At various times in my life, I’ve participated in spiritual services and traditions – perhaps, a manner of seeking and trying to find what touches my heart and what, ultimately, opens my heart. Curious about beliefs and practices, I’ve ended up adding some of the things I’ve learned to my own personal practice to help ground myself, feel more compassion, and be open to the gifts of the universe.
As I return from a Hebrew Chanting Circle today, I am very much aware of how at peace I feel. A simple hour out of my day to gather with a group of women and combine our voices to create a very special energy makes a big difference.
For those who have never done chanting, according to The Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love by Rabbi Shefa Gold, a chant is “a few short words – repeated with passion and intention – that can unlock treasure upon treasure of healing, wisdom and love.”
Even though we meet at the local temple in Woodstock, out of a group of 7-10 women, only three of them are Jewish. I am married to a non-practicing Jew so that’s the closet I get to being Jewish. The rest of the women are coming for spiritual community and to create peace that goes inward and radiates outward.
When I was invited to join the group, I said “yes” because I am in to saying “yes” to new things. Just try it, Ann. So, I did. And, just as I found with Buddhist, Hindu, and Native American practices – there was a peace and joy that filled me. So much alike no matter what the flavor. So full of beauty and love.
The chants we are using come from Rabbi Shefa Gold, who is a leader in ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. According to her website, “she composes and perform spiritual music, has produced ten albums, and her liturgies have been published in several new prayerbooks.”
After reading more, I realized why Rabbi Shefa’s chants and practices were touching me so. Her bio goes on to say that “By combining her grounding in Judaism with a background in Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Native American spiritual traditions, Rabbi Shefa is uniquely qualified as a spiritual bridge celebrating the shared path of devotion.” She teaches the meditative practice of chant that “fully engages the body, heart, and mind, and facilitates healing and expansion of consciousness.”
So, in a world full of arguments about who is right and who is wrong, who can worship this or that, what team should win the Super Bowl, what somebody should have done, and so on and so forth… spending an hour of my day today with a group of women who are celebrating our likenesses versus our differences, our desire to bring together rather than pull apart… was a blessing.
So, if your days are way too full, if you can’t get away from technology, if work is something you do for more hours than you care to and you aren’t sure what a day off looks like… I want to encourage you to stop and take some time. Do whatever it is that helps you settle within and comfort yourself. Whatever you need to return to will reap the rewards of your break and, so will you.
Check out one of my favorite chants – Gratefulness: Odach. Let the vibration work its magic and then quietly sit with eyes closed, focused on your heart.
Just do it. And even if you never do a Hebrew chant again or need to find another practice, then do that.
But, do something for you that helps you communicate with your soul. Wow, you’ll see – it could change the world.
“Chant is a path for all of us who lead with our hearts, who are determined to seek out the truth that is buried deep beneath the ground of our lives, and who have made a commitment to live that truth, from moment to moment, breath to breath,
‘one little bit at a time.’”
—from the Introduction of The Magic of Hebrew Chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold