Chanting and Chabad: Jewish Meditation Practices

It’s no secret that there is power in the breath. All of the plants and organisms on our planet are driven by the pure life force that is air. However in today’s busy world of to do’s, often times it is easy to forget how to do what we need most. To breathe.

Meditation is an ancient practice stemming from Buddhism, and focuses on slowing the breath and quieting the mind. While the physical origins of mediation are debatable, scholars such as Stanford Religious Studies Professor Carl Bielefeld, trace meditation to China beginning in the seventh century. Others credit India as the geographic origin of today’s western interpretation of the practice. However, the basic concepts of slowing down the mind and breath can be found in other religions and spiritual practices throughout the world.

Jewish mediation, for example, is another version of quieting the mind. This is part of the practice of what is formally known as Kabbalah. Sound Familiar?

That may be due to a string of celebrities such as Madonna, Victoria Beckham, and more recently a star of One Direction Fame, Harry Styles, who have all been photographed wearing red strings around their wrists, that may symbolize dedication to the practice.

Victoria Beckham, 2006 Photo Credit: Cult News


Traditionally, meditation in Kabbalah consists of chanting various Hebrew vowels, along with coordinated breath and head movements. The purpose of this mediation is to draw oneself closer to the teachings of God as outlined in Tora, and to encourage to mind to see the divine in items of everyday life.

Today western mediation practices are mostly based on the Asian interpretation of the practice. This may be due to the fact that this style of mediation has a reputation for being a great option for beginners, as there are many Buddhist centers and some yoga studios even offer Buddhist mediation classes.

So next time you’re feeling the pressures of life, watching that to do list grow longer and longer, or maybe feeling the tightness of a troubled heart, it might be worth turning to the ancient tradition of stillness. No matter which culture’s practice you resonate with the most, a breath for your lungs is undoubtedly, also a breath for your brain.






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