Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Declaration Drip Like Dew (Deut 32:2)

This past Friday Night, I experimented with a new meditative davening practice. Now, this isn't usually the kind of thing I'm into, but the week before, I tried out some meditation with some neighbors at shul and had a surprisingly good experience. So this all just sort of percolated in my head during Minhha and Ma‘ariv at the beginning of Shabbat.

From a friend of mine in high school, my rav, and a few other people, I picked up the habit of sometimes clasping my hands together while davening. So that's the first step: Clasp your hands together in front of your belly or chest, but leave space between the palms. What you're trying to do is create an empty space between your hands as they come together, so that you can fill the empty space with the prayer.

The next step is to imagine the words of the siddur as a physical presence leaving your mouth as you pronounce them. You can imagine them as words, as images, as smoke or vapor, or as a liquid flowing or dripping. It could be steam like on a winter day wafting out between your lips; it could be stones or building blocks tumbling out over your teeth; it could be rain dripping or a stream flowing out of your mouth. Each berakha or prayer can have its own unique color, texture, or object visualization, or the visualizations could shift organically from word to word or phrase to phrase. It may help if you're synesthetic, but you don't need to be (I'm not).

As each word, phrase, berakha or prayer flows, wafts, drips, or drops out of your mouth, visualize it entering into the space between your hands, swirling together cumulatively into a swirling ball of light. Each new color or texture adds another shade to the glowing 'prayer-ball' swirling around in the gap between your cupped hands. It can rotate smooth and shiny with calm serenity, or roil with boiling passion — whatever you're feeling as you pray.

At the end of the exercise, unclasp your hands and visualize releasing the glowing ball of prayer, so that it can float away to God. I've been doing this exercise for the ‘Amida, and releasing it at the words יהיו לרצון אמרי פי והגיון לבי לפניך ה' צורי וגואלי — may the pronouncement of my mouth and the expression of my heart be accepted before you, God, my rock and redeemer, at the very end.

(isn't photoshop great?)


Anonymous brother kayin said...

now all you need is a 3-color version of that picture with thin lining and the word HOPE in sans-serif on the bottom.


6/18/2008 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Yair said...

Sounds like fun, I'll try it!

6/18/2008 11:49 AM  
Blogger rivkayael said...

I should try it during Shabbat when there is more time.

By the way, great to see you in person yesterday. (I was the Asian at the table but didn't get to tell you that I'm also a reader of your blog)

6/18/2008 11:51 AM  
Anonymous habib of kjp said...

unclasp your hands and visualize releasing the glowing ball of prayer, so that it can float away to God

Sorry, but this sounds suspiciously like Streetfighter 2 (specifically, Guile's sonic boom, or maybe Ryu's hadouken).

6/24/2008 10:05 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


cool, nice meeting you. well sort of, since we were on opposite ends of the table and barely interacted at all. that whole thing was weird.


i didn't say SHOOT anyone with it! dude! got some anger management issues there? :-P

6/24/2008 1:22 PM  

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