Joy, Our Story, Uncategorized

Blessons – What I learned in 5773

via notsalmon.com

“Blesson” via notsalmon.com

It is the friday before the last Shabbat of the year.  It is a year that revealed itself to be so deeply transformative.  And so, it is with infinite gratitude to Hashem that I share pieces of my personal torah, the lessons of this path of my journey that was the year 5773.

Invest In Experience

The body of research in the field of positive psychology continues to grow with studies exploring what makes us happy, why it makes us happy and what leads to a life of fulfillment.  Studies consistently show that investing in experience brings more happiness than investing in objects. this awareness that your possessions will not provide a long-term inner-satisfaction may sway your decision when the choice is between a vacation and a new pair of Manolos but I think we can expand these findings to use as a filter when faced with career questions and various professional opportunities. It’s obvious to place salary as a fundamental factor in our pursuit of a high quality of life along with career advancement and reaching professional goals. For me, spending on experience has sometimes meant taking a lower paying position to ensure I’m surrounded by people who share my ideals and values and live kindly, honestly and with integrity. Often it means investing in my health by putting myself in an environment where cortisol levels are manageable. Consider the effects of a high stress lifestyle with cortisol levels off the charts, the far reaching consequences for health, decision making, the impact on your home and loved ones, your overall quality of life. Sure, my closet may want for some Diane von Furstenberg (OK. so by closet I mean me. I want DVF!) but the gifts we bestow ourselves by investing in experience will appreciate over time giving us a more pleasant day-to-day living while memories of positive experience will satiate us in our later days.

You Are Your Own Wisest Guru

There is no doctor, guru, therapist, coach, psychiatrist, Rabbi, holistic health practitioner or Kabbalist who can tell you more about you than you know about you.  Really.  Both physically and emotionally.  In western society we’re plagued by ingrained victimization parading itself as conventional wisdom which holds that if you’re sick there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it.  You can’t make you better. Only the doctor can make you better. We sign-off responsibility for our wellbeing to teachers and practitioners and have lost sight of a fundamental difference between integrating the advice and guidance of practitioners and relying on them entirely. As we take the steps towards self-discovery, knowledge and wisdom we will come to rely on ourselves first. We will then seek out those with more expertise, know-how, skill and experience to gain added insight in our healing journey. We will honor our doctors and spiritual guides while cherishing the truth of our inner voice. This recognition was a game changer for me. For 29 years I went to my doctor and said “fix me” and in my 30th year I understood that in reality I could fix myself and then further reinforce and complement the healing process by partnering with the most knowledgeable and skilled doctors and specialists.

You Will Always Make Mistakes

It's the possibility that keeps me going not the guarantee

The question is only when will you stop glaring those mistakes down with judgement? When will you cease to allow mistakes to be the fuel for your sense of inadequacy? It takes 20 years to become an overnight success. Rovio went through 51 titles and tens of thousands of revisions before launching Angry Birds… More and more those we recognize as being the new spiritual thinkers and leaders are publicly baring their vulnerabilities, sharing their missteps and failings. Is it self-inflicted public shaming? No! They have welcomed mistakes as supercharged fuel for growth. Mistakes and failures are not cause for shame but the foundation for success.  It’s only falling off your board that you learn to get back up and then get off and design a better one or hone your strength and balance to surf the next, bigger wave.  Acknowledge your mistakes and continuously evaluate them asking what you can learn how you can change to improve in the next round.

