Over the years, my spiritual explorations have produced many gifts and golden nuggets. I feel grateful to have mentors, experiences and teachings that have helped to encourage and push forward my spiritual growth and transformation. I hope you find something that inspires you here that you didn’t already know about.
Hineini הנני – For me, this the most powerful word in the whole Hebrew Bible. It translates as “here I am.” Each time it is spoken, it is pivotal time – such as Abraham when he is about to sacrifice Isaac, Moses when he comes upon the burning bush. Hineini is a response to some call or question from YHVH (Hebrew that get translated as the word “God” but really is better translated as “being-ness”). What is the call that “Hineini/Here I am” is the response to? One understanding is that YHVH is calling us to stop and reflect. Become present with our experience. I translate to be the question, “Where are you in this moment? What are you doing? How are you being? What is motivating you?” Hineini is my reminder to stop, reflect, take a breath and ask myself, “How do I want to be in this present moment? Is this where I want to be or did I get off track? And if I am off track, how do I get back on and what help do I need?” This one word embodies mindfulness. It is so simple. And it is so simple I keep forgetting it. I need to keep returning to a mindful response to the unheard question, “Where are you now?” over and over again. It is amazingly easy to distract myself and to get off course. I created a Hineini chant for just for this purpose. It is simple and a way to settle back into more fully inhabiting the present moment. I am surprised at how many people, especially those who aren’t Jewish, find this an amazing spiritual chant. So much so that I included it on my chanting and meditation CDs. Musician Leonard Cohen (of blessed memory), has another take on hineini. Here in a NY Times article is what Leonard said about it 4 weeks before he died.
Sylvia Boorstein – I am very fortunate to have Sylvia as a mentor. After sitting in a few retreats and learning from Sylvia, I wanted to have her voice in my head instead of my judgmental/critical one. She says to herself, “Sweetheart,” as she calls upon her self-compassion when realizing she is caught up in her thoughts and stories or getting critical/self-critical. If you have never been fortunate enough to be on retreat or learn from her, I recommend going to her website and listening to a teaching of hers. Her books are wonderful too, but you need to voice to go along with it. She is my mindful grandma. Thanks goodness, I do have her in my head now, reminding me of the centrality of compassion. In yiddish, compassion is rachmanas. It seems like almost (if not) every time we get together, no matter where we start and what we are talking about, Sylvia and I end up talking about rachmanas. I’ve taken this as a sign. A sign that I need more compassion in my life and that I need to help others embrace more compassion too. When I make mistakes and am unskillful in my behavior or words towards another, I need self-compassion. I need compassion for others when they do or say something that feels hurtful to me. The two sayings of Sylvia’s that are delightfully in my brain are: “If we stop for a minute and think about how hard it is just to be human, how could we not have compassion for one another?” and “We are all doing the best we can, otherwise we would have done something better!” I hope you love Sylvia as much as I do. If you aren’t as fortunate as me to see her or learn from her, then I hope you will listen to her wisdom. I suspect you will smile as you hear her voice. She has the cutest laugh too. Enjoy. 🙂
Together with our guide, we grow past the limiting habits of our minds and become the expansive, forgiving, loving and compassionate people that has always been our birthright.” – Sylvia Boorstein
Stay tuned. There is much more to share and I’m still exploring, discovering and growing, so this is an ever-expanding list.