Category Archives: Mendful Path

Instead of setting goals, set optimal conditions

I’m preparing to lead my annual December retreats at Kripalu Center in MA. I like to create a fresh and engaging learning anew each year. I begin by reviewing past experiences to evaluate how to best set the conditions for meaningful and transformative work. I’m reading participants’ reflections from retreats in the past and they touch 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 in my retreats 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 from a retreat, aside from having fun and relaxing, 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

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 want you desire in your life. May ease and contentment find you.

Next retreats at Kripalu Center in Mass

Dec 22-25 Kabbalah and Mysticism Retreat for Ease and Contentment

Dec 26-29 The Mendful Path Mindfulness and Mysticism in Soul-Centered Living

Also with Rabbi Sigal:

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 way to shepherd ourselves back to wholeness and kindness? What could help us find a mendful path? 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?

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! So we could dedicate and focus our attention to opening to new possibilities, to ask new questions, to become unstuck and more free. 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, 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 retreats at Kripalu Center (Dec 22-25, 26-29) where we will journey and learn together. We will share in learning and practicing mendful path methods with self-inquiry and self care preparing us for a good new year.

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

Kripalu Retreats with Rabbi Sigal in December

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 virtually in webinars and small online groups, and in person in Pennsylvania and at Kripalu Center. A  Mendful Path Meditation and learning group series is starting October 25th in Elkins Park.

You are invited to Kesher Shalom interactive gatherings.

The next gathering is October 13th at 7:30pm. Come after dinner to Unscroll Torah in honor of Simchat Torah, and for nosh and conversation about what the Torah text means to you and in history. For more fall season learning in PA.

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