The Kabbalistic meditative tradition has, for the last few thousand years utilized sacred words or phrases to induce altered states of consciousness through practices of deep meditation. One of the most ancient of these sacred verses is the one found in the Book of Deuteronomy:
“Sh’ma Israel Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.” [Deut. 6:4]
Immediately following this verse in Torah we read: “…repeat [these words] when you sit in your house [i.e. meditate], when you walk on your way, when you lie down, and when you rise up;” an injunction for a meditation practice.
The Chasidic masters of 18th century Eastern Europe called such practice of contemplative meditation Hitbonenut. Following in their steps, each participant in our Shabbaton Meditation Retreat will be given tools to discern for him/herself what is, at present, most calling for attention in their lives; and set for themselves a Kavanah, an Intention/Focus, for the retreat and beyond. They will then choose a sacred word or phrase commensurate to their Kavanah to use through this weekend of Hitbonenut, contemplative meditation practice.
The Whidbey Institute will host Bet Alef for the third time in a beautiful and nurturing place. It is the perfect backdrop for deeply moving and spiritual experience for a retreat led by Rabbi Olivier. And by the way, the food is amazing!