Adventures In Hitbodidut | Clarity & Connection

Bal 21

 

11/19/2015

Adventures In Hitbodidut | Clarity & Connection

During a hitbodidut session on October 15th I was asking the Creator for something that’s important to me.

I asked what I could do to help make it happen.

An immediate response came through me which said to stop consuming alcohol and substances, attend minyan (prayer group) every day for shacharit and mincha and spend an hour a day in hitbodidut.

I was like, can I just have alchohol on Shabbat? And the response I felt was “no”.

I was like, what about just some wine on Shabbat for Kiddush, since it’s a spiritual requirement?, and the response I received was “no”.

So since this thing I want is so important to me, and since the clarity I received while reaching out to the Source was so clear, I made the commitment. And since then, I’ve kept it 100% and intend to.

The deal I made was that until this thing either happens, or clearly doesn’t happen, the deal is on. So I’m restricting from the intake of intoxicants and I’m exerting in effort to attend minyan and practice daily hitbodidut.

The feeling I got was that for me, for this to happen, I needed to be totally clear and connected. And now I feel like I am doing everything I can, physically and spiritually, to make it happen.

This comes on the heels of a new type of prayer that I’ve been connecting with over the past few months. I know that I’m here for my will to be tested – given the opportunity to exercise my free will to test my heart. And I know that at the end it’s the will of the heart that the Creator wants from me. So I’ve been praying and asking that I be given the strength to accomplish my rectification during a time of abundance and not lack, a time of health and not sickness, a time of blessing and bounty – for me to be a worthy recipient of blessing and to be able to grow fully into my potential without the need for difficulty and turmoil in my life.

This requires great pro-activity. It’s common to awaken from slumber when an emergency strikes. It’s common to get on our knees at a time of tragedy and great challenge. But when things are smooth sailing and dreams are becoming reality, it’s mad tough to remember the Source and keep it real. We are too busy relaxing and enjoying the new and improved creature comforts to rouse our self from sleep and grasp at the next rung of our spiritual potential.

I believe that I was created to receive the highest good from the Source, and that highest good is connecting my soul – which is a part of the Source – to the Source. I recognize that my ego and identity has developed its own separate version of what it considers good. And surrounding this image of what is good, are protective barriers which are not always so positive.

For example, I noticed that it was important for me to be viewed as good and successful in the eyes of others. So, at times when those around me would succeed, I would feel diminished in comparison. This handicap did not allow for me to fully celebrate others successes, and at times led me to even feel relief from others failures. Like, I could be their savior when they are down, or my reality somehow seemed more positive compared to their suffering and challenge. I recognize this as an illness caused by my own twisted view of my self from the perspective of my limited identity. Believing this leads to a form of baseless hatred, since I am separating myself from my brothers and sisters, secretly unable to share their joy.

Baseless hatred is the reason why the first and second temples were destroyed because God cannot rest the unity of His Presence among this form of hatred and separation – I’ve prayed for hours and hours on this matter. To not only realize, but to internalize and transform my own self worth and how it is effected by my identity’s version of my self.

I am commanded to love my brother like I love myself. Really, there is no difference. The only seeming difference comes from my ego which sees my self and my soul’s will as separate – and this is a form of enslavement to the physical. True joy comes from ascending beyond the constraints of my ego and transcending my physical identity into alignment with my eternal soul. This is how to build a worthy vessel for Divine abundance.

Since October 15th I’ve been hitting the mikvah every morning, praying in a minyan, refining my character traits during hitbodidut and judging my actions and intentions all throughout the day – realizing that everything is a test. Everything is from Hashem. My job is clear – to align with Hashem’s will through aligning my attributes with His revealed attributes. And only when I am on this path and involved in this process am I really happy.

The daily hitbodidut allows for me to scan my last 24 hours. To remember how I lost my patience with my son, how I talked about business on Shabbat, and on and on. And, how I felt about each of those actions. How they produced a sense of separation between my soul and my body. An energetic feeling of dis-alignment I get to revisit. I repent on each of those actions and I vow to try my best to not repeat them. And I forgive myself and I earn true deep joy through the process of rectification of my actions. My disconnection brings me to become even more connected. This is the power to teshuva – and without mindful contemplation, it’s very tough to accomplish on the fly.

