God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice

Overview

Your body is the place where heaven and earth meet.

The greatest spiritual achievement is not transcending the body but joining body and spirit together. But to do this, you must break through assumptions that draw boundaries around the Infinite and wake up to the body as the site of holiness itself.

This groundbreaking book is the first comprehensive treatment of the body in Jewish spiritual practice and an essential guide to the sacred. With ...

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God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice

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Overview

Your body is the place where heaven and earth meet.

The greatest spiritual achievement is not transcending the body but joining body and spirit together. But to do this, you must break through assumptions that draw boundaries around the Infinite and wake up to the body as the site of holiness itself.

This groundbreaking book is the first comprehensive treatment of the body in Jewish spiritual practice and an essential guide to the sacred. With meditation practices, physical exercises, visualizations, and sacred text, you will learn how to experience the presence of the Divine in, and through, your body. And by cultivating an embodied spiritual practice, you will transform everyday activities—eating, walking, breathing, washing—into moments of deep spiritual realization, uniting sacred and sensual, mystical and mundane.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With the gentle authority of a good yoga master, Michaelson, chief editor of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, offers not so much a mind/body lesson in Kabbalah as a map to a mindful, spiritually rich lifestyle. Having "chosen to emphasize those aspects of the Jewish and world wisdom that treat the body as a sacred site for contemplative practice," he uses a combination of simple meditations, prayers, Talmudic excerpts and wisdom from historic rabbis to guide those seeking to embrace the "God in your body." While most journeys begin with a single step, this one begins with a single breath. Throughout, he reminds us that "a practice is done `no matter what' not for strictness's sake, but so it can be a prism which casts light upon the mind" whether that practice be one of breathing, eating, walking or even using the bathroom. Yet, the calls to practice are balanced with a fascinating cache of tidbits. For example, the Amidah, or Standing Prayer, is sometimes called "The Eighteen," referring to the 18 blessings within it that are believed to correspond to the body's 18 vertebrae. This book belongs as much on a shelf with other meditative, mind/body titles as it does among Judaica. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580233040
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 247
  • Sales rank: 1,390,871
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Michaelson has taught Kabbalah, mindfulness, and embodied spiritual practice at Yale University, City College, Elat Chayyim, the Skirball Center, and the Wexner Summer Institute, among other institutions. Chief editor of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, he is a regular contributor to the Forward, the Jerusalem Post, Slate and other publications. He holds a JD from Yale and an MA in religious studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is currently a doctoral candidate.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix The Union of Body and Soul ix "God"? xi The Idea of Practice xiii Cutting and Pasting xv An Invitation xvii 1 . E a t i n g 1 V'achalta: Eating Meditation 2 V’savata: Experiencing Satisfaction 7 U’verachta: Count your Blessings 9 Transparent Kashrut 16 2. P r a y i n g 21 Embodied Jewish Prayer 22 Sweat Your Prayers—Hasidic Style 27 “Every Limb Will Praise You”: Jewish Liturgy and the Body 30 3. B r e a t h i n g 35 Basic Breathing Meditation 36 Adding God to your Breath 39 4. Wa l k i n g 45 Basic Walking Meditation 46 Four Ways to Walk with God 48 Contents v 5. U s i n g t h e B a t h r o o m 55 Asher Yatzar: The Bathroom Blessing 56 Toilet Zen: Meditation for the Restroom 60 6. Sex 63 Sex Is Holy 65 Practicing Sacred Sexuality 72 7. M i r r o r i n g t h e D i v i n e 77 Contemplating the Miniature World 78 Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation 83 Embodying the Ten Sefirot 86 Looking in the Mirror 95 8. E x e r c i s i n g 97 Spiritual Exercise: Beyond the Mat 100 A Four Worlds Workout 104 9. Dancing 115 Ecstatic Dancing, Sacred and Secular 116 The Quartet and the Mosh Pit 122 10. F a s t i n g 125 The Benefits of Denial 126 Fasting in Context: The Five Minor Fasts 128 Fasting as Catharsis: Yom Kippur 132 11. Wa s h i n g 137 Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness? 138 Washing as a Spiritual Practice 141 12. The Mikva 145 Waters of Rebirth 146 Solitary Mikva Practices 149 Communal Mikva Practices 151 Beyond the Mikva 153 Your Blood Is a Blessing (by Holly Taya Shere) 154 v i • Contents 13. Nature 159 Mindfulness in Nature 161 The Path of Blessing 164 14. T h e F i v e S e n s e s 169 Sound 170 Smell 173 Touch 176 Taste 179 Sight 181 15. E m b o d i e d E m o t i o n s 183 Feeling Emotions in the Body 184 Kabbalah’s Map of the Heart-Body 187 16. S i c k n e s s a n d H e a l t h 191 Spiritual Practice in Sickness and in Health 193 The Deeper Meaning of Health 195 17. L i f e C y c l e 201 Birth and Childhood 201 Adulthood: Coming of Age, Partnering, and Aging 205 Death 207 18. J u s t B e i n g 211 Appendix: Four Worlds—A Kabbalistic Map of Our Experiential Universe 215 Notes 217 Glossary 225 Bibliography 231 Credits 239 Acknowledgments 240 Topical Index 241 Index of Practices 246

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