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Posts Tagged ‘chanting’

Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

. . . .some days are just hard. Regardless of how upbeat I usually feel, there are days or parts of days when I struggle to find center. I am human.

I believe that at some point in time or another, this is a reality that all of us face, but that doesn’t make those down moments any easier. And yet while it is important to allow ourselves to feel however we are feeling, we also need to allow ourselves to actively navigate the depression so that we can land in a better place.

The beautiful tree to the left flooded my spirit with  so many emotions when I noticed it on my friend’s Facebook page today. Literally, I started bouncing all over the place. I found myself finding center, feeling sad, loving the water, wanting to do tree pose, or Vrksasana in Sanskrit, for balance and centering. And then I found myself taking a deep breath and breathing in the sunset over the water in what of my favorite areas of the country. While the photo is absolutely stunning, it also reminds me of the deep loneliness that I sometimes feel. Remember, I did warn you that this photo took my emotions all over the place.

And yet, I rarely feel lonely for long. Today, I reached out and asked for help. I let my Facebook tribe know, “Inspiration Needed. . .  All pick ups welcome (sayings, stories, TedTalks, songs. . . ) My spirit needs a lift.” And with that,  I received nearly a dozen suggestions of what to sayings, photos, TedTalks, beautiful reminders to let me know I am loved, and reasons to laugh at life’s absurdities at the expense of adorable babies and kittens.

Yes I am sad, but by acknowledging how I am feeling and reaching out to my tribe, I can start moving forward and finding balance. While I understand some of my sadness, I also know that my spirit needed to go inward this past week and I didn’t really have the time, so I am paying for it on my last day off for a while. AND I am aware that although Houston is my home now, everyone is busy and I have yet to find chanting/drumming circles or hiking trails and friends that want to go with me. (Note: When I lived in Tucson, I used to go off on my alone a lot until my sons found out. It was one of those days, I tripped, skinned my knees, ran into a fox, struggled climbing down a mountain, and then found a scary snake in my path. 🙂 Needless to say, my sons now forbid to hike alone. Oh, have I told you that I am a total klutz?)

Reality Check
Since starting this blog, my spirit is lifting. I was able to share my spirit with the most amazing Torah Study Group EVER! I took some time to shed a few tears. . .ok, I didn’t have a choice. . .the tears came whether I wanted them or not. And I just found out that Door l’Door was in Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle this week and with that came an email saying that someone wanted to support my efforts. Around that same time, another friend, a rabbi in New York, reached out to me to share that he and a couple of his congregants will be supporting the work of Door l’Door.

Time to stand a little taller, ground myself a little more deeply, and to reach my arms out into the universe. I got this. Hard days come and challenging days go!

What I learned today is that if I show up with the both the vulnerability and authenticity that drives my spirit, I will be held until I can better hold myself.

Onward with blessings & light,
Chava

 

 

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Your energy introduces you. . . .Truth.

While I am far from perfect, I tend to walk into almost any new environment with warmth and love in my heart. I can’t help but smile at babies or any child, seniors, and animals. Beauty always brings tears to my eyes and authenticity jazzes my soul.

With each step, I remember that my energy is what people meet first.

I love that people are drawn to my energy. My only hope is that I wish I could be healthier, more vibrant, and even more inspirational. And yet, I also love that even if I am not all of these things, I still have the ability to make strangers smile, dogs wag their tails, and children play with me.

On a good day, I make new friends wherever I go and sometimes, I am blessed to connect with a new soul friend with barely a word spoken.

Beauty surrounds me.

On a bad day, I can become hyper-focused and forget that regardless of what is happening, life is not all about me or what I need to accomplish. My hope is that when I get like this, I can turn it off quickly. Sometimes I am lucky enough to do just that.

A few years ago, I visited one of my congregants post surgery. As she laid surrounded by loved ones in ICU, I walked into the room. With tears in my eyes, I was instantly transformed. I remembered another time and place when I had no words for my own family who painfully and awkwardly stood vigil for one of our loved ones. But within moments, I asked the family if I could pray with one of the most beautiful souls I knew. And when they said yes, I found myself chanting and praying with an intensity that felt right for that moment. Fortunately, this horrific chapter had a happy ending; my congregant was able to not only live, but thrive again.

Pain and memories are part of life.

For some reason, the above hospital visit touched me deeply. Walking into this congregant’s hospital room nearly paralyzed me. And yet, I quickly realized that there was no time for self-absorption; this was a time for unconditional love. In fact nearly every time I walk into a new environment, I find myself propelled towards warmth and love.

Over time, connections evolve and become grounded in a beautiful reality. But it is always my hope that when you meet me, you will meet a sweet energy that makes you want to get to know who is walking through the door.

 

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red yahrzeit candle26 years ago, I buried my mother. I remember one relative telling me she didn’t understand why I was so sad, but I was. As tough as my relationship with my mother was, I knew that once I buried her, I would never be able to make it better.

