A person only sees with a meditative heart ~ Talmud Brachot 55b
Accounting of the Soul Meditation Exercise
September 15, 2015
During the ten days of awe, beginning with Rosh Hashana and lasting through Yom Kippur we have the space to do cheshbon hanefesh, accounting of the soul. Here, I am going to share with you a way to do this self-reflecting, that I learned from the Meditation Master Sylvia Boorstein.
Listed below are positive statements, like: "I have been patient with the people I have encountered this year." After reading this statement, or hearing it aloud, repeat that statement in your head. -- What you will find is that you may remember some instances in which this statement is a true statement. You may remember a case in which you felt particularly patient with someone. But what will also happen, is that you will remember cases in which you have acted particularly impatient. For each of us, the determination for how true the positive statement is, will be reflected in what comes to our minds.
So please, in your chair, find a comfortable seat. Relax your body and your shoulders. Place your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap. If you are comfortable, lightly close your eyes.
With each statement, please repeat it in your own head. And then allow the memories or feelings of this past year to surface. Pause in between each statement for your brain to do its work.
I have expressed love to my family and friends.
I have kept my promises.
I have been grateful for my lot.
I have been generous with my time and money.
I have spent time learning more about the world.
I have taken care of myself.
I have been honest in public and private matters.
I have contributed to the well-being of my people.
I have invested in moments of holiness.
I have really listened when someone is talking with me.
Come back to the room. Open your eyes and roll your shoulders back. Now thank yourself for this holy work of confronting the self and being open about who and what you are. Jot down anything you would like to remember that can help you be better.
This exercise is not for beating oneself up, but for dispassionately checking on the reality of our lives. Only by being aware of our behaviors, can we seek to improve them. When we view a true picture can we hope to make improvements and also see where we are satisfied.
These ten statements are not exhaustive, and there is more work which can be done. Please use this exercise over the course of this week and throughout the year as you find useful. If this was helpful for you, continue by finding other statements which speak most specifically to your life and your challenges.
May God guide us all as we continue on our paths. God, help us to grow with love, acceptance, and curiosity in the year ahead. Thank you, God, for lighting our ways, for bringing us light in darkness and peace where there may be strife. Let us be compassionate with ourselves and others, as we do the sacred work of teshuvah, of repentance and returning to You. Amen.