The Blessing is in the Hardship

via notsalmon.com

via notsalmon.com

Or in other words, stop fighting your reality. Growing up with Loveline meant being impressed with the words of Dr. Drew to “accept reality on reality’s terms” and quite frankly I’m really not sure how I used to understand this saying. We will all face some degree of trauma in our lives from expected and unexpected sources and in our rumination we may fall into the trap of “should have”. It should have been different, it should have gone a different way, he should have been nicer, I should have gone there instead, I should have walked, she should have been more caring, should have been more attentive, should have been less stupid. It is in the “should haves” that we find ourselves on thin spiritual ice questioning the core of our emunah (faith/belief).  Reb Shlomo calls the word “should” avoda zara (idolatry but literally, strange worship) because it questions the path that Hashem laid out for you. It claims that G-d was wrong in fashioning your life in the way it has played out. This is an incredibly dangerous way to live and in my experience it is in battling our reality, fighting our perceived misfortunes that is the root cause of all physical and emotional dis-ease. Hashem chose Am Yisrael as the am segulah and chazal teach us that the suffering of Egypt was not for the sake of punishment but a crucial step towards refinement to reach our divine potential. In our personal lives we will experience our own Egypts and we will emerge to see the blessings that result from that hardship. Ultimately we will internalize the knowledge that the trauma does not only yield infinite blessing but that the hardship itself is the blessing.  At that moment we release “should have” and lay down arms against our past to live a more content present.

It is with gratitude and anticipation that I fashion and open myself to the abundance of 5774.

Wishing us all a Shana Tova.

May we be signed and sealed in the book of life.

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It’s no secret that one of the keys to increasing happiness in life is to express gratitude and scientific studies consistently back up what we all understand intuitively.  I spent a lot of time over the past year meditating over modeh ani… internalizing that the very first word we put into the world each morning is “thankful”.  The thoughts and idea over modeh ani really demand a longer post but as we approach Rosh Hashana and bask in the splendor of the energy of the King being in the field I wanted to share this incredibly touching piece from the SoulPancake series “The Science of Happiness”.

What are you grateful for today?  How do you express your gratitude?  Do you have a private practice?  Do you let your gratitude show?  Share in the comments!

Breathe out fear.  Breathe in wisdom. || http://ReehAnochi.wordpress.com

Uncategorized

Breathe out Fear. Breathe in Wisdom.

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Living with the Month

What Do You Fear?

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame is someone I grow to admire more and more by the blog post.  I frequently turn to his blog for inspiration and most importantly, practical tips on leading a more mindful life in a world that seems to be more “to’hu va’vohu” in its increasing chaos.

Recently he’s shared posts exposing his failings and fears.  Yes, the energy of Elul is strong in the world.

While t’shuvah, repenting for our sins and striving to be better is a mitzvah every day, Elul holds within it a sacred space to recalibrate and reset ourselves for the coming year.  Any day of the year we can (and must) confess our sins.  Yet, in our yearning for piety we may inadvertently overlook a crucial element of Elul, exposing ourselves and facing our own deep-rooted vulnerabilities.  To be sure, vidui (confession) over failing to uphold Shabbat, the kashrut mixups, hurtful words uttered, unfair judgements passed is vital but could it be that our hyper-diligence to account for each sin like line-items on a spreadsheet is in itself a mask?  Have we peeked behind the curtains, swept beyond veils of guilt to face our fears, our sense of inadequacy, our doubts of worthiness?

It’s a challenge getting to know ourselves in a world that has forgotten the sacred art of hitbodedut, of meditation and silence.  In this world the challenge is all the greater and all the more important.  Seeing all the parts of you, exposing yourself to your weakest points will direct you to the areas that beg for the most self-love and compassion, the points that are in fact your greatest potential for growth.

How has your life journey introduced you to your vulnerabilities?  How do you respond to your failings?  How do you grow from your past mistakes and mis-steps?  Share in your journal or comment below!

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Hitbodedut – or as Reb Shlomo understands it, holy-aloneness…

Meditate today, practice "hitbodedut" or as Reb Shlomo calls it "holy-aloneness". || http://ReehAnochi.wordpress.com

 

Living with the Month, Uncategorized

Hitbodedut

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Body Work, Living with the Month, Monthly Questions, Rosh Chodesh

Elul 5773

Question for Elul – How did you practice loving forgiveness towards yourself?  How did you show love and forgiveness to another?

One of the most fascinating aspects of tshuvah is that we first need to repair relationships with our fellow man before we can really ask forgiveness from Hashem.  In order to reach this elevated state of caring and love for our fellow man we must take another step back and first love ourselves, then our love for others will come from the most authentic place.  We can’t give to others something that we have not truly experienced ourselves.  So to is the case with forgiveness.  We cannot expect Hashem to forgive us if we have not internalized the experience of forgiving others.

