Living In Balance

A Mother and her five-year-old son were talking about what he learned in kindergarten that day. The mother let her mind wander while her son was speaking. He began tapping on her knee and said, “Mommy, listen to me!” “But I am listening,” replied the mother. “No, you’re not,” said the son, “You’re not listening in your eyes!” It’s time to pay more attention to your loved ones and people around you.

It is very easy in our busy, very connected, sometimes 24/7 world, to find ourselves mired in our own space. Just one more text message, another email and I’m done. By the time we know it, the minutes and hours just pass by us and our loved ones often feel “cheated,” hurt and lonely.

We make so much time for ourselves and our technologies; we connect with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people a day through social media and the internet. But often, we forget/neglect to connect with the people we love and care about the most. They somehow tend to take a back seat to everyone and everything else. We may rationalize in our heads, “S/He will be here no matter what,” or, “They understand, I don’t need to worry about them.”

The truth is that s/he may not understand, and the person you love most may not be there if you don’t stop to look up from your constant texting, emailing and social networking, and start listening with “your eyes.” Don’t get me wrong, I am a big proponent of social networking and the technologies which enhance our lives in ways we have never imagined before. After all, I can often be seen in the halls and walls of Twitter and Facebook, chatting away and making connections. The key is BALANCE.

How can we live in BALANCE? Kabbalah teaches that when we take words and break them down, hidden meanings and messages may be found (this is especially powerful with Hebrew letters, with which Kabbalah is written). Let’s break down the word BALANCE

To live in BALANCE:

Be – We are human beings, so be in the here and now.

Aware – of your surroundings, emotional and physical state.

Love – with all your heart and soul from a place of light  blessings.

Attentive – Pay attention to what your inner core is saying.

Natural – Be yourself, in your ‘natural’ state.

Communicate – with your soul and the world around you.

Evolve – ebb and flow through and with life.

When we live in BALANCE, we have less stress and we pay more attention to the needs of our loved ones, and the needs of our deep inner selves. Our Neshama (soul/breath) is lighter, freer and full of positive energy.

As you read this, you may be saying, “OK, Rabbi, it all sounds great, but How can I practically be in BALANCE in this busy, often media hyped world?”

The answer is simple. STOP. Turn off the texting, email, Internet for 5 minutes a day (If you can spare more than five minutes it would be ideal, but realistically you may only have five minutes a day and that’s great). Now, take a deep breath in. Then, slowly release your breath, take your time don’t rush it. With the breath, release any tensions/anxieties you may have.

Sit in the quietness for the remainder of your uninterrupted time and feel your whole physical and emotional self-become lighter, more excited. When the ‘time is up,’ reach out to one or more of your most important loved one (and yes, you may do so via phone or video chat, text or email), and say “I Love You!”

Taking a complete day of rest (Shabbat), at week’s end, where you totally turn off all media and solely focus on family, friends, good food and joyous occasions, is another way to be in BALANCE.

By the way, the word for breath in Hebrew is נשימה N’sheemah, which comes from the root word of נשמה N’shamah (or soul). It is written is Genesis 2:7 –
“Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. “

When you take a deep breath you nourish your body and soul. When you take a deep breath and become more aware, you also take the soul to higher levels of well being.

So, take a deep breath and appreciate the positive people and things in your life! Remember to Be in BALANCE. Also, remember to turn off your mobile world once in a while and connect with your loved ones, who matter the most, in a real, sincere way. BE there with your whole heart and soul not just with your ears, and you will experience great Joy and Excitement in your life.

Exercise

Yes, I know, you want to try the exercise mentioned above, but scrolling up is just too difficult 😃 so here it is again:

STOP. Turn off the texting, email, Internet for 5 minutes a day (If you can spear more than five minutes it would be ideal, but realistically you may only have five minutes a day and that’s great).

Now, take a deep breath In. Then, slowly release your breath, take your time don’t rush it. With the breath, release any tensions/anxieties you may have.

Also, dedicate one day of the weekend to rest, relaxation and family/friends time while turning off texting, emailing etc. (Shabbat).

