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JLI course: Meditation from Sinai

2 February - 9 March 2022 6 Wednesday evenings 19:30-21:00 Location: Angel in-person / Zoom Price: £60 / £45 Supporters Club members

Course Overview Mindful, medicinal, mantra, and movement. Today’s society offers a colorful diversity of popular meditations, turning the term “meditation” into a familiar byword. Nevertheless, many are less familiar with the practicalities of meditation as a regular routine and, most critically, with the methods of productively and organically merging meditation with daily living. Judaism embraces meditation. It even insists on it and provides its own brand of meditation that is entirely independent of the famous systems, many of which were distilled from Eastern cultures. Authentic Jewish meditation is deeply profound and at the same time, highly practical. It is equally as ancient as it is remarkably relevant. That may come as a surprise. For millennia, Jewish scholars, philosophers, ethicists, moralists, and theologians leaned on mindful awareness to enhance their personal relationships with G-d and to sharpen their understanding of the surrounding world—but this knowledge and practice remained largely their exclusive property. In the modern era, however, perceptions continue to shift rapidly and radically, and there is an unprecedented thirst for authentic Jewish insight and guidance translated into relatable terms for practical consumption. Meditation from Sinai is a fresh and reflective course on authentic Jewish meditation for today. The course is divided into a six-part series of groundbreaking spiritual ideas, alongside classical insights of Jewish wisdom that demonstrate the tremendous power of our mental faculties—and our mind’s aptitude—to amplify spiritual achievements as well as everyday well-being and success. Meditation from Sinai is a transformative, empowering offering that unveils meditation and mindfulness as the bedrock upon which all meaningful life is built. It synthesizes extensive research from both the spiritual and scientific communities, forging a practical path to fully realizing life’s potentials. This is done by mastering the art of pausing, gazing inward, and harnessing our contemplative powers to uncover the profound significance of life’s every moment. Lesson Details Lesson 1 MIND CONTROL: I THINK THEREFORE I CAN Meditation is often associated with other religions, but it is a genuine Jewish practice, and Judaism provides an authentic tradition of Jewish meditation: not as an optional side dish to the main fare of Jewish life, but as the bedrock of Judaism itself. This lesson explores some of Jewish meditation’s foundational underpinnings and demonstrates the ways it can be harnessed as a mindfulness practice to overcome negative feelings and actively produce positive ones. The result is an overall improved life. The lesson then takes a radical leap further and explains Judaism’s position that positive meditation can shape reality, through tapping into spiritual energies accessed exclusively through meditation and mindful awareness practices. Lesson 2 SPIRITUAL AWAKENING TUNE IN, PLAY ON Meditation offers a superior tool for dismantling distraction and facilitating self-discovery. Deep within the self, buried beneath multiple layers, is a profoundly spiritual fountain. Its song is typically drowned out by the noisy static of daily life, leaving our innate spirituality unrecognized and unharnessed. Meditation silences the surrounding world and calms the mind’s raging rivers, allowing us to identify with our inner spirit and appreciate the spiritual drive that is dancing within us. In some disciplines, meditation is an escape, a means of transcending reality, but this is not the Jewish approach. Rather, this lesson teaches us to harness meditation to unlock the divinity we already possess, and to deliver that into our reality. With enough focus, we discover spiritual energy in everything that exists. Lesson 3 DIVINE ANIMATION JOY VEY G-d is often perceived as distant and spirituality as static. This lesson draws on classic Jewish meditation techniques to demonstrate that G-d’s presence dynamically animates all of existence and purposefully guides all of reality. With this awareness, we are guided to develop a divine consciousness, and a perception of closeness to G-d that is comforting and empowering. Individual life is not random; every event fits perfectly into a master plan. Such mindful awareness is eminently effective toward living with genuine joy, resilience, and purpose. Lesson 4 HERE AND WOW: CAPTURE FREE EVERY MOMENT People everywhere are seeking to gain greater focus and be more present in their immediate tasks, experiences, or relationships. Too often, the current moment is swept away by the current of time, without adequate investment on our part. Unfortunately, lost moments do not return. This lesson focuses on meditation on spirituality, to teach that spirituality is not abstract but a dimension with genuine impact on our lives. It explores G-d’s intimate presence within all that exists—not only as the force that sustains and energizes everything, but as the force that brings it into existence afresh each moment. With adequate awareness, we are led to recognize, value, and utilize each moment of life as an end unto itself. Each moment breathes with individual purpose. Each moment is a fresh opportunity for a good or sacred achievement. Lesson 5 CLUB MED: EAT BETTER, SLEEP DEEPER, WORK HIGHER For those seeking a deeper purpose in life, much of mortal experience seems frustratingly trivial and distracting. But that is only if we fail to consult Judaism’s deeper teachings. This lesson provides an awareness of the depths of purpose to be experienced in three major everyday activities: eating, sleeping, and working. Reaching back into the core thesis of this course, namely that Jewish mindful awareness and meditation ought to impact practical behavior and inject it with purpose, this lesson uses core kabbalistic and Chasidic ideas to arrive at the following conclusion: instead of viewing these prosaic activities as merely chores, we can use meditation to reframe each of them and uncover their inner meaning and imbue them with purpose. With their newfound appreciation for the spiritual depth of these behaviors, students are given practical meditations for implementing this approach while engaging in these basic activities. Lesson 6 ACT NATURAL: CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN DO Judaism contains powerful spirituality, but its emphasis and goal is not on ascetic practice but on anchoring inspiration or revelation in our tangible reality. This is achieved, by divine design, through practical religious performance—known as mitzvot. This lesson will explore how these behaviors are both fueled by meditation and serve as pathways towards meditative consciousness. The lesson leans into kabbalistic insights to reveal mitzvot as tools of divine connectivity—a goal best achieved through marrying behavior to meditative contemplation involving the activity’s cosmic significance. Beyond that, the choreography of mitzvah behavior is unveiled as a guide to meditative states, so that mitzvot become active meditations.

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