The Place: TorahCycle Vayetze

Where do you find complete peace? Emotional and spiritual sanctuary?  Feel fully open and receptive, without the distractions of fears, fretting, or lists of the mundane. A sense of expansive graciousness and serenity. A place of creative vitality. Experiencing wholeness at a visceral level. This is a great week to remember when you’ve had that feeling, to invite it into your life more often, and to use that energy to recharge your soul.

This week’s reading’s one of my favorites. Jacob, traveling, lays his head on a rock to sleep, and dreams of a ladder to the heavens, with angels ascending and descending. Upon awakening, he exclaims, HaShem was in this place and I did not know!

The Hebrew word hamakom literally means “the place.” It connotes the physical place where events occur. But in a deeper sense, hamakom means exactly that place of stillness when you’re completely connected with the universe: no ego/I running the show. No busy-ness, no questions, and no need to be anywhere but present. A holy silence you’d happily visit, and are nourished simply by knowing it exists. The real insight: hamakom is available any time you can open to it.

In her wonderful book My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor describes the first few weeks of a stroke that oriented her into her right brain as floating in a place of divine calm. Peaceful euphoria. Surrendering. No longer needing to be in charge. Focused, but content just being.

This feeling is very similar to what athletes describe when they are in the zone, time and opponents standing still. Or what the mother of an infant feels when her child is asleep and she has three minutes of uninterrupted bliss in a hot shower. Traditional methods of access include meditation, chant, and prayer. They all lead to a similar hamakom: a place where the self, the I/ego/me that we spend lots of time feeding and providing for, that tends to run our lives into complex urgency, takes backseat to a greater sense of universal meaning and calm. Instead of frenzy we feel peace.

You can get to hamakom simply, by offering yourself more chances to go there. Whether you have more formal practice or access hamakom through a walk in the woods, music, or some other gate, I hope you allow yourself that beautiful sense of complete beingness. Honoring you need for hamakom more regularly will make you happier.

Try a simple experiment to open the doors of your heart and psyche. A couple times a day this week, just close your eyes for twenty seconds. Focus on your breathing. In, out. In, out. Nothing more complicated or even longer. No mantras or prayers. Just breath. Slowing down. Being present. Being in hamakom.

Try it. See if it changes anything.