Introduction: Elements of Embodied Judaism

Photo Credit: photojenni (Creative Commons Attribution Copyright)
Photo Credit: photojenni (Creative Commons Attribution Copyright)

We live in cycles. This seems like an obvious statement, but most of us have been indoctrinated from birth into linear time. First you do this, then this, then this. It’s why birthdays are so important in our society. They mark your next step in a linear process. Even if we are aware of the cycles of time that occur in our lives (minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, seasons, years, etc) we aren’t generally conscious of how they affect us except in very specific, societal accepted ways. For example:

  • We know each day there is a cycle when we wake and sleep.
  • We know each week has a period of time when we work and then a shorter time when we “play” before we work again.
  • We know women have a monthly cycle for much of their lives.
  • We know that the seasons will each come in their turn.

The truth is though, that we fight cycles in our lives because our society has been fabricated on linear time. We celebrate the “end” of a decade, because it’s a mile marker on a straight road– not because it is the end of a cycle and possibly the begging of a new one.

This sense of linear time is also the reason, I believe, so many people lose or abandon their spiritual practices over time, if they are not part of a tradition that has a distinct “end game.” When a spiritual practice no longer feels effective, we feel defective. What if we started to approach our spirituality with some of the same sense of wisdom we are begging to approach the idea of “sustainability.” What if we applied the principles of crop rotation or “crop sequencing” to our spiritual practices?

“Crop rotation also seeks to balance the fertility demands of various crops to avoid excessive depletion of soil nutrients. … Crop rotation can also improve soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants.” (Wikipedia)

I propose that there are cycles of spirituality that need to be rotated as well. Some spiritual practices deplete our inner soil and need to be feed through other practices. For some this may be a long cycle taking decades before a change needs to happen. I believe for many a seasonal approach that works with the seasons of the year may provide a healthy framework for a sustainable spirituality.

With the end of 2009 rapidly approaching and with it the end of a decade, many people will be thinking long and hard (or short and surface) about their lives and how they live them.  Considering the the past ten years and the aspect of the greater generational cycle we are living in, we really should be thinking hard about our lives right now.  Instead of making a new year’s resolution you aren’t going to keep — why not join me on this journey?

People who subscribe to my Rosh Chodesh Wheel of the Year Guides have already been getting a taste of this, and it will continue to be included in those monthly guides.  But, over the next few months I’m going to begin to write about this concept in much more depth here on the website and hope to have at least one or two tele-workshops about the topic.  If you are interested in possibly participating, please fill in this form and tell me a little about yourself to help me plan the workshop.

Elements of Embodied Judaism Series:

5 Replies to “Introduction: Elements of Embodied Judaism”

  1. I really like the idea of spiritual crop rotation. As you point out, it's important to know which practices are important but deplete us. The trick is finding the right mix for oneself. Some practices take years to come to fruition, so, as you point out, it's important to find the adjunct practices that can sustain us through the germination period. Good post!

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