I feel clear now. I have more energy. I feel more productive – and the things I was and am praying for which started all this are seeming closer and closer. I feel like I’m doing my part. I’m grateful for what I have and for what’s in front of me.

I know that my life will be full of twists and turns ahead but I know that if I stay clear and connected, I’ll be able to get through it all successfully.

Man, I miss Balvenie 21 Portwood and Oban and Glenmorangie 18. I can put down more than most. I miss that Friday night pre shul lullaby high and that Saturday morning buzz l’kavode Shabbos kodesh. But, something inside so clearly is telling me that I need all the energy I can access now – I need clarity, restriction, focus and exertion to take my game to the next level and to create a vessel worthy of receiving all that I’m asking for.

Blessings,

Etan

Adventures In Hitbodidut | Clarity & Connection

On these SoHo streets

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10/12/2015

On these SoHo streets

Walking through the streets of NYC these days with a crazy beard and skull cap feels different than it used to be. I keep thinking about what’s going on in Israel and Europe – I’m a target over there. So I’ve become more suspicious about how others see me here on these SoHo streets filled with all these happy tourists from all around the world.

Where I live, in addition to frequent “Salam Alekem’s”,  I get “Shabbat Shalom’s”  from the under cover brothers. I get “Chag Sameach’s”  from the Israeli tourists. I get screams of “Moshiach Now” from the car windows of out of town Chabad passerbyers. The words are usually accompanied with a nod of unspoken communication – like, I am also Jewish and I relate to you and you bring out something from me. It feels like they need me. And that feeling makes me feel like I need them.

It’s easy to settle into our surroundings. Into community norms, institutional norms, geographic norms – and that can hold down a soul from chasing the light of its potential.

The body and its surrounding environment cannot fully house the soul. So we are really always in a state of breaking out. Expanding. Growing closer toward the Source. So folks whose souls crave to rise beyond the constraints of their limited physical identities and personalities give me that nod because that part of themselves sees something they can relate to – like, I also have that within, and you bring out something from me. It feels like they need me. And that feeling makes me feel like I need them.

Same with those suffering with self doubt, addiction, depression and all forms of mental illness. Like, I see you live beyond the bounds so the part of me that’s trapped here has hope and strength from seeing you breaking free. Through your Emunah and certainty and faith in Hashem – through that, I have hope. It feels like they need me. And that feeling makes me feel like I need them.

Now is not the time to go undercover. Now is the time to boldly rise toward our own greatest potential, to inspire and connect with others.

The prophets talked about this time thousands of years ago. The sages say that the way to navigate and remain safe today is through Torah and acts of kindness. Torah means the way, the wisdom, the code transmitted by the Source to us, the elixir to life. And acts of kindness means alot, including only seeing the good in yourself and in others and never speaking negatively about yourself or others under any circumstance.

Rav Shalom Arush lays out for us a five step plan to navigate these troubling times,  eloquently elaborated by yours truly:

1. Strengthen ourselves in Emunah. Incorporate our higher wisdom and understanding and stretch further during prayer, meditation and intention in every day actions – to live what we learn and learn more – and continue that cycle constantly for the rest of our lives. Never despairing. Never stopping.

2. Recall Hashem’s love for us, recalling the past miracles done for our nation in 1967, 1973, 1991, and all through recent years until today. And, thank Hashem for our national salvations and our private salvations. Think about our own miracles and take nothing for granted. Thank Hashem constantly. Be in a constant state of gratitude for everything in life. For the most trivial detail.

3.Those who are not yet plugged into the miraculous healing power of the holiest 24 hour period of the week A.K.A. Shabbat – those who have not yet merited to bask in the cradle of light which awaits us at sundown Friday – those who have not yet given themselves the sweet gift of rest and inner peace and connection to the ultimate purpose – those still stuck in the quicksands of today, walking in circles around the ordinary week – should begin immediately to follow their inner Divine spark who craves intensely for the requisite freedom and healing recharge of the Shabbat. Weighing in at number 4 of the Ten Commandments, if you observe the Shabbat it’s like you hold up the entire Torah.

