Connecting to Kabbalah
I was born in Jerusalem, and have at times struggled to connect with the spiritual tradition of my native land, including the Orthodox Judaism of my father. At times, Native American and yogic traditions have felt far more like “home” than the traditions of my bloodline.
Recently, though, I’ve been exploring the spiritual teachings of Kabbalah, the ancient mystical Jewish tradition that dives deep into questions about the essence of Yahweh – one of the many names for God or Source. The word kabbalah literally means “receiving.” It is connected to the basic idea at the heart of Kabbalistic teaching, that the whole of creation is a gift from the Giver, or Creator. While that might sound simple enough, according to this tradition, the meaning of reception is sacred, complex, and takes a lifetime to truly understand.
According to Kabbalah, the process of giving and receiving is the essence of life and of spiritual understanding. As Rabbi Nilton Bonder writes in The Kabbalah of Food, “Receiving means establishing a relationship with nature of the universe in which we lie. If we understand ‘receiving’ as a one-sided phenomenon – with the emphasis exclusively on what we are going to get out of this partnership – then we gradually draw away from this relationship of exchange, which ultimately represents life….[T]he art of receiving…can only be fulfilled by letting go of what has been given.”
In other words, in order for life to flow, there must be a process of energetic receiving and letting go. Rabbi Bonder writes of a legend of two Biblical seas. One is the Sea of Galilee, which teems with life, and the other is Dead Sea, where nothing grows at all. The Sea of Galilee receives snowmelt from the mountains and then lets it flow through its body to the Jordan River. And the Dead Sea is an endpoint; it takes all that it receives and does not pass it through elsewhere. According to the Kabbalists, the Dead Sea is Dead because it does not truly know how to “receive.” While the Galilee flourishes because it literally allows for flow. According to Kabbalah, the process of living is a continuous exchange.
The Creator is understood as the giver of light. In modern Kabbalah, living beings are like energy vessels, receiving this light, which then becomes consciousness.
In the Kabbalistic creation myth, Divine Energy was poured into metaphysical “vessels.” These vessels could not take the intensity of what they were receiving. So they shattered in a kind of Big Bang, while showering divine sparks into the universe. It is our task as humans, according to Kabbalah, to retrieve these sparks and return them to their Source.
Our consciousness is like a vessel overflowing. And the flow of Divine Light is more than we can possibly contain. What insights we do have are sparks from that divine light. As Karen Berg, co-founder of the Kabbalah Center puts it, “It is our feeling that every individual put into the world is hewn from a spark which we call the soul. Within the confines of the soul is the creative Light, a substance each one of us needs to generate in order to fulfill our potential! You and I are, from a Kabbalistic perspective, vessels for the Light. Every being has an amount of energy that can be filled to its maximum, by doing the things in life that create or generate energy.”
We must focus our attention, energy, and consciousness to remove blockages and allow for flow. As a lifelong dancer and co-founder of healing modality Dance of Liberation, my work has been dedicated to the embodiment of this premise – that working with the body can help one locate and loosen these blockages of energetic flow, and that intentionality can be used to elevate consciousness and create sustained mindfulness.
Karen Berg and I have teamed up to bring these messages in alignment and to facilitate spiritual, emotional, and physical flow with workshops around the world. Our upcoming retreat at Omega Institute is June 9-14. For more information, visit https://karenberg.com/expression-of-the-soul/
May you acknowledge and receive the Divine Light bestowed to you and may you give freely of yourself and the light you have been given.
Kabbalistic Meditation Practice
Relax your body and gently close your eyes, envisioning all the organs, muscles and bones in your body to be calm, relaxed and at peace.
Find a place in your life where you felt safe, a place that is comfortable for you to feel at one with yourself, a place where you can simply BE.
Visualize yourself in this safe place, imagine it’s a warm summer day, and you are walking and thinking and simply being.
Then, from a distance you see an image coming closer and closer to you.