Over the last 26 years, I have faced some of the horrific memories and found ways to heal. The work is relentless, but the benefits are great. I am blessed to have found ways to navigate the darkness and friends that will listen to me on the rare days when the weight of my pain is too heavy to carry. The good news is that those days are few and far between.

For me, I have found that healing has happened on so many levels. I no longer feel deep anger or sadness on a regular basis. Time has been good to me. Sharing my story has helped me detach and move forward. I can now go months without thinking of the impact of her choices or feeling a physical reaction to my memories of her.

Through her actions, my mother taught me how to be a loving soul and a good mother. I knew I never wanted to mother like her or to lose control of myself to addiction. While I am not perfect, I am good enough and sometimes I am even good!

Changing my name so many years ago was the beginning of my healing journey. Writing, chanting, and drumming helped me dig deeper. Healing from domestic violence does not happen without taking many deep breaths, releasing the tears, and even allowing the nightmares to visit each night.  You have to go through the pain in order to find a softer landing, a better place.

Tonight I am missing the possibilities that were lost upon my mother’s death, but I am also feeling immense gratitude that I am exactly where I am. I may be sad in this moment, but it is the sadness that comes each yahrzeit (anniversary of a death) and each Mother’s Day.

The tears are cleansing. My heart is no longer broken. And I am breathing deeply.

Sadness happens. Healing happens too.

 

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L I V I N G is holy work.
 
Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

 
Life is so profoundly full
My body craves less
My mind would love some emptiness
My heart desires just a little more.
 
Dance is the hidden language of the soul. (Martha Graham)
Stretching my entire being
Reaching for the stars
Allowing my body to sway to my own rhythm
 
Losing what I don’t need
Addictions, loved ones, and inner turmoil
Body weight, too much stuff, and lots of old stories
Wanting to celebrate what was
while letting go of what is no longer needed
 
Craving what I need:
Writing time
Creative experiences
and spiritual moments
 
Chanting
Drumming
Journaling
Moving
 
My body
My mind
My soul
Needs so much less and so much more
 
Each time I reach inward, I find more that I want
He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how. (Nietzsche)
My soul yearns to make a difference
My body and mind yearn to see the world through a different lens.
 
Let go of the old, make room for the possibilities
 
In front of me is a bridge
Only once I shed what I don’t need
Release what no longer serves me
Take one step and then another
Only then, will I be able to cross the bridge
 
L I V I N G is holy work
So I will do ALL that I have to do.
Hineini
Here I Am
Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

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Listen to the Silence

When I was around five years old, my father used to gently place his hands over my ears and lovingly squeeze my ears/head. As he did that, he would say, ‘listen to the silence’. As he did a flood of warmth and a feeling of calmness washed over me. This loving act continued into my teen years and beyond; I think he found a way to slip it into each meeting even after I moved away from home.

After I had sons, my father continued this tradition by gently holding his grandsons head the same way – sometimes to calm them and sometimes just to make them calm.  Once I saw my father do it to his grandsons, I followed the lead and also held Aryeh and Dovi the same way.  Each and every time I did, my children’s faces would light up with a smile that could melt whoever was looking at them.

Over the last few days, I have found myself craving that sensation, not only the physical touch, but the silence that followed it.  There is so much noise occurring within me, around me, and everywhere in the world.  At the moment, there seems to be a shortage of quiet.

My mind has never been one for shutting down. For some reason, I am always thinking. Whether it is about myself, my family, the world, Israel, human rights, human trafficking, my loved one’s challenges, or  the never-ending list of possibilities.  My thoughts are part of who I am and yet, I know I need to find a way to stop and listen to the silence.

Many years ago, I read the space between the notes is as important as the notes themselves.  The same can be said for the space between the words.  The time has come for me to allow for a little more space in my life.  My body and my mind is craving silence, down time, and time to myself.

What does silence look like for me? I think it means taking time for me to go inward.  Listening to my physical and emotional needs and then doing things which nurture and nourish those needs. With that in mind, I am actively going to be making time for me to write more, work on some art/craft projects, chant, and drum.

I got this!

Lately, I have noticed that I am engaging less on social media and choosing to ‘pick my battles’ when I do. I am doing my best to live consciously and to consider the myriad of challenges that face the world, but I am not hyper focusing – I am  remaining aware and allowing for the quiet to go where it needs to go.  While I want to be ‘the change I wish to see in the world’, I am taking Gandhi’s wisdom down a notch so that I can go a little more insular for now.  My guess is that something huge will emerge when the time is right.  I can’t wait to see what that will be – only time will tell.

What I do know is that I need to take time to listen to the silence.  I need to go inward and explore my heart, my mind, and my soul. I need to allow my rhythm to take me where I need to go.

