Having slept/sat/stood through 41 High Holiday Services, I’ve, fortunately, picked up a thing or two that have become profoundly useful in my life. This year, rather than just silently contemplate those things this year when we’re supposed to be praying silently, I thought I’d jot them down and share them. (I’m assuming G-d will forgive me for writing in services as long as it’s properly formatted. At least I’m transcribing it and then transfering it to my computer after the holiday). So – here are my top 5 favorite things learned over the years:
- Cheshbon Nefesh (technically means “accounting of the soul” – but also is like a “soul receipt” – which sounds like a good band name). This is the concept of looking back at the prior year to do the equivalent of your personal and spiritual review. Did you achieve your objectives set the prior year? Where might you need some work? Where did things exceed objectives?
- Speaking of objectives: a concept called This Year’s Focus has been a way for me, each year since I was 18, to have a singular objective and to keep things simple and compelling. This year, well, actually, it’s been my journey for several years, is “being present“. But not just in mind or even in body. I learned that both the Hebrew and Chinese words for “attention” or being present have to do with the heart (Sim Lev is the Hebrew for “attention”). This means more readily removing distractions like cell phones, computers and multi-tasking at key moments with my family, and other communities with which I want to be present. Previous years’ foci have included:
- Forgiving myself/cutting myself some slack
- Not judging others
- picking my head up out of the sand