Category Archives: Self Inquiry

This New Year Resolve to Mend

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

Life changes and shapes us into what we are throughout our lifetime. Do you 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?

Broken and mended is beautiful. Leonard Cohen, his memory a blessing, sang: “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 teaches that the broken Tablets; Moses broke when he saw the people built a golden calf and worshiped 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 examples of brokenness and mending  are beautiful inspirations to encourage us to embrace our brokenness, to stop hiding our humanity, mend when we can, love our scars and stop avoiding life. All brokenness, imperfections and pain are parts of our lives. Instead of spending another year afraid of making mistakes or hiding behind your scars, be daring. Find ways to embrace, accept things and mend more this year.  Although we have been broken and know the pain, and are surely to break and hurt again, we cannot  stop opening to the gift of this life. Yes, it’s hard. But, can we resolve to love ourselves and others, with our brokenness, scars and all and mend where we can?

As we are preparing to enter a new year. I want to remind us to not 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 resolutions, in a harsh manner, aiming to fix all that is wrong and unacceptable in us.

Time to change the game. Change the approach. We make a resolutions list and soon forget our commitment to change. We feel disappointed. Adding shame and blame on top of the pile of what we already think is wrong with us, it’s not helpful. It turns out that instead of growing in self love and being helpful, the resolutions only help grow self hatred and disappointment 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 to succeed. Use affirmations to bring you back to love and care and follow your intention with healthy actions to mend body, heart, mind and spirit.

I wish us all a mendful year!

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

I look forward to connecting with you in the new year.

Love and blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Mendful living is here for you. Please join us to mend our world and ourselves too.    RETREATS 

Instead of setting goals, set optimal conditions

I loooooove retreats!

I’m honored to be entrusted with the opportunity to create optimal conditions that allow for learning and transformation at retreats or many years. I pray and hope “ah ha” moments and seeds of insights are planted during the retreat and are taken home bloom. The conditions you set at home along with the heartfelt intention to thrive will change your life.

The biggest benefit of a concentrated experience, like a retreat, aside from having fun, is having the time and guidance to learn with experiential methods. We have the time to mend and open to our authentic nature and our heart’s desire, try new things and listen intently. We return home with our commitment to pursue our desires, we better discern because we learn in the retreat how to best set the optimal conditions to succeed.

I’m reminded of the positive effect of being on a retreat when I read students’ reflections. They consistently express renewed hope in themselves and in life, and connected to expanded awareness and growing commitment to self love and care they are sure to succeed. 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. It’s especially moving to hear about the positive and sustainable changes in their lives after the retreat.

Where to begin? Knowing our heart’s desire is  a good 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 learn to 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 to self love and care on the mendful path

Remember why you are doing what you are doing! You love yourself and your life and what to feel more joy, contentment and peace.

Schedule regular time for practices that support listening and living from your heart. Resolve to keep your commitment to your practice especially when resistance, negative thoughts, discomfort and forgetting arises. Be patient. It will take time to adjust and cultivate new habits. Plan for small, measurable and reachable expectations. Endure, adjust and stay focused until they become habits.

Use tools of remembering through  out the day. Write a meaningful word and display where you can see it, write it in your daily calendar, read a daily affirmation you like for 10 days and then choose another. Set a reminder alarm on your phone every hour to breathe a relaxing breath, repeat your word or affirmation and settle into a moment of stillness. Pray.

Develop new supportive habits. Daily “refilling activities” are centering and helpful. I like to take walks in nature, ride a bike, sit in a sauna or a hot tub, listen and read inspiring thoughts, write a gratitude list, and meditate in stillness for 10 minutes or more throughout the day. Also, resolving to participate in group activities, like yoga classes, and inviting others to walk or meditate with you is important and nurturing.

May you remember your heart’s desire each day and create the right conditions for the seeds of your intention to grow and guide your life. May the time and effort you invest blossom into what you desire to have and experience in your life. May ease and contentment find you.

Mentoring individual and small groups 

RETREATS

Mendful Living is 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.
The Mendful Path mentors us to find our soul-center so we can stay settled in the calm and peace of our being, especially when we are feeling scared and confused. Mendful  practices teach us ways to bring more calm to the body-mind, fostering understanding of the underlying deep interconnection of all things. 

I am leading retreats at Kripalu in Decembe and May to explore the relationships between mendful, soul, contentment, ease and happiness.
These holistic retreats provide a direct approach to living authentically and cultivating peace and well-being in all aspects of your daily life. I will explain puzzling 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

Contact us for details


Weddings   Bnai Mitzvah

Mentoring &  Meditation

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

Let’s talk about LOVE

More than ever before we talk about love in different ways. It seems there is more appreciation to other kinds of love which exceed romantic love. Maybe the change is because now, more than ever before, many people are single. Being single is a growing global trend, whether by choice or by circumstances, more people don’t marry and new ways of being in loving relationships are explored. It turns out, there are many ways to be in loving relationships.