My father may not be here to hold me or to squeeze my ears, but what he gave me all those years ago was the awareness, that sometimes the sweetest silence comes from being held close. . .the only difference is that I need to do it all by myself.

Writing

Drawing

Thinking

Dreaming

Painting

Moving

Praying

Drumming

Creating

Chanting

Being

Today, I know that I need to hold myself and trust that when I do, I will be loving myself and keeping me safe.  My father, of blessed memory, gave me the most important gift in the world; he taught me how to listen to the silence.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Choose Life

In Judaism, the number 18 represents life. So, on Day 18 for the Counting of the Omer, I find it ironic that a beloved friend of mine reached out to ask her friends to chant Choose Life for a loved one who is struggling with a serious health crisis.

Life can be really hard. Really hard. . . . And sometimes the most amazing gifts show up just when you need them to.

Just over a month ago, my teacher Rabbi Shefa Gold created Choose Life and shared it with her students. http://www.rabbishefagold.com/choose-life-uvacharta/ The moment, I heard this chant, I felt drawn to it. As a result, I have been chanting it every day since first hearing it. Choosing Life is an empowering decision.  For me, it means striving to live life fully and with positive energy.

On the day that I actually received Reb Shefa’s chant, I was running scared, struggling with darkness, and wondering how I would emerge.  At first, I didn’t open the email, instead I found myself trying to find a semblance of balance. And for the most part I was beginning to find my footing and to feel just a bit better. So when I opened the email the next day, I was already in a much better place, but the chant was still able to help me strengthen my footing so that it was much more firmly planted.

In reality though, darkness doesn’t leave so quickly.  It takes work, hard work. And work is exactly what I did and what I am continuing to do.  While I am so much happier than I was a month ago, I have used chanting as well as other tools to keep reaching towards a stronger and healthier place.

For me, choosing life means finding the tools that keep me thriving. For this journey, I have been:

  • Chanting Choose Life
  • Writing, blogging, creating
  • Walking and exercising
  • Sleeping more than usual (even napping on occasion)
  • Eating better
  • Spending more time with my sons and dog
  • Taking time to talk to and visit friends
  • Stopping to notice spring

I love that my transformation began literally moments before I heard Choose Life and I love that it became a tool for me to thrive even more. Starting tonight, I will also use it for my friend and her loved one.

Choosing Life has never been an option for me. I have always reached for the light even in the dark moments. Tonight, I will send that light to those in need. Will you join me?

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way.  For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness.  The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Western Minnesota Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller

Photo Courtesy of Randall Miller           Location: Western Minnesota

The only journey is the one within.
Quote by Rainer Maria Rilke

For the last several years, I have been seriously impacted by the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke.  His words touch me deeply and inspire me to reflect inwardly while trusting the insight that will come over time. Rilke’s wisdom seems to be telling me how to walk in the world.  To be fair, most of what I have read has been in his book, Letters to a Young Poet, which can often be found next to me or in my computer case when I travel.  (Note to myself: This year I will take time to read more of his works and perhaps his biography too.)

Within me a storm is constantly blowing. As someone who never stops thinking and feeling the rhythm of the world that surrounds me, I often think or wrestle with what is happening around me.  And as I grapple, I sometimes have trouble silencing my mind so that I may be able to relax or shut down.

In this moment alone, I am thinking about the 150 murdered Kenyan students and their loved ones, the fatal shooting of another African-American teenager, Justus Howell, by a Illinois Police officer on Saturday, how the water crisis in California will affect so many people, the bi-partisan reaction to Iran deal, and how to make chickpeas without leaving too much of a carbon footprint.  And then there is my work, my future work, and my sons to consider.  And finally, I am pondering about my writing – What shape do I want my upcoming blogs to take? Should I take the time to work on my book this week? The bottom-line is that these thoughts have been racing through my brain over the last several hours or maybe the last 10 minutes.

If I am totally transparent, I am also struggling with Facebook conversations. How I personally relate to people who see Israeli politics so much differently than I do? What do I do with the “friend” that referred to those that like Obama as morons. (I did delete his message and wrote him a gentle note back.) How can I make the last days of Passover meaningful? And finally, hoping to remember to send cards to the couple of friends who lost love ones over the last week.

What I am thinking about doesn’t end there. I am also deliberating on how to best make a positive difference for the slaves within the chocolate industry. (That came up during our 2nd night Seder) And I am also wondering whether J Street would be interested in letting me create a cabinet or focus community of educators. And then there is a personal issue tugging at my heart. Sigh.

The beautiful reality of the storms that happen within my head and my heart is that I am consciously intertwined with the world. I find joy in walking outside, spending time with loved ones and friends, and chanting or drumming by myself. With every ounce of my being, I am alive and thriving in the world I live. 🙂

May each of us find peace within the storms of life and within all that fills our minds.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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