For your copy of Rabbi Shai’s book, click on the image below

Rabbi Shai Specht-Sandler

You are not alone | Coping with anxiety

A tzaddik (pious person) was asked: “Why is it that a pious person seems less eager to persuade others to become virtuous than a wicked person is to gain companions in wickedness?” He replied: “A pious person walks in light and is not afraid to walk alone, whereas a wicked person walks in darkness and is anxious for company.”
We all have anxiety and feelings of darkness from time to time. When we stop for a moment and open our eyes, we realize that we are not alone – The Light is all around us. The “wicked” person inside of us wants to bring us down and saturates us with negative thoughts, feelings and “what if’s.” While our pious side gently tries to remind us that all we need to do is walk in the light…
So how can we walk in the light?

  • Live life with gratitude and don’t let the sun set today without seeing it, embracing it, and enjoying it.
  • Take the time necessary to get in touch with your soul’s desire for freedom and peace.
  • Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.
  • Connect with your Soul נשמה and enter a journey of total Healing, Harmony and Inner Peace.

To aliviate the anxiety, find the Light within and let it shine. You have all the tools and resources you need, what you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours. Embrace the light and shine it for the world to see. Reach out to family and friends and don’t be afriad/ embarrassed to seek the professional help of a counselor, life coach, Rabbi, Priest or other religious/spiritual leaders.

Exercise
Psalm 139 is a beautiful Psalm meditating on the Boundlessness of Creator. Wherever we are, Creator is always with us – we are never alone. Meditate on this beautiful reflection (Source Unknown) when you need a “pick me up” during the day:

Reflection on Psalm 139
Father/Mother, you know me better than I could ever know myself.
You know in all truth what I have been, what I am, what I will become.
You know me when I love and when I’m selfish.
You know when I succeed and when I fail.
You know everything about me
And yet, Father/Mother, you love me more than I will ever know.
You don’t hold it against me that I fail, or am discouraged.
You try also to show me that I should not hold it against myself,
Because by doing so I will fail to love more.
You are forgiving and loving.
It is beyond my understanding.
I read your word and am inspired,
But then immediately I feel its poverty in my own life.
But Father/Mother, if I do try to escape you, really where can I go?
Deep down I never want to escape you, but at times I try.
Help me to realize that at these times you will support me,
You will send the light needed,
You will send your consolation through another,
You will send your strength and courage.

Creator, my Father/Mother, know my thoughts –
Guide me to you.
You know what I desire
Even though I don’t always move toward my goal

Perception and Attitude

When our hearts and souls are sick, our bodies get sick as well.

The Kabbalah teaches that the world we live in is a product of our perception of reality, and our attitude toward life, determines the world we live in.

Each of us has a choice. You can choose to believe that this world is filled with the light and presence of the Almighty who guides it and cares about it. Or you can believe that this world is one big accident, a chaotic mess. The choice is totally yours, but remember; What you believe creates what you will see, feel and experience in life.

So the question is: How would I act if I sincerely consciously believed that God’s presence filled my life, my home, my world? How would I speak to and treat my family and friends? How would I face the tough times and challenges knowing that the light is with and all around me?

The way to increase our Divine consciousness and invite The Light to pour into our world, is by walking the talk – Taking actions such as:

1) Helping those in need around us.

2) Being more loving and genuine in our daily interactions.

3) Smiling at the person next to us in the elevator and saying “hello.”

4) In general, making a bigger effort to Care/Love

With-out our efforts and consciousness, the light of God can’t illuminate our world. We need God and God needs us.

It’s amazing when we take off in an airplane on a dark, cloudy, gloomy day, how bright it actually is once we get passed the clouds – the sky is blue and the sun is shining in full force. Always try to remind yourself during dark times in your life, that the light is still shining. You just need to pierce through the clouds and let the Sunshine in. The darkness comes only because (and when) something is blocking the light.

It’s important to take some time for introspection. It’s equally as important to take action and become a Divine Light Shining Partner.

Self help, meditation, life coach,

Living What You Love

We could all use more LOVE in our lives, and the more we give the more we get.

Samuel ibn Magrela was a Spanish-Jewish poet of the eleventh century who was vizier to the king of Granada. He was cursed one day in the presence of the king, who commanded Samuel to punish the offender by cutting out his tongue. The Jewish vizier, however, treated his enemy kindly, whereupon the curses became blessings.

