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

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

by Jay Michaelson


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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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580233040
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/01/2006
Pages: 266
Product dimensions: 2.36(w) x 3.54(h) x 0.68(d)

About 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.

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. Eating1
V'achalta: Eating Meditation 2
V'savata: Experiencing Satisfaction 7
U’verachta: Count your Blessings 9
Transparent Kashrut 16

2. Praying 21
Embodied Jewish Prayer 22
Sweat Your Prayers—Hasidic Style 27
"Every Limb Will Praise You":
Jewish Liturgy and the Body 30

3. Breathing 35
Basic Breathing Meditation 36
Adding God to your Breath 39

4. Walking 45
Basic Walking Meditation 46
Four Ways to Walk with God 48

5. Using the Bathroom 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. Mirroring the Divine 77
Contemplating the Miniature World 78
Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation 83
Embodying the Ten Sefirot 86
Looking in the Mirror 95

8. Exercising 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. Fasting 125
The Benefits of Denial 126
Fasting in Context: The Five Minor Fasts 128
Fasting as Catharsis: Yom Kippur 132

11. Washing 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

13. Nature 159
Mindfulness in Nature 161
The Path of Blessing 164

14. The Five Senses 169
Sound 170
Smell 173
Touch 176
Taste 179
Sight 181

15. Embodied Emotions 183
Feeling Emotions in the Body 184
Kabbalah’s Map of the Heart-Body 187

16. Sickness and Health 191
Spiritual Practice in Sickness and in Health 193
The Deeper Meaning of Health 195

17. Life Cycle 201
Birth and Childhood 201
Adulthood: Coming of Age, Partnering, and Aging 205
Death 207

18. Just Being 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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