Elul meditation challenge

Teshuva stone.jpg

The month of Elul, which begins this Saturday night, is traditionally a time of reflection and deep self-inquiry in preparation for the High Holidays journey of teshuvah/reconnection with our best selves. What better time for a new meditation challenge?

Similar to our #40daystoliberate challenge before Passover, the challenge is this: 10 minutes of meditation a day, for the 30 days of Elul. This time around, Rabbi David will offer a weekly kavanah/intention to help frame our practice, and we’ll be holding regular (mostly likely every week) in-person group sits. Regardless of your experience level (see below for some great tips), we invite you to join us! 

Joining the challenge is easy:

  1. Download the Insight Timer app and register.
  2. Tap the "four dots" icon in the upper-left corner and search "Asiyah."
  3. Click to join, and you're in!

When you’re ready to start sitting, just select the timer option from the menu at the bottom of the screen and choose your duration. The Asiyah group page (accessed via the four-dots icon) is where we’ll connect—sharing posts about our experiences, offering support, and learning from each other. Check the page each Saturday night for Rabbi David’s kavanah for the week. We’ll also post announcements there about the in-person group sits.

Our first in-person sit Tues, Aug. 14, has been cancelled. It turns out getting back from a meditation retreat requires a lot of self-gentleness! The next sit will be on Tues. Aug. 21. Details to follow. Let us know if you’d like to join us!

Rabbi David's meditation tips

If you’ve never tried meditation, it might seem intimidating to start. The reality is that nothing could be easier than sitting and breathing. Here's a bit of basic meditation technique to get you started:

  1. Sit comfortably. 
  2. Close your eyes. 
  3. Notice your breath, which is always happening. Don't interfere.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. 
  5. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath, but be gentle with yourself! You can thank the mind for its gifts, then let the thought go.

Whether you're an experienced meditator or not, getting to the chair/cushion can be the hardest part! Here are some suggestions for overcoming this hurdle: 

  1. Show up. Don’t overthink it
  2. Commit. Although it seems reasonable to think in flexible terms, this gives the mind ways out! I put it in my to-do list every day, and think of it as a one-day commitment. Every day, I commit to sitting that day.
  3. Set a timer. Having a timer set with an ending bell helps you experience a taste of eternity, even if only for 10 minutes. Not having one just adds a question to my already racing mind: Have I gone long enough? Too long?
  4. Be consistent. The easiest times are at the beginning or end of the day, but if you have a consistent break in your day, do it then! NOT being consistent leads to “I’ll do it later,” which (for me, at least) leads to “Oops, I forgot.”
  5. Create a ritual. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. For me, it’s turning down the lights in the room; setting my cushion in the same spot on the couch, with a blanket over my legs when it’s cold; and setting my phone (in do-not-disturb mode) down next to me. For you, maybe it’s lighting a candle or some incense. Feel free to add anything that makes you happy—just avoid making it too complex.
  6. Be kind to yourself. This is key. If you miss a day—or two, or 10—that's OK! Just pick up where you left off. And remember, the group is there to encourage you and to offer kindness when you're having trouble doing it for yourself.