daily lives only if we set the conditions and environment right. The conditions along with the heartfelt intention to thrive will determine if the seed will flourish or die.

The biggest benefit of a concentrated experience like a retreat, aside from having fun, is having the time and guidance to learn from experiential methods. With the right guidance it can help us open to our authentic nature and our heart’s desire. Paired with the commitment to pursue our desires, it motivates us to discern and decide how to set the optimal conditions to successfully unfold the desires into our lives.

Where do we begin?

Knowing our heart’s desire is only the beginning. It points the way to loving self-care, giving proper attention, and cultivating nourishing behaviors and practices for the seeds to grow. Unless we listen to the call of the heart and commit to taking the steps and actions to fulfill it, it will be hard to affect change.

          Take small steps of self love and care on the mendful path

Remember why you are doing what you are doing and structure time for practices that support you living the lifestyle that supports living from your heart. Resolve to keep your commitments when resistance, negative thoughts, discomfort and forgetting arises. Be patient. It will take time to adjust and cultivate new habits. Make small, measurable and reachable expectations, endure and focus until you meet them and continue building on your success.

Use tools of remembering; write a Post-it note, write in your daily calendar, and write in a small scroll that you can wear in a Zigizen necklace with a daily affirmation close to your heart. Set a reminder alarm on your phone every hour or so to breath relaxing breaths for a minute and repeat the affirmation or simply breathe and settle into a moment of stillness.

Develop new supportive habits; I find that daily “refilling activities” are centering and helpful. I like taking walks, riding a bike, sitting in a sauna or a hot tub, listening to or reading inspiring thoughts, writing a gratitude list, and meditating into stillness for 10 minutes throughout the day. Also, resolving to participate in group activities to support you like yoga classes and inviting others to walk or meditate with you can be helpful and supportive.

May you remember your heart’s desire each day and allow the seeds of your intention grow and guide your life, and may the time and effort in supportive conditions blossom into what you desire in your life. May ease and contentment find you.

Mentoring individual and small groups 

Online meditation groups – let us know if you are interested

RESOURCES:

Zigizen Necklaces  Amazon.com

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

Paving a Mendful Path with Questions

How do you orient back to love, balance and peace? What do you do? Is there a special way you shepherd yourselves back to wholeness and kindness? What could help you find a mendful path in your life? Can you discern what calls you back to the home of contentment and peace, despite the disappointments and heart breaks? Is there anything that beacons you to begin anew with hope and passion in your heart?

By now, reading all these questions you may think: Rabbi, why are you asking so many questions, it’s  not Passover.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Albert Einstein

Questions are vehicles born of curiosity to carry us back home to wonder, peace, appreciation, contentment, innovation and joy. Some of the biggest discoveries and inventions in many fields of study and life happen after long periods of inquiry and contemplation. 

We pave a hopeful MENDFUL PATH as we open, realign, and balance our lives with what we love and with our hearts’ desire and purpose. We ask and consider what we and others love and need. We ask how can we help, serve, live more fully, bring more to life. We ask new and old questions and contemplate possible answers and responses.

Questions are essential in the process of mending and healing. So much so that I am thinking that maybe we should declare 2018  A YEAR OF QUESTIONS! To dedicate and focus our attention to opening to new possibilities, to ask new questions, to become unstuck and more free to explore. Asking, conversing, connecting, and more actively offering fresh ideas to solving core problems and see in new ways our lives and our world.

In Kabbalah, mindful mysticism for soul-centered living, we are invited to venture to the unknown and risk, yes risk by trusting in the mystery.  Kabbalah is a way to ask questions with curiosity seeing beyond the veil of what is known, into new fields of  possibilities within our souls, our lives, world and universe.

I invite you to explore the landscape of your soul and your life, and inspire your heart to occupy itself more fully from now and into the the new year. Join me for special retreat at Kripalu Center (October 17-19) where we will journey and learn together. We will share in learning and practicing mendful living methods with self-inquiry and self care.

May we be inspired to open our hearts and ask elucidating questions, be extra curious and open, contemplate possibilities in conversations with others, meditate, reflect, identify patterns, think and act mindfully, and experience new levels of healing and mending.

I wish you a wonderful time of discovery and falling in love with yourself and your life and all your beloveds and all the beauty and joy you can experience. 

Blessings, Rabbi Sigal

See when are the next Kripalu Retreats with Rabbi Sigal

Building a Shelter of Healing and Peace

We enter the gates of Sukkot tonight. The week long harvest holiday of thanksgiving. With the full moon rising into the cool evening air, we gather in the fragile and beautiful temporary huts (sukkah in Hebrew) to be together. With gratitude for what we have and share, this year we also enter Sukkot with a heaviness in our hearts. The horrific violence in Las Vegas has shaken us to our core. We keep in our hearts and prayers all those who have been hurt directly and indirectly by the shooting.

In tragic times like these we feel our vulnerability. Can you pause for a moment to feel your sadness and shock and notice how along with that arises a movement in the heart with the desire to heal and mend? Can you allow yourself to feel the co-arising of all these movements and feelings for a moment? How will we use those feelings as motivators to act and do more to mend and heal our hearts and our society? My hope and prayer is that it motivates us to collectively do more to keep the peace and share the love in any way we can.