Our tshuvah, whether personal (bein adam l’makom) or interpersonal (bein adam l’chaveiro) must be properly framed and contextualized.  The cheshbon hanefesh that we undertake during the month of Elul is not meant to focus our attention on the details of our lives, but rather on the underlying foundational truths that guide us in our life decisions.  Of course we need to be keeping mitzvot, constantly growing in our understanding and observance, but that can’t be all.  We can be doing all the right motions, but if the initial intention isn’t kadosh, l’shem shamayim, then we are missing the crucial piece of the puzzle. It’s like having a check with a bunch of zeros on it – meaningless. But put a number, just one number before the zeros- it takes on a completely different meaning.

To paraphrase a teaching by Rav Steinsaltz, in Elul we begin a journey forward, but like any journey, before setting out we must first set our sights towards our goal.  Our purpose is to bring geula (redemption) to the world, to uplift and perfect the world for the coming of Mashiach.  Every facet of our lives is directed to this goal.

Rav Steinsaltz emphasizes that the entire idea of Elul, and tshuvah is to align ourselves with a greater purpose, and to not allow ourselves to get distracted by the small things. Think big picture. The intention to bring Mashiach is our primary focus and it is upon us to be striving for the biggest redemption.  We must build ourselves – our bodies and our soul – so that ours will be the path on which Mashiach arrives. We should be prepared for this, not settle for less than this, and not want anything besides this.

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Our Story

Our Story…

It all starts with Purim.  The friendship was kindled several Purims ago but it was Adar 5773 that a chevruta was formed and the world began to shake.  In learning before our weekly shiur with Shlomo Katz our Monday nights were infused with deep Torahs, the teachings we learned together serendipitously (but really, is there such a thing? Isn’t everything min ha’shamayim?) complementing the words of Reb Shlomo Carlebach.

We discovered a shared passion and deep respect for holistic wellness being heavily influenced by medical intuitives including Caroline Myss and other respected figures in the healing community like Brandon Bays.  We explored our shared sense of whimsy recognizing universal truths being shared by flourishing online communities such as TED, SoulPancake and The Happiness Project.

We are both uniquely blessed to have grown up in Torah observant homes, a foundation enriched by continued learning at respected institutions beyond our yeshiva day school years.  We have grown to find that so many of the figures we hold in esteem beyond the Jewish world, the communities we join are in fact intuitively in-tune with the deeper workings of the world, drawing universal truths from the wellspring of Torah.  Following our curiosities we are on a journey to re-encounter the depths of this wellspring through the Torahs of Mey HaShilo’ach, Rebbe Nachman, Reb Shlomo, Rav Kook… it is with this wealth of resources that we devote ourselves to our learning, our yoga, our tefilah, each practice informing the other to weave together a balanced, abundant life.

Although Re’eh Anochi was first conceived as an intimately private practice towards personal growth, we chose to open it up and share the project with a wider audience and connect with like-hearted souls, to support each other in fulfilling our G-d given mission.

Ariella…

grew up in a religious Zionist home in Cleveland, Ohio. Her love for Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael was nurtured through her involvement with Fuchs Mizrachi School, Bnei Akiva, Camp Stone, Green Road Synagogue, and the Jewish Federation.  Immediately upon graduating from high school nine years ago, she moved to Israel to pursue a career in Jewish education. At Migdal Oz she studied Tanach, Gmara, Halacha, and Chasidut for four years. Years of dealing with chronic health conditions set her on a journey to discover alternative healing options to live a healthy daily life. Seeing the dramatic shift in her quality of life by reconnecting with Hashem and incorporating a daily yoga practice in her schedule, Ariella was inspired to become a certified yoga instructor so that she could help other women realize their own hidden potentials.

Shelley…

is a ten-year Jerusalemite with West Coast roots in Los Angeles and Vancouver which explains her fashion savvy with a hippie flair. Following a year in the beit midrash of Nishmat, she has gone on to realize multi-passionate dreams in design, photography and social media.  When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up desserts, glass of wine in hand, you’ll find her laptop in tow getting the latest from Lifehacker, RealSimple and Apartment Therapy.  You can follow Shelley at @itzuvi

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