Love is a humungous topic. It’s hard to put our arms around love, but we try, measuring love and defining it. For some love is a feeling, to others a commitment. To some it’s security, to others a vulnerability. To some a fulfilled desire, while for others a longing. 

What we want is to be in authentic relationships. We want to be ourselves and relate to others who are authentically themselves. When we are in loving relationships we want to be seen, heard, feel connected and belong. In authentic loving relationships, these four posts are important underpinnings, usually garbed with elaborate unconscious and conscious desires and needs. 

Alain de Botton who wrote Essays in Love defines love as charitable interpretation of others’ behavior. To love is to be willing to interpret someone’s not so appealing behavior with a more benevolence reason. Loving is accepting faults; being patient and charitable in our interpretation of unappealing behaviors. 

We are bound to disappoint and be disappointed, especially with people we love and whom love us. Love is not admiration alone, although we want it to be because it would be so much easier. But real life love must include compromise and tolerance of unpleasant feelings and behaviors. It calls us to be mature in loving and living with the recognition we need to tolerate ambivalence. The disparity between what we like and the things we really don’t like. We tend to spend a lot of time and energy rejecting and resisting the things we don’t want to include in the mix of love and relationships, but reality is what it is and we need to accept it. 

Staying in relationships requires skill. Love is not just a matter of feelings. It hurts when we are disappointed, but with mendful skills and sensibilities we can navigate it better. We must stay in the conversation with others and with the different triggers within us, and not run away from them and avoid them. It actually makes the things we try to avoid more resistant and painful.

In Mendful Path Living we cultivate a remembering we carry in our heart, namely, the intention to mend. The mendful mindset and the intention to mend are tucked in our heart and in our consciousness to help bring us back to love and mending.  How?

I have a regular daily practice of meditation and prayer to orient me ever so strongly to mending. More and more I see how it helps usher me back from the edge of discomfort and discontent to balance and calm. It’s especially helps me respond with more understanding and care in challenging moments. Remembering all humans experience disappointments, hurts, and challenges, we prepare and support ourselves to respond more calmly and productively in stressful situations. The question is not whether we will be challenged, because we surely will, but instead we prepare and plan how we will respond mendfully. How in the moment we don’t allow our habitual reactivity to get the best of us and create more suffering and harm. And, when things get away from us sometime we mend from there. We ask for forgiveness, forgive others and make amends. 

Mendful love is how we live. One conversation, one encounter, one small mend at a time. May your love flourish in many colors and textures within you and in all your relationships, whether you are partnered or not.

 Mendful Living from Your Heart
Retreats at Kripalu Center  in June and September  

Information about Mentoring – See Special Offer


Polyvagal Theory: A Mendful Pointer to Wellbeing

Polyvagal theory and other neuroscience teach about important systems that regulate our responses. These new areas of study are important for us to understand because they point us to wellbeing. The theories explain patterns in our body-mind which heavily influence our lives; physiologically, psychologically, relationally and cognitively. 

I have seen the positive effect of sharing this information with my students. A beautiful shift can happen when we learn how the body responds to fear and stress. It helps because it can stop us from taking things personally or believing we are broken beyond repair. It  points us onto a kinder mendful path toward our hope and strength. This knowledge along with guided MENDtations and self inquiry exercises can help when we are dealing with negative arousal responses. Many of my student learn to relax more, rebuild resiliency and access more joy in a relatively short time.

What I teach in my retreats and personalized mentoring sessions  is now supported by the growing body of research and knowledge from neuroscience. We combine guided practices  and conversations to help create the conditions for the desired shifts back to health, contentment and ease. Centuries before seeds of neuroscience theories were even thought of, spiritual and religious practices such as meditation, chanting, visualization, prayer, tribal and physical rituals and cognitive methods, were used to calm, destress and point us in the direction of joy and contentment.  It is powerfully transformative when we delve into ancient practices and teachings now with the added knowledge of the new findings.

We discover how that they go together well because they address the same human needs; the freedom and easing of fear, stress, anxiety, discontent, agitation and unhappiness. I feel awe when I see these connections because they reflect to me humanity’s desire and ability to engage in a continues and expansive exploratory creative unfolding toward betterment of our conditions.

The retreats I teach are immersive and supportive experiences where we relax and let our full selves be. We learn how the conditioned unnecessary reactivity in the body-mind act as door ways to healing and positive change. It’s amazing what can be done in three days! Participants are able to delve deep into their inner spaces and experience beautiful connection to soul. It’s profound and moving to witness. 

Participants report that the group experience and the exercises are soul nourishing, insightful and mendful on many levels.

Hollie wrote: “Following Rabbi Sigal’s Mendful program at Kripalu I have experienced a shift, a softening, a turn towards wonder. So much of this heart opening was a result of ‘marinating’ in the loving community Sigal held for us.”

I love guiding and supporting people in retreats and with personalized Mendful Life Mentoring. You don’t have to do it alone. I am here to help. Together we journey the mendful path.