Please  join us for meditation and study online and in person in Pennsylvania and at Kripalu Center. A  Mendful Path Meditation and learning is on going in Elkins Park.

You are invited to Kesher Shalom interactive gatherings.

May sukkat shalom, shelter of peace and healing spread over us and our world.

Together we build a sukkah of loving kindness and peace. Niveneh Sukkat hesed veshalom.
I wish you a joyful and safe holiday.

Blessings and Love, Rabbi Sigal

Tashlich – Reclaiming Our Humanity

9/11, recent conflicts and natural disasters are keeping us praying for someone or someplace. Each morning I give thanks for a new day and commit to finding ways to be mendful, connected, helpful and kind.

Tragic events remind us time and time again that we are all in this together.  It highlights for us that our time here is precious and ultimately fleeting. We all take turns being in the frontline of disaster, of loss, in acute stress and in being free from acute stress and danger.

Unfortunately, sometimes we forget and withhold our love and care from self and others. We hold ourselves back from life’s joys and kindness. We hold ourselves separate, holding on to judgement and criticism instead of loving. The natural disasters of late have been bringing us closer together as we experience our fragility, first hand or vicariously.

This time of year in the Jewish calendar we review and reclaim our humanity: our belonging and sharing in the human tribe. It gives us an opportunity to contemplate how we belong and how we hold ourselves apart. For so many of us, with our lists of “should” and culture telling us we need to deny our authentic experience, we sometimes buy into a preconceived notion of what is right and should make us happy. We can lose our way even when we are together.

Why are we focusing on the denial of our human experience?  Why shame, judgement, guilt and anger? Why the withholding of love? What is in the way of feeling connected, cared for and caring?  How can we relax a bit and trust ourselves and each other more? What do we need to release? And mostly, what do  we need to forgive ourselves for? And what forgiveness can we extend to others?

Tashlich is a ritual of release that we participate in during Rosh Hashanah. I want to offer this practice of release to use during the days leading to the Jewish New Year. It can also be used anytime of year to help you release. Tashlich is traditionally done with breadcrumbs that are cast into a natural body of water. I am offering a variation on it here with imaginary or real rocks, pebbles, or other natural materials.

Any Day PRACTICE:
Imagine you are holding a stone in your hand, or actually holding one, and bring it close to your heart. Feel it as a heaviness in your emotional heart, a burden you are carrying in your chest, painful feelings or a belief. What burdens are you carrying in your heart? The rock in your hand can be something which is hard for you to let go of,  something you want or need to release. This hand gesture symbolizes your willingness to release and ask for help. You are willing  to stop carrying the worry, the secret, the shame and give it up to make room for the joys of life. Give attention to and notice what you are holding and how you are holding back within yourself and in your life. What has hardened and closed your heart? What have you been feeling shame about? How are you holding yourself separate?

Notice your breathing and relax with the closed fist by your chest until it is clear what you are holding. Begin opening your hand and prepare to release it when you are ready. Toss it, send it with kindness and care into the river of life and feel the effect of the release. Feel how the stones you release return to the river of life and find their place washed anew and cleansed. Be gentle and go slow. It may bring up unpleasant (or pleasant) feelings that are hard to face or hard to let go. You may want to grab them back or hold onto them. One by one, repeat as many times as you wish, until you feel it is working. All the things that need to be released at this time are forgiven and set free.

Forgiveness is when we forgive the hope for a better past so we can live well now and in the future.

21 days to Rosh Hashanah

How I love the beautiful nights at the end of Summer. The growing moon above is beckoning us to gather a few more sun rays and a couple more days at the beach, to store within for the approaching cold of winter. In a few days, the full moon of the month of Elul will hang in the night’s sky (eve of  Sept 5th.) It will be the last full moon of summer.

All these signs in nature are  telling us: we are 21 days away from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year 5778. (Guided Experience at bottom or here)

The invitation of the Jewish New Year is to truly have a fresh start; to review, organize and prioritize our lives and how we spend our time. To make amends, forgive, release, mend and at the end of this have a plan of intentions and goals to return to the home of our soul. A return to our true kind and loving nature. All this important work is necessary in order to clear a new path of hope to an inspired and meaningful life in the future. To truly clear a new path we must pass through the gates of  forgiveness; forgiving the hope for a better past. It’s time to release and move on.

Elul the month of one and return preceding the New Year, invites us to 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 our authentic soul and long to return, we feel the strong pull of our desire to live authentically. Even when it’s hard to manage through the work of forgiveness, the sweet memory and feeling of being whole 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.

Here are some questions and inspirations to Contemplate in the next 21 days:

How can you help yourself decide what to let go of and what to keep? What is in the way to living the life you want? What is between living authentically and what you do now? How do we leave the unhelpful habits, partly unconscious? How do we let go? What do we need to release?

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.

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

Shannah Tovah.

Retreats at Kripalu Center in December