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Meditation and Prayer

Meditation as Prayer, Prayer as Meditation

I do a guided meditation almost every morning. Here’s how it usually goes: I start to settle in, and my mind starts wandering, and I’m thinking about the email I forgot to answer or, wow, that’s such a great word I just thought of – now I need to let it go, and hope I can remember it and write it down at the end of the meditation, I can use it in a poem or essay, and what to make for dinner, and that’s just sampling of my brain ping ponging all over the place. I try to bring my mind back to my breath, and I can let go of all those things and just meditate. Sometimes, I succeed and sometimes I don’t.

This morning, I attended a Zoom morning prayer service. The rabbi announced there would be a group meditation after services. With over 20 in attendance, the facilitator began the meditation by asking us to do some deep breathing, and then open our eyes and look at everyone in the group, to realize we were a group, and that we’re here together. Next, she announced we’d have 10 minutes of quiet time for our own meditation. Uh oh.

Of course, my mind started to wander. After the usual things, I began to think about the group and that I was part of something larger, and the image of the Shechinah, God’s presence, surfaced. In the Talmud, Brachot 6a, it says that when ten people gather to pray, the Divine Presence is with them.

A gold light appeared over my head and then widened out and engulfed my entire body. The light turned to gold mesh and wrapped around me; after a few moments it wrapped around the group, then the mesh wrapped around the world. The mesh tightened around the world, the world became smaller; and then the mesh widened out, and the world got bigger. It then wrapped around the universe, and I felt a connection to everything.

Perhaps praying helped my meditation, and perhaps my meditation intensified the prayer I just finished. I certainly wasn’t thinking about gold mesh when I started to meditate, but I’m grateful it happened. I won’t forget it, and I’m trying to keep this feeling with me for as long as I can and hope that I can return to that feeling when I need to.

Maybe my wandering got me to a deeper meditation, maybe the group dynamic got me somewhere I wouldn’t have gotten if I meditated alone. I’m not certain what will happen the next time I attend the group meditation. More than likely, I’ll still be thinking about the laundry, emails, and such and hoping my breathing will take me to a deeper meditation. Right now, it’s back to the world. I have to wash the dishes.

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