Retreats at Kripalu 

Mendtations

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

Freedom to Inspire Your Heart

Reflections on Independence Day

Thirty years ago when I moved to the US, I organized my travel to arrive in time to celebrate Independence Day in Philadelphia. It may seem silly now but it was important to me then. I wanted to celebrate the 4th of July with thousands of people at the special concert by the Art Museum’s steps, and view a spectacular fireworks show.
Celebrating freedom and life has always been important to me. As I reflect on the past, I can see how the threads of yearning for freedom and living in freedom are woven into the fabric of what I do and teach. Those threads shimmer through and guide what I write, sing and create. Freedom is in the choices I make in how I mother, cook, mentor, lead, officiate, teach and rabbi.
Today, I reflect on the words of the Declaration of Independence and how many generations are connected through history to the values of our society. As the founding leaders of this country and all leaders ever since, I am thinking how to inspire our hearts to be free and open to the joy of life. I hope that between beach and barbeque you can make time to contemplate what inspires you.
It works well for me to celebrate freedom at the beginning of the summer because, as I do every summer, in preparation for the Jewish New Year in the fall, I contemplate and connect to what inspires me. I also mindfully include activities I enjoy. Making a priority to spend time with family, friends, beauty, fun books and travel. I also make time for retreat and quiet to feel and breathe, and allow flourishing in the landscape of my soul. What do you do at this time of year? Maybe you can navigate taking more time to do what you love and need to best care for yourself.

High Holy Days services at the beautiful Abington Art Center in Jenkintown, PA.

I am here to support you. Please contact me with questions and to explore personal mentoring to bring more balance into your life.

Playing Hide and Seek

How long have you been hiding your dreams and aliveness?

What desires are you denying yourself?

What are you afraid of?
Spring is a time to stop hiding and take a leap of faith. Look at nature around you and see how trees bloom and bulbs sprout without any effort or angsts. To spring forward like flowers do, we need to trust and not let worries and fears stop us. Think for a moment: What have I really wanted to do, but held back because of one reason or another, which stopped me from living fully and from fulfilling my dreams?
Revealing and concealing play important roles in our lives, in our stories and traditions. Life is a mystery and that is what makes it interesting. God and spirit are also unknown and they are too interesting because of that. Mysterious elements in all things keep us curious, engaged and yep, also guessing and amazed.
This week we celebrate the holiday of Purim (Thursday March 24) and read the story about Queen Esther (her name means hidden.) We dress up in costumes, which are revealing and hiding somethings about ourselves at the same time. This year, it also happened Easter is this weekend; marking the resurrection of Jesus and children will be looking for hidden colorful eggs with hidden sweets.
In both holidays we tell stories about hiddenness and salvation. The experiences of being lost, hidden and in despair are met with being found and saved. We can all relate to this motif. We all want to be found, seen, and live authentically and freely, but fears may stop us. In our spiritual seeking, and seeking friends, connections and meaning we long to be found. We long  to stop feeling separated and we want to stop hiding. The stories we celebrate this week can be helpful to us if we explore them as myths about human needs and conditions. The spirit is hidden and the storeis focus on the human side, not on God.
Life, turns out, is a mystery. The hidden and the revealed are playfully woven together. On Purim we can let what we usually hold back be more in the forefront. Playfully and temporarily we enjoy showing some of what is hidden. What can you playfully reveal about you, your life, your ideas and dreams? What will make you laugh if you trusted and revealed some of the mystery you are?  

Awaken Passion & Aliveness

The commercial presentation of Valentine’s Day, or what I like to call remembering love day, can be fun, but it can also make some feel bad, left out and unloved if they don’t participate in the giving and receiving of bonbons and roses. On top of that, for many, feeling aliveness in relationships is fading, if not completely absent. Many people are indifferent to the holiday and let it happen around them avoiding or rejecting the whole thing. I like remembering love day, but I wish we used it to feed our soul and aliveness much better, instead of let it pass us by uneventfully.

How about instead of the same old chocolates and flowers we use the occasion of Valentine’s Day to awaken real passion and aliveness? And I do not mean just the romantic kind.

Perhaps when we see the landscape covered with pink and red for Valentine’s Day we can find a way to go beyond the symbols of the day to express love in a larger way. Can we free ourselves and color outside the pink and red lines with different colors and ideas to awaken our unique individual passions?

Imagine how it would be if you engaged with curiosity and use the day, or even take the whole week, to inquire about your state of passion and aliveness. Find out how you can awaken your aliveness; the desire of the body-mind to really live! How to come alive to deeply engage, feel, express and connect.

Aliveness is the experience of being truly alive in all relationships and not just romantic ones. Relating to one’s self and self-loving comes first. All other relationships are affected by how we are with ourselves. We can use Valentine’s Day to ignite the inner light, to empower and propel our lives and be more fully alive in all our relationships.

The invitation is to let remembering love day evoke a desire in us to become alive in all we do. This week, let the passion in the heart be free and the imagination open, to remember your aliveness.

Let yourself find new ways to awaken your passion, your enthusiasm and excitement to discover more of who you are and what you love in the ever-expanding field of your aliveness.

Happy love day!

Mentoring

Retreats at Kripalu Center. MA in March & September