Guided Meditation for the High Holidays

Focusing on the year that's ending.

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In recent years, some Jewish groups, especially the Jewish Renewal movement, have begun incorporating guided meditation into their worship and spiritual life. The following meditation was written for Tashlikh, the Rosh Hashanah ritual in which sins are symbolically tossed away, but it is appropriate for any time during the High Holiday season. Reprinted with permission from Ma'yan: The Jewish Women's Project.  

We begin this meditation by standing in mountain pose. So, make sure that:

  1. Your feet are about shoulder-width apart

  2. Your feet are pressing evenly into the floor

  3. Your knees are relaxed

  4. Your shoulders are loose and that your arms are dangling by your sides

  5. Your facial muscles are softened

  6. Your spine makes a straight line from your stomach to your neck, pulling up to a point above your head.

  7. Your arms are stretched straight by your sides.

Roots

Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth to secure this position. With each breath afterwards, see if you can notice tiny adjustments you can make to deepen the posture.

rosh hashanah meditationIn these next breaths, begin to imagine roots growing from all different parts of your feet, reaching deep into the ground. Imagine that these roots are pulling your feet down flat into the soil, supporting you-see if you can feel them from your toes, your heels, your arches, and the ball of your feet. Relax your arms, straighten your spine and breathe.

The Past Year

Now that we're in a relaxed position, start to think back through this past year. Let images enter and exit your mind-small moments, meaningful moments, smells, pictures and faces. Think back now to last Elul [the month preceding Rosh Hashanah], last September: where were you at the last High Holiday cycle? What promises had you made? What goals did you have for the coming year?

Move now into late September and October, the middle of fall, the Hebrew month of Tishrei; the holiday of Sukkot and the time for harvesting. What kinds of benefits did you reap this year? Financial? Educational? Experiential? See if you can recall them now.

Think now about last November, roughly the Hebrew month of Heshvan. Late fall, colder weather. The natural world slowly moving from bountiful to barren as the winter moves in, so that the cycle can begin again in the spring. Think now about changes that you made in your life this year. What patterns did you break? What new work did you take on?

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Erika Katske is the Executive Director at San Francisco Organizing Project. She was previously a Program Associate at Ma'yan: the Jewish Women's Project.