Violating the level of Shabbat that we are personally holding today removes us from the powerful realm of Shabbat, pushing away the greatest gift of purpose, peace and rest and joy that can only be experienced with the assistance of the extra soul that joins us on Shabbat, and the angels who dance around our Shabbat table. And, says Rav Arush, those who observe Shabbat should strengthen their knowledge of the laws of Shabbat.

4. One should ponder Hashem constantly and speak to Him as much as possible.

5. One should encourage others to learn and strengthen Emunah.

Perhaps what is most important to us now, is to love each other like we love our self. To love peace and pursue peace within and between ourselves. This brings peace between the Source and His people.

Blessings,

Etan

On these SoHo streets

Raise your head child

Cloud-Heaven

5/29/2015

Raise your head child

Well this week’s post was a tough act to follow.

I can tell you that the blog and social media lit up as heart felt love and directed props poured through the universe. Sometimes the most sane wisdom comes from the darkest moments.

When you open a channel to a constricted pipe you experience an explosion of repressed expression – and when you hear a man in constriction expose his deepest darkest truths, it draws in our attention. We can relate in our own way. We feel proud because it represents raw and honest expression which is a very ventilating concept to those of us trapped in a world of self imposed boundaries and limitations. It’s fresh air that strikes a familiar nerve deep within anyone on the growth path of conscious living. Because on the path, at every turn, we meet our adversary whose purpose is to hold us down and guard us from reaching our potential – from raising our heads upwards.

Many have come out of the woodwork expressing their own darkness this week – and leaving them on the curb left to dry without another dose is just cruel. So here we go.

Nasso et Rosh– RAISE THE HEADS.

Even when we are knocked down, cycling through the mental obstacles we are facing – even when we feel banished from connection with the Source – especially then, we lift our heads.

We show up to service with open arms, open vessels, and plead to the Source like a loved child for mercy – for redemption – for stronger faith.

We raise our weary heads to the Source above, in pure honesty, humility and with the realization that every single thing comes from the Source – there is nothing but the Source above – all apparent duality and multiplicity comes from the One Source.

At service, on that bench, dressed up and surrounded with brothers and sisters – melting away from the grip of the week – with your list of wants and needs and requests for mercy on yourself and your loved ones – raising your head in authentic expression at that moment is a prerequisite.

Nasso, my bar mitzvah parsha, is about lifting my head to Hashem – expressing my desire and love of Hashem and requesting that He help me win this war. Only Hashem can rescue me as there is nothing other than Hashem.

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“When Moses arrived at the tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he heard the Voice speaking to him from atop the Cover that was upon the Ark of the testimony, from between the two Chrubim, and He spoke to him.”

– Numbers 7:89

That same communication is going on today, every moment. The delight of experiencing the Divine Presence is the salvation. That’s winning the war. All other delights are fleeting. Shabbos Nasso gives us the opportunity to raise our heads and break free from our limitations – to re-establish our connection with the Source of our experience.

Our eternal soul is a giver and our temporary body is a taker. The joy experienced through giving is immeasurably greater than the pleasure of receiving. Soul connection is the desire to give, manifested.

The soul is an extension of the Source and the Source is endless blessing.

Soul connection is the experience of joy and sweetness in life. The sweetness of wisdom, connection and giving.

Lifting my head upwards means being in a constant state of gratitude for what appears to be going well and what appears to not be.

As the Baal HaSulam so eloquently put it:

“Eternal life is when you are ready to live every moment of your life forever”

Shabbat Shalom.

Blessings,

Etan

Raise your head child

Shrouds and Shovels

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3/27/2015

Shrouds and Shovels

Don’t cap your upside, transform your downside.

Fear and lack of self worth manifest a breeding ground for a dis-aligned relationship with success.

We need to welcome with royal treatment the experience of deep joy and gratitude when “good” things happen – and work on lessening the emotional turbulence of “bad” things as they are experienced- transforming “bad” experiences through perceiving the hidden “good” in the ‘bad”.