When the king next noticed the offender, he was astonished that Samuel had not carried out his command. Samuel replied, “I have torn out his angry tongue, and given him instead a kind one.” The Rabbis rightly declare, “Who is mighty? S/He who makes his enemy a friend.” (Avot d’Rabbi Nathan 23)

We can take this statement even further and say “Who is mighty? S/He who makes her/himself a friend.” Lack of love for ourselves inhibits our compassion toward others. When we make friends with ourselves, there are no obstacles to opening our hearts and minds to others. Of course we have to walk a fine line between loving/valuing ourselves and being too self-involved/absorbed.

Loving oneself certainly doesn’t mean indulging oneself. Loving is an attitude towards yourself that most people don’t have, because most people know things about themselves which are not desirable. Everybody has innumerable attitudes, reactions, likes and dislikes which they’d be better off without.

Self Judgment is made and while one likes one’s positive attitudes, one dislikes the others. With that comes suppression of those aspects of yourself that you’re not pleased with. You don’t want to know about them and don’t acknowledge them. That’s one way of dealing with your-self, which can be detrimental to growth.

Another unskillful way is to dislike that part of yourself which appears negative and every time it arises you blame yourself, which makes matters twice as bad as they were before. With that comes fear and very often aggression.
If you wants to deal with yourself in a balanced way, it’s not useful to pretend that the unpleasant part doesn’t exist, I am talking about those aggressive, irritable, conceited tendencies.

The charge of “I’m so wonderful” or “I’m so terrible” is defused. We are neither wonderful nor terrible. Everyone is a human being with all the potential and all the obstructions. If you can love that human being, the one that is “me” with all its faculties and tendencies, then you can love others realistically, usefully and helpfully.

If we look at ourselves in that manner, we will learn to love ourselves in a wholesome way. Just as a mother, who at the risk of her life loves and protects her child… Become your own mother! If we want to have a relationship with ourselves that is realistic and conducive to growth, then we need to become our own mother. A sensible mother can distinguish between that which is useful for her child and that which is detrimental, but she doesn’t stop loving the child when s/he misbehaves.

This may be the most important aspect to look at in ourselves. Everyone, at one time or another, misbehaves in thought, speech or action. So what do we do with that? What does a mother do? She tells the child not to do it again, loves the child as much as she’s always loved her/him and just gets on with the job of bringing up her child. Maybe we can start to bring up ourselves.

When you Love yourself enough, you will move through your Heart to the negative pole, and begin the work of bringing all your negative thoughts, feelings, words, and actions to consciousness.

The energy of your Self-Love will begin the movement of these negative patterns through your heart, and toward the positive pole of your soul. It takes stamina, courage, strength, relentless attention, and great Self-Love, to move from inertia into momentum toward the positive pole.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.

Carrot Egg or Coffee Bean?

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.

It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” the mother asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

The Eight Spiritual Essentials

Based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph H. Gelberman

Think of these “essentials” as the eight rungs on a ladder leading upward toward greater consciousness.

  1. The first rung is to be One with the self, the soul, and שכינה Shekinah – Creator’s indwelling feminine presence.
  2. The second rung is to forgive the past and look forward to the future with Joy and excitement.
  3. The third rung is to open the mind, letting the soul fly into unknown space.
  4. The fourth rung is to consider what our true mission in life is, and to be totally Alive to that mission
  5. The fifth rung is to be ready once again to hear the message given at Mount Sinai, to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
  6. The sixth rung is to learn the art and science of living spiritually; Healthy in body, mind and soul.
  7. The seventh rung is to experience genuine love and know the difference between pleasure, happiness and joy.
  8. The eighth rung is to reunite the divided self in order to know the glory of Oneness of the Universe.

One of the most important concepts to remember is that without human effort, the Creator will remain unredeemed. Creator only lives where Creator is invited. In other words, we are responsible for Creator’s intervention on earth.

If you want the Creator in your life, all you need to do is call. This is one of the important keys to understanding of spirituality. There’s an interactive arrangement between The Light and yourself.

Spirituality is a quest for true knowledge and understanding that will lead you to explore the very depths of your heart and soul in order to receive Love & Light.

May the light always shine brightly on you and may Joy find you at every corner.

Exercise

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Meditate on the following passages and invite The Creator to a dialogue as you do so:

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May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O CREATOR, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
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I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.
(Psalm 77:12)
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Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. (Psalm 119:27)
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