Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Becoming the Body of GodBy Rabbi Arthur Waskow*
Copyright (c) 2000 by Arthur Waskow. Downloading for your own use permitted. Please do not distribute to others withoiut specific permission: write Awaskow@aol.com.
What follows is a meditation that can be used in the morning to awaken and "enspirit" the body, or before immersing in a mikveh of spiritual renewal, or at other times. It draws on the Kabbalistic image of the Divine Flow of dynamic energy that shapes the universe, in a pattern of interacting "Sefirot."
The kabbalists saw these Sefirot as (metaphorically) encoded on the human body in its various energy centers. But the paths between and among the centers are as important as the focus-points themselves. If we are in balance, there is an open flow of energy from each of the points to the others.
By experiencing this energy-flow in the human body and in the bodies of all be ings with whom we share the breath of life, we can see ourselves as a model of the "Body" of God: made "in God's Image."
And we can help ourselves restore our balance and renew the flow wherever we notice it is blocked.
Let yourself become conscious of your body emptied of breath, your lungs small as the tiny letter Yod. Breathe in: a Hei sound; feel your chest become tall, like a Vav. Breathe out again, completing God's Name YHWH with a Hei again.
Each breath is the Name of God. And the breathing of all life praises God's Name.
Now breathe in the world's breath as your own. Follow your breath as it moves down your throat to your lungs, where the pulsating blood from your heart picks up this breath of life to carry it throughout your body.
Follow the bright red blood, filled with Life-Breath, up through the arteries in your throat to your brain.
Lift your hand to about an inch above the Crown of your head, feeling the warmth the brain radiates as the warm blood moves through. Feel that place, Keter/ Crown, as the interface between your own radiant energy and the radiance of the world. Feel it as the place where your own Will to Create meets the Creative Will of all the universe.
Move your hand to the right side of your head. Follow the Breath of Life, carried in the blood, as it washes every nerve with life. See the flashes of electric excitement in your right brain, the home of flashing intuitive wisdom, Chochma. Feel the fluid, flowing passage of untrammeled wisdom.
Now lift your left hand to the left side of your head. Follow the blood and notice the breath it carries, giving new vigor to the left-brain as it makes distinctions: Either/Or. Yes/No. Right/ Left . Bein u'Vein, Between and Between. Focus on Binah, your ability to make distinctions.
Sense blood and breath flowing into your right arm, and move your right arm into the world with flowing motions, reaching out with love into the world. Chesed, overflowing love. Feel this aspect of your self warm your whole body.
Raise your left arm as a boundary, a barrier between your own self and the world. Palm inward: I am me. Palm outward: You are you. I must strongly preserve some rigorous boundaries: Gevurah.
Put your hands upon your heart. Feel its pulsing as it sends the blood and the breath it carries to renew itself so that it can keep pulsing. Here feel not just a balance-point of overflow and boundary-ness, of Chesed and Gevurah, but their synthesis into a deeper truth. Your heart: a tough muscle with an opening that pours forth life into your body. Tiferet or Rachamin rechem, the womb, the lower heart that with its tough muscle pulses to pour life into the world.
Now put your weight on your right leg. The marching leg, the perserverant leg, marching with a drumbeat rhythm through eternity, Netzach, Netzach, Netzach, Netzach.
Let your left leg dance lightly on the turning earth. Feel the good-humored skipping of the dancing blood, the dancing breath. Hear melody come pouring in through Hod.
Sense the blood come rushing into genitals, carrying the life-breath in the flow. The place where all the generations of the past reach out to us, building our Yesod /Foundation. The place we can experience our most intense pleasure, and can choose to reach out to share it with others. Connecting.
And let the tingle of your skin encompass you. Bring you together into a Unity, unique. Draw yourself up, knowing deeply the Majesty/ Malkhut of your own wholeness.
Now feel the exhausted Breath make back its way from arm and leg, from brain and genital and skin, now carried by the darker blood of weariness. Follow this breath up your throat, follow its journey through your mouth and nose into the Open Air.
Let your lungs become once more the tiny Yod.
Follow this breath into a leaf of grass, into the open throats of living tree and burning bush, feel that what you have just breathed out is what the trees breathe in.
Follow what is still your breath as it flows through the tree, the bush, the grasses leaving behind its carbon to make new leaf, new trunk, new bark. And moving out, now purer oxygen.
Follow your breath as it moves out from these plants, into the other beings of the earth: frog and beetle, horse and hippopotamus and your own nose and throat. Fill up, breathe deep, heeding the Hei as the breath rushes inward.
And when you feel the spiral of your breathing most complete, let your eyes come open and connect with the other sacred breathing faces of the Breath of Life.
* Rabbi Waskow is the author of Godwrestling Round 2 and the editor of Torah of the Earth (both Jewish Lights); the author of Seasons of Our Joy (Beacon) and Down-to-Earth Judaism (Morrow); and the co-editor of Trees, Earth, & Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology (Jewish Publication Society) and co-author of Tales of Tikkun: New Jewish Stories to Heal the Wonded World (Jason Aronson), among other works of Jewish renewal. He is director of The Shalom Center (www.theshalomcenter.org); and one of the Pathfinders of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.