It is the you of yesterday– you the child. As the child comes close, you welcomed this child and dance with it, looking it in the eyes and saying, “Thank you, you got me here, I am here because of you. I am sorry that I didn’t recognize that you are a part of me.”
Think of the things that happened to you as a child that hurt you, such as feeling alone, not being heard, or perhaps a feeling of being unwanted.
Look at these eyes that look at you and smile and tell those eyes, “Thank you, I will take care of you now, I will find the part of me that need to be matured, the places I need to appreciate more. You are the greatest gift, for you have given me my life and allow me to be who I am and I appreciate and love you for that. I will keep you inside me forever and I love you, I want you to stay inside of me forever, I am not taking care of you and will allow you presence. I thank you my child for all the things that I had to go through for you got me to where I am and I appreciate the adult who I am. And anytime I feel the reactive childlike behaviors arise in me I will ask if it is coming from my child and if it is I will bless my child.”
Now give your child a great big hug and feel what is it like to recognize the child who didn’t receive all that it could have and all yourself to RECEIVE and be fulfilled by more then you and to appreciate and to becoming more of the mature, loving individual that the Creator designed you to be.
And now, lets go back to the place where you started, into your own private space. Remembering that you are just a child in the eyes of the creator and you may do all sorts of things that you feel like are mistakes but let yourself receive this guidance and healing now to be all that you can be.
Slowly come back to your body consciousness, breathing into your body and gently opening your eyes.
Watch the Dance of Liberation Film
I invite you to take a personal pilgrimage with me. We have completed a full feature film: Dance of Liberation We launch the film on April 26 & you can download it on iTunes, Google & Amazon.
Receive a free download of the Film Dance of Liberation
For our LA Yoga Magazine audience we are offering a free download of our film through the end of May. Email us to receive the link: [email protected]
Here is the promo for DOL & when you have time you can watch the full feature: https://vimeo.com/297190393 password: dolryth
About the Dance of Liberation Documentary
Dance of Liberation follows the visually stunning, inspirational journey of a lost, broken young woman who transforms into a powerful soul healer – and bravely tries to mend her deepest childhood wound along the way.
As a girl, Jerusalem-born Sigalit Bat Haim suffers severe learning disabilities, inherited from a father who abandoned the family to start a new life as an Ultra Orthodox Jew in the desert of Palestine. Grappling with a deep sense of isolation and rejection, young Sigalit discovers her sole source of soul expression: dance. As a dancer she is nimble, unruly, and utterly free.
Weaving together sumptuous dance sequences in wild natural settings, tender family archives, and stirring interviews with heartfelt, sage spiritual visionaries, Dance of Liberation explores Sigalit’s unfolding identity in the wilderness of the soul. In adulthood, a series of devastating injuries draws Sigalit to the practice of yoga, where she begins uncovering her spiritual identity, taking refuge in an ashram and eventually receiving the name Parashakti – “goddess of life” – a reflection of her Hebrew given name, “daughter of life.”
Like father, like daughter, Parashakti finds herself driven to a life of spiritual seeking and healing. But very much unlike him, she weaves together a vibrant patchwork of traditions, finding a chosen elder in Native American traditions. Parashakti further clarifies her own voice as she develops a raucous, vibrant, medicinal ritual called Dance of Liberation, leading hundreds around the world in ecstatic ceremony and profound soul healing.
Surprise visits when Parashakti falls passionately in love with a Muslim seeker, only to discover that the cord to her Jewish past is pulling at her soul more ardently than she imagined. Ultimately Parashakti comes to the realization that she must integrate Parashakti and Sigalit, and mend things with the one man who has hurt her the most, and who may understand her the best: her father. The two set out on a climactic and visually jaw-dropping pilgrimage to the desert, to visit the deepest parts of their souls and meet one another as whole individuals.
The result is deeply moving, painful, and not at all easy. But it is a major step towards real healing. Dance of Liberation is about the journey to integrate past and present, our highest selves with our most wounded selves, and our born selves with our true selves. It is about the bravest journey of all: the journey to wholeness.
There is no coming to consciousness without pain. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. – C.G. Jung