Why Meditate?

Meditation is often prescribed for relaxation, reducing stress, and creating a more peaceful emotional and mental state of mind. Effective Meditation should be to facilitate inner peace and serenity and to enhance inner joy and happiness.

At JMIJ how are you defining the term “meditation”?

At JMIJ, we usually use the term “meditation” to mean techniques to calm the mind, observe inner sensations, and contemplate or focus awareness.

Can JMIJ meditation help with medical problems?

Effective meditative techniques designed properly for individual needs can help deal with stress related diseases and promote wellness and wellbeing.

What is Jewish Meditation?

The name “Jewish Meditation” is sometimes used (or misused) to include many different experiences. Here we use the term JM (Jewish Meditation) to refer to techniques that are based both on the neuropsychology of meditation research and on Jewish sources.

What is the difference between meditation and mood making?

Mood making, guided imagery, and singing are related but not to be confused with effective meditative techniques.

What equivalent terms can be found for “meditation” in Hebrew?

Hebrew terms include hitbodedut (internal self isolation), hitbonenut (contemplation) kavannah peratit (specific focused intention) and kavannah kelalit (general focused awareness). These terms are used in a variety of contexts often with overlapping semantic fields of reference. Therefore, it is necessary to examine each source to determine when an actual meditative process is indicated.

What types of meditative techniques are taught in JMIJ?

JMIJ draws upon the wealth of meditative instructions found in Jewish sources, including some that has been available only in manuscripts. The types of meditation range from quieting the mind, mindfulness, focused awareness, opened awareness, meta-meditation, and conative meditation. Techniques that are used are drawn from the instructions of leading personalities in Jewish meditative history such as Maimonides, R. Hayyim Vital, R. Nachman of Bretzlav, Rav Kook and the Admor of Piaseczno.

What Happens in the Mind During “Meta-Meditation”?

Meta-meditation means being aware of inner sensations, “happenings” and “subconscious gossip” in the back of your mind, those initial ruminations which help shape emerging thoughts, feelings and perceptions. It means going beyond sub vocalized verbalized mentation in Broca’s area, and taking note of the pre-linguistic thoughts.

What is “Quieting the Mind”?

Quieting the mind entails clearing extraneous thoughts, similar to falling asleep, but all the while, maintaining a “conscious awareness”. Relaxing the body-mind and focusing the emotions are preliminary steps towards advanced meditative experiences. It is important to let go of verbal type thinking which is thought patterning associated with Broca’s area in the cerebral left hemisphere where speech and syntax are produced and with Wernicke’s area where thought is interpreted in language.

Which JM Technique do you recommend to begin with?

The basic JM technique is a 3 step meditative process. The meditation begins with deep diaphragmatic breathing, generating a relaxation response, quieting the verbal-logical mind, and transcending to the more subtle sources of thought and emotion. Then attention is focused in the quiet frame of a “settled mind” towards a specific theme. Alternatively, the awareness is “opened” or “heightened” to become more receptive to an inspirational state. The final part of the meditation allows for a gradual exiting from the meditative state with directed awareness towards inner gratitude and/or a blessing of Shalom and inner harmony.

What advanced techniques are taught in JMIJ?

A variety of advanced techniques are available to create a heightened intuitive experience, foster an opening of awareness and to receive Divine Inspiration.

Is it better to practice meditation in a group?

Many people find it more powerful to practice meditation in a congenial setting of like minded meditators. A principle of entrainment might be involved. Pendulum clocks running side by side will entrain if the pendula are the same length. Fireflies blink in unison, Being in sync is what is called when human beings synchronize with each other like a sound technician synchronizes his sound track with a film.

Can a non Jew enjoy JM?

JM like Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Moslem meditative techniques has both particularistic and universal aspects. For example, Jewish mantras of shalom (peace & harmony), hesed (loving kindness), gevurah (strength), neshama (soul), and modeh ani (gratitude) are linguistically colored by the Hebrew language but they can convey universal meditative connotations.

Did Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan make the term “meditation” popular parlance?

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s book, Jewish Meditation – A Practical Guide, New York 1985, is the first clear and reliable modern introduction. Kaplan sought to demonstrate that Judaism contains “one of the more important systems of meditation”. In his book Meditation and the Bible, 1978, he suggested that meditative techniques can be found in the Bible and speculated that in Biblical times, “over a million people were involved” in meditative “disciplines”. In Meditation and Kabbalah, 1982, he traced the development of meditative techniques from Talmudic times through Medieval Spanish Kabbalah, Safed Kabbalah and Hasidism.