Anitya asuci duhkha anatmasu nitya suci sukha atma khyatih avidya
The need for pleasures and the source of suffering comes from identifying with
that which is not eternal. True self is pure and eternal.
Happy New Year. I spent most of yesterday and the evening before in synagogue. It’s Jewish New Year and so a time for deep reflection. We are called to reach deeply into that reflective space and ponder where we have been and where we want to be in the future. This is the time when we take stock.
Traditionally, we call this the time of repentance. The ten days of awe, when the book of life is opened and we get to re-write ourselves into the book of life. It is the time when we look back at the past year and hold ourselves accountable for all that we have done. For many it is a time of self-flagellation. Our minds fill with the “I should’ves, Why didn’t I, Why did I?” And we ask for forgiveness. Some of us even write the difficult letters, or make the phone calls to those we love and have hurt during the year. But most importantly, it is a time of letting go.
I belong to a unique synagogue. We practice an integrative form of Judaism which is draws upon ancient Jewish practices of mysticism, meditation and chanting. It also draws upon the wisdom teachings of Buddhism and Daoism. I find that the combination of song, prayer and meditation allows me to go deeper into myself and to nurture the divine spark that lives within.
According to our Rabbis, the real work to be done during this week is the work of self-love. Yes, look inside, take stalk, but also forgive yourself and let go. I don’t know about you, but I certainly am my own worst critic. So to be presented with the task of looking inside and practicing self-forgiveness is a deep spiritual challenge.
This is a time of catharsis.
And I find that my yoga practice is deepened by my Jewish faith and vice versa. We meditate on the mat and we meditate in synagogue. We honor the divine that lives within in our yoga practice, and we honor the One that is Universal Being in our Jewish faith. Patanjali reminds us that our attachments to what has been and what could be, keep us from living fully in the moment, and thus lead to pain. The days of awe remind us to look back, take stalk and then let go, and embrace the New Year with an open heart and a clean slate.
So to all my fellow yogis and yoginis, and to all my Jewish brothers and Sisters, may I wish you a sweet New Year. I encourage you to open yourselves up to yourselves. Take time for silence and meditation. Listen quietly to the clear voice that lives within. Know that we are all manifestations of goodness. And celebrate your unique unfolding, on the mat and in your life.
Shalom & Namaste