What is this course?
What is Jewish Meditation, and how to learn to practice it in an authentic way?
In this interactive online course with Dr. Mira Neshama Niculescu, we will encounter Jewish meditation intellectually and experientially, with foundational practices based on textual sources from the Jewish tradition. After an introductory session, which will give an overview of the various schools and techniques, we will explore thematically foundational concepts in Jewish meditation.
The course weaves together text study and practice, to empower participants to integrate the practices into their daily lives, incorporating our whole selves – intellectual, emotional, embodied, ethical and spiritual. Together, we will explore the connection between these various levels of our being - our minds, hearts, bodies, speech and actions, and our souls.
Each class will include reading and discussion of a key text, followed by meditation instructions based on the text, meditation practice, and time for questions and sharing at the end. Our work together will complement and strengthen participants' existing spiritual practices such as prayer, ritual observance or yoga.
All texts will be provided with clear line-by-line translations, and no prior knowledge or experience with the subject matter is necessary.
Participants will be invited to work with a spiritual chevruta (partner) to share and optimize their journey of growth, and there is also an online forum for group processing and ongoing support.
This course is welcoming of advanced students and novices alike.
How does it work?
The course consists of nine interactive online classes, of 75 minutes each, which participants can participate in live, or watch later at their own convenience.
Sessions consist of close study of texts followed by guided practice.
Each session includes:
1) An interactive online class, led by Dr. Mira. These sessions include a close reading of Jewish texts in their original, clearly translated and explained, followed by meditation practice and sharing.
These sessions can be participated in live for a direct interaction with the teacher, or watched at your convenience.
2) A printable handout of relevant texts from Biblical, Rabbinic, Kabbalistic and Chassidic sources, provided in full translation with introductory comments and guiding questions.
3) Clear and down-to-earth practice instructions for continuing to work with the practice of each session at home.
4) An open channel to the teacher, to process the journey through the teachings and practices of each class.
5) A WhatsApp discussion group in which participants can share thoughts and experiences, ask questions and receive support in their ongoing practice.
Note: this 9 class series is the first of a two part course on Jewish Meditation. The second series will focus on more advanced Kabbalistic practices.
The course begins on Wednesday, October 28 2020, and continues through December 23 2020.
Live sessions will be held over Zoom on Wednesday nights at 8.30pm Israel time / 6.30pm UK Time / 1.30pm Eastern US Time / 10.30am Pacific US Time.
*Please note the first class falls during a rare week when the time difference between the US and Israel is an hour shorter than usual, so it will happen an hour later in the US.
Sessions can be joined live and/or listened to or watched at your convenience.
Audio and video recordings will be shared each week for participants to use at their own convenience.
The Nine Sessions
In the first part of the course, we will set the frame of our exploration of Jewish Meditation: what it means and what types of contexts and body-mind foci are conducive to it.
1) Pardes: What is Jewish Meditation and why is it so unknown?
2) Shtika: The Gift of Silence
3) Neshima, Neshama: Feeling the Soul Breathe
In the second part of the course, we will explore one of the most basic Jewish Meditation concepts: Kavannah. Kavannah, meaning “intention” or “direction,” speaks about one pointed presence.
4) Kavannah in Everyday Life: Mindfulness of the Divine, Mindfulness in our Actions
5) Kavannah in Ritual Life: Directing the Heart as a Preparation to Prayer
6) Kavannah in Tefilah and Tefilah as Hitbodedut: A Conversation with God
In the third part of the course, we will explore Hitbonenut, which means Contemplation, as a fundamental concept and practice in Jewish Meditation.
7) Hitbonenut as Self-Understanding: Trusting our Inner Wisdom
8) Hitbonenut through Hashkatah: Quieting the Ego to Transform our Character Traits
9) Hitbonenut as Awareness of the Sacred: Seeing the Divine Through Nature
"I always find it a treat and blessing to sit with and learn from Mira. She has a quality of equanimity (menuchat hanefesh) which fills her lessons, and for me, it enhances my learning and meditation. Not to mention her smile and warmth! It is unusual for me to leave without a new thought or idea which is beneficial to my life."
- Judah Rosen, Participant in the Daily Neshima and in the Chesed Meditation series
“Working with Mira is truly a deep breath. She has helped me find spaciousness both in myself and in my relationship to Judaism. Each time we met, she met me where I was at. Together, we asked big questions, explored prayer and ritual, and shared stories and insights that I have been able to incorporate into my life daily. Mira has helped me strengthen and deepen my connection and commitment to myself, my practice, and my spirituality.”
- Naomi Davis, participant in retreats and student of private spiritual counseling
“Mira is a gem of a teacher and scholar as well as a sweet human being! She skilfully weaves deep scholarship and understanding of Torah and the Jewish mystical tradition with a personal depth of experience in meditation practice and theory. Mira is a true shining light in the field of Jewish mindfulness.”
- Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, Director of Camp Ramah in Canada and former Director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training