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Body Awareness Meditation for Morning Prayer

By Rabbi David Dunn Bauer

This is a 5-minute body awareness meditation, to be led by anyone during any Shacharit (morning) service.

If you feel comfortable, please stand and let your eyes gently close. Let your breath be gentle and natural.

Notice how you are aware of light even through your closed eyelids. Colors, sparks, shades.

Let your awareness go to what you hear. With your eyes closed, how much of the world can you perceive through your ears. Your breath, your neighbor's, the traffic, the air conditioning....

Mindful of your safety, let your weight shift from one foot to the other. God is the roka ha'aretz al hamayim, who puts solid earth under our feet.

With compassion, let your eyes gently open. Notice how your perception of light has changed in the last few minutes. Notice light, color, shapes, architecture, fashion, faces. God is the poke'akh ivrim.

Shrug or shimmy, move to feel the friction of your clothes against your skin. God is the malbish arumim, who clothes the naked. Let yourself feel all that sensation, now and throughout the service.

Mindful of your neighbor's well-being, lift your arms up to your sides. Rotate your arms. Check all your joints. God frees the captive, matir asurim. How are you free to move today? Where is there restriction?

Bending your knees slightly, allow your head to tilt forward. Roll forward vertebrae by vertebrae. Let yourself double over as far as you can without any pain or discomfort. Roll back up, one vertebrae at a time. God is the zokef kefufim, who straightens up those who are bent over.

Let that movement continue to carry you upward, onto your toes as we do during the kedushah. Reach up towards the heavens. God makes firm our steps.

Settle back down into your feet. Feel all four corners of your feet firmly settled into your shoes. This blessing, she' asah li kol tzorki, God who meets my needs, was originally for the privilege of wearing shoes. It can also be translated, "God who creates all my needs." Everything we need or desire is a function of our nature as created by God. Breathe into that possibility.

With your next inhalation, tense or flex every muscle in your body. Feet, legs, thighs, tuchus, groin, gut, chest, arms, all the muscles in your face. Feel your strength. Hold your breath and feel your strength, your gevurah.

As you exhale, allow everything to relax as you feel your blood flow, your breath slide out, your radiant energy infuse your whole being. God crowns us with tifarah, with splendor.

Now the hard part. What is some aspect of yourself you find beautiful or that someone you love loves about you. Perhaps it's of your physical self, your intellect, your emotional self, your body, your mind, your spirit. Close your eyes, everyone. [WAIT for that!] Place your hands someplace on your body that you associate with that Divine beauty, that reflection of God. Breathe gently and fully into that awareness. Blessing God she'asani b'tzalmo, who made me in the Divine image.

Open your eyes and swivel or pivot your body to see everyone else in the room. We bless God who made us a part of this Jewish community this morning.

Now take a deep breath in for energy, blessing God, hanotein l'yayef ko'ach, who gives strength to the sleepy