Each year, at the heart of the month of Shvat, while winter seems at its peak in some parts of the world, Jews celebrate Tu Bishvat, the new year of the trees. This holiday is deeply attuned to the cycle of nature in the land of Israel: Tu Bishvat is when the first almond blossoms appear on the hills of Judea. We have so much to learn from trees, which slowly prepare the blossoming of their buds under the earth and snow. We have so much to learn from almonds, which need to be cracked open to reveal their goodness.
In this daylong meditation retreat, through meditating, chanting, and learning, we will practice how we can blossom like almonds, right now, in the midst of our lives. The retreat will combine mindfulness meditation, traditional Jewish meditation techniques such as chesed, cheshbon nefesh, kavannah, food meditation, walking meditation, chanting, learning, and opportunities for sharing.
Everyone, no matter your level of experience in meditation or Jewish spirituality, is welcome.
Dr Mira Neshama Niculescu is a Paris-born scholar and teacher of Jewish spirituality and meditation. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology of Religion at Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (EHESS) and is a Post-Doctoral Golda Meir Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Oxford Centre for Judaism and Hebrew Studies, researching the phenomenon of Judaism and Buddhism and the current revival of Jewish Meditation. A certified Jewish Mindfulness Teacher with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) and a certified vinyasa ashtanga Yoga teacher, Mira is an Orthodox Smicha Fellow at the Yeshiva Har’El in Jerusalem.
If you have any questions, or you would like to discuss something, please contact Zac, at: email@example.com. He is here to help, and will welcome hearing from you.
Standard Rate: £35
Scholarship Rate: £15 – available to all who cannot afford the Standard rate
Supporter Rate: £65
The Supporter rate is an invitation to help keep HaMakom accessible to all by paying a higher rate, and thereby enabling those who would not otherwise be able to, to come on the retreat at a subsidised rate. We are deeply grateful to all those who allow us to offer scholarship rates to those who need them, and make available practices for grounding and healing rooted in the Jewish tradition.
Retreat fees go solely towards HaMakom’s operating expenses, and do not include payment to Dr Mira Niculescu for leading our retreat. In the Jewish tradition of generosity/Chesed, the teachings are offered freely. At the end of the retreat, there will be an invitation to make a donation to Mira in support of her livelihood and ongoing teaching.
If you cannot afford the Scholarship rate please contact our Retreat Manager, Zac at: firstname.lastname@example.org. No one will be turned away because of their financial circumstances.
The Benefits of Jewish Mindfulness Meditation
(from: The Institute for Jewish Spirituality)
We are dedicated to introducing this practice into the Jewish world for several reasons:
- to enliven and enhance Jewish prayer, celebration, ritual and community;
- to be part of working for the betterment of our fragile and vulnerable planet; and
- to recognize the true and deep sources of happiness in a world filled with seductive, competing and ultimately unsatisfying short-term fixes.
How can Mindfulness Meditation Help?
Mindfulness meditation is training the mind. Just as we go to the gym to make our bodies stronger and more flexible, so mind training helps make our minds more spacious, perceptive and most of all free.
We train our capacity to pay attention by turning our attention, like a flashlight, on our own minds. This helps us see more clearly the nature of our own minds. We become aware of the patterns and habits that run our lives but have not been previously visible.
We begin to realize that these patterns and habits may serve our goals, desires, and purposes – but often they do not. We start to realize that there actually is a “pause button” built into our system. This pause button can be activated when we become triggered by an event outside ourselves and are tempted to act in reactive, patterned and unskilful ways.
The “pause button” wakes us up, creates a space in our mind where we can ask the question: ”What is the skilful, wholesome, wise, goal oriented action I need to take in this moment?” “What are my choices here?” The development of this capacity for inner freedom is why we train in mindfulness. This can be profoundly useful in our lives, especially in our relationships, and in any task we undertake to realize our dreams or express our creativity.
By cultivating attention, we are also able to feel more satisfied with each moment of our experience.
We learn to rest in this moment as it unfolds.
We learn to bring our awareness to the flow of energy in the body which is the very miracle of our aliveness. We learn to be more receptive to the fullness of each moment, rather than resisting what has already occurred or projecting what is not yet here. We learn to notice the arising and passing of all experience, recognizing how short and precious this life is.
We learn to treasure each day for the miracle it is. This is itself a source of happiness. According to modern neuroscience, the mind is a dynamic flow of experiences rather than a fixed state. When we experience this for ourselves, we feel less isolated, less caught in judgment and adversity, and more open to the mystery and majesty of this very life.