Does Jewish Meditation Exist?

Yes of course, Jewish meditation exists. We've written about it extensively in our new book (forthcoming). And now in our latest teaching (Liturgy of the Days of Awe at the Jewish Theological Seminary) we have extended our explanation and definition of Jewish meditation to subsume more of the classical Jewish prayers and rituals.

We posited in one recent class that the Kol Nidre service was best understood as a brilliant Jewish meditation of compassion, expressed in the scribal idiom of rabbis. Needless to say that needs to be explained at greater length, as we will do  in our forthcoming article on the subject.

Meanwhile back at the New York Times in January, scientific reductionism was running rampant. Meditation was described as having measurable benefits for the brain in a "Well" blog post on the subject, "How Meditation May Change the Brain" by SINDYA N. BHANOO, saying for instance,
...those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The findings will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes...more...
We do deserve more sensitive treatments of religious practice than it appears that the Times can offer up.

1 comment:

malkabay said...

Hello, Rabbi Tzvee,

It was a pleasure reading your blog. Just as an introduction, I am trying to grow this group: http://www.meetup.com/JSpiritualSingles/.

Happy Pesach,
Elly Malka Faden