The Alter Rebbe revealed how seeing “good” in “bad”, through piercing the veil of the illusion of “bad”, merits the unveiling of higher perceptions of the Source in the World To Come – and we know that the World To Come is a state of mind we can achieve right now. We are, after all, in the Ein Sof (the eternal realm of no limit)- we are in God, not just God in us. Not only cap your downside, lift it higher than your upside. It’s all upside.

Spin how we look at things to best work for us – as Rebbe Nachman revealed – we need joy to best serve the Source – so why cap it? – especially since it comes from the Source as a sweet gift?

Reading stories of how some of the holiest sages shunned money – and how wealth and piety can rarely co exist – is always something that haunted me – because I had it set up that shunning abundance is on the most pious level. Now, however, I prefer to focus my mind on how through transforming themselves into dust, the holiest sages attracted all the abundance in the world. That’s a winning system.

A faulty relationship with abundance creates dis-alignment within ourselves, and is the adversary’s technique to set us up for inner conflict and failure – a repellant for light and abundance.

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Most people get mad when they are late, but don’t jump up and down and throw parties if they are on time. Why cap the upside and let the downside roll? It’s punishment and self sabotage – and dangerous – and, according to the law of attraction, it just welcomes in more negativity like a magnet to metal dust.

Really? Not saying thank you for the gifts? – or worse, repelling them in the name of “piety”, and then sobbing and praying when they aren’t manifesting? Not a winning system.

Other people are relying on your miracles, and it’s not fair to them to inflict your repellant views on their portion. At least take a democratic vote from your dependents, partners and charities before you crawl into a hole and attract shrouds and shovels.

There is a well know yiddish saying that translates to “Man plans, God laughs”. True, huh?

Well, you know what’s also true with an aligned relationship to the “ups” and “downs” in life, where we tap into gratitude for the “good” in the “bad” – and ultimately reach a level of higher perception and joy which allows for the celebration of both?

“God plans, man laughs”.

And, we get to serve the Source in joy – through the ups and downs, ins and outs and “goods” and bads”. That’s a winning system.

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Blessings,

Etan

Shrouds and Shovels

Loving You is a roller coaster

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3/13/2015

Loving You is a roller coaster

Dear Source of my reality,

I don’t even know Your Name – but I feel You deeper than anything I know.

You are my reality – my make up, and all that ever was, is or will be. You tell us You love us and we should love You, but loving You is a roller coaster.

Why couldn’t You have made it just a little bit easier? I mean, I know the answers – about how giving us the opportunity to have free will requires us to be pulled 50/50 in equal and opposite directions. About how growth is only possible in an environment where we have resistance and opportunity to evolve. I’ve learned all about Your higher mercy and I’ve learned the secrets of why and how You created the world I’m in – but loving You is a roller coaster.

I even know why I need to go through ups and downs and ins and outs and everything in between, but sometimes when I do, my emotions and anxieties can take over. At times when I tax myself hard and push physically to follow the path You set before me, I come up against moments of excitement, fear, optimism and let down – You drag me through the whole spectrum of emotional experience.

Sometimes You spoon feed me, and sometimes You dump bounty on my head – it sometimes feels like it makes sense, and other times I’m in the dark. I have feelings of clarity and inspiration, and feelings of anxiety and frustration – loving You is a roller coaster.

You give me gifts of exhilaration through Your kindness and then temper it with Your judgement – and I can’t keep up with You – it seems You’re always one step ahead. I know I’m planting seeds, and I know I’m experiencing fruits from past grows – but loving You is a roller coaster.

The thing with me, my Benefactor, my Maker, is that I just wanna do Your will, but have so much of my will that I’m still so attached to. You take me high and low, and all I want is to be with You in joy. I know it can be done because I’ve seen it – and I am asking for another major free gift from You.

Please take these words as an expression of my complete teshuva (retuning to You). I give my life to You publicly, even though I’m nowhere near ready to be tested at this level. At least I know the truth, and I share the truth, and I ask that You have special mercy on me and line my path with an extra dose of kindness – the basic kind of kindness that I can see. Help me purify myself completely so that I can transform into a pure channel of You in this world, and bring me to the heights of joy in the process.

I know about all the sages and the major tests and struggles they endured, and still do, on behalf of Your nation – I’m not at their level – I watch and learn from them in complete awe.

Well, my Master, my Friend, my Love, my Creator, I give my life to You. I’ve figured out the only way I’m happy is when I’m bound to You and fulfilling Your Divine utterances and commandments.

I fear You so much, and I love You more.

And I know that behind everything that happens to me, there You are communicating to me.

Please help me see it more clearly so I can serve You better, and please do so in a way which brings me massive success in all I endeavor upon –  massive health for all who I pray for – massive abundance for all who I work with – and complete unity for Your nation and all of humanity.

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Your humble servant,

Etan

Loving You is a roller coaster

Take the plunge – Pre Shabbat Mikvah Adventures

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1/26/2015

Take the plunge – Pre Shabbat Mikvah Adventures

It’s Friday 1pm and I’m standing here at the edge of the Mikvah. One foot still in the week and the other in Shabbat. When I come back up those stairs I’m another man in another zone.

Shabbat is all about shaking free from the accumulated energetic buildups of the week – and hitting the Mikvah (ritual bath) before Shabbat, elevates Shabbat to the sanctuary of a crispy clean palace fit for Divine royalty.

In addition to the angels who descend upon your dining room this evening with gifts of peace and blessing, guess who else is joining your family for dinner tonight? Yup, the Source. He’s here to celebrate with you the purpose of creation – the first in thought, last in deed. It is wise to prepare the home environment for a visit from the King of kings. Items left on the floor or pillows out of place may be viewed as suspicious. The Mikvah is the spiritual shower for the prisoner who is brought before the King’s throne.

I share this, to this extent, because at the end, you’re not gonna be thanking a friend with awe of heaven, who didn’t honk a loud horn in your ears, to wake you up, as you casually strolled toward the sunset along the endless boardwalk of disconnection.

When we share truth its natural for someone to question the underlying elements of belief. “How do you know for sure?”, Creeps out of the mind of he whose soul craves what they are about to hear.

If you stand a dead man up on his heels, perfectly balanced, and ever so gently let go, the dead man will always collapse. The magic of the soul is what’s within the cellular structure – the hand beneath the glove.

Nature and the physical universe is a beyond magnificent display showcasing the even more awesome, and on going, capabilities of the Source of all sources – the Merciful Megapixel Broadcaster Himself.

You need to shout in your brother’s ear and rebuke him from his iPhone inbox to break through the paralyzing grip of the Egypt of today.

A total sell out to the adversary – to keep us constantly clinging to devices that become, if judged according to action, more important than a new born child crying for milk.

Shabbat is a reminder that really, we serve the Creator. Mikvah is about re-emerging pure and connected, rejuvenated and refreshed, invigorated, light filled, in a holy zone – free and in joy, dancing in the footsteps of Shabbos Kodesh.

There’s a guy I usually see at the Mikvah – he must be like 80 – long white beard hunched over with a black hat – there every week like clockwork – rain snow or shine – and the joy he gets distributing the light of the Lubavitcher Rebbeh- those weekly pamphlets – the joy and complete certainty of purpose to share the wisdom of the holy prophets and sages who have inspired him – who have led him from Egypt to freedom – his hand is his computer, his pamphlet his blog post – he just says “Zei Gezunt” (be healthy/well) in a Russian accent, and hands you a pamphlet – That’s it.

And here he comes right now…

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I don’t see things by chance – and for this to be happening right now, the first sign sent to me upon exiting the Mikvah – as I’m writing this piece, on this bench, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.. Personal supervision is clear to me – so that’s why I try to break it down and explain it clearly. You’re the main character and this is your set, and I’m just an old friend with a horn, in your inbox.

Now back to humming the Breslov Lecha Dodi niggun…

and off home to sail into shabbos.

Blessings,

Etan

Take the plunge – Pre Shabbat Mikvah Adventures