"Healing Pharaoh’s Heart"
In the Book of Exodus we learn that in order to embark on the journey to Freedom, we must first encounter Pharaoh, that place in us that is the Tyrant. God commands us, “Bo ayl Paro!” Come in to Pharaoh. God must be speaking from inside the heart of Pharaoh, the heart that has been hardened by grief, despair, stubbornness, fear and struggle.
In this workshop we will do the work of understanding and treating the four distinct Heart diseases of Pharaoh, so that we can learn to soften our own hardened hearts and journey to Freedom.
Through text study, breath-work, chanting, meditation and inner journeying, we will explore the heart of Pharaoh and give our own hearts the loving attention that is required for healing.
"Reconnecting with Body, Earth, and the Wholeness of Life
through Rituals of Our Wisdom Tradition"
The root of the word religion means "to bind." Somehow we get disconnected from our own true essence. Through the best of religion, we gather together to find our way back; to build a life of connected-ness. In this class, we will first explore the ways we have become separated from our own bodies, from the earth on which we dwell and from the wholeness of Creation. We will measure the price of that separation and find within us and between us the power of our deepest longing for connection. That longing can become the fuel for rituals of return.
Our rituals will draw on the Wisdom texts of Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. We will celebrate and re-connect using chant, movement, reflection and sacred dialogue.
Receiving the Blessing and Rising to The Challenge of Torah
Through Spiritual Practice
In this workshop we will learn spiritual practices that help us to rise to the challenge of Torah. We will share with you a method of approaching the Torah which involves receiving her blessing and discerning the spiritual challenge that the text points to in our lives.
"Spiritual Gardening" ~ Gardening in the Soil of the Heart
During this dark and cold time of year we can find within us a fertile garden. Here we can consciously grow the qualities that will best serve us in realizing our true Divine essence. In the Jewish Tradition these qualities are called "midot." The Jewish path is all about cultivating, through intention and practice, qualities like compassion, courage, openness, lovingkindness, honesty, surrender, strength, humility or patience. In this workshop we will set ourselves on a path of cultivating exactly the midot that are required of us now in order to live a holy life. We will utilize the modalities of chant, silent contemplation, self-examination, holy conversation, prayer and imagery to plant a precious seed in the soil of the heart , face the obstacles to growth and nurture our Divine potential.
"Ozi v'zimrat Yah" --
My strength and God-song: Working with the Energy Body
No matter what is happening outside of us, each of us is responsible for our own state of consciousness. If we are to respond wisely and compassionately in difficult situations, then we need to develop a practice that will allow us access to the full power of soul, a wide perspective and a strong calm center. In this workshop we will explore practices that clear and strengthen the energy body, giving us a pathway from survival brain reactivity to mature brain clarity. Using chant, drumming, meditation, imagery, and movement, we will draw on the wisdom of our ancestors and create a strategy for staying open to the God-song while building the strength to sustain a spiritual practice through difficult times.
"The Art of Rejoicing"
There are many words for "Joy" in our tradition. (They say that eskimos have many words for "snow", because they wanted to express the subtle differences in texture temperature and moisture.) All our words for joy express varying aspects of the great force that must be unlocked if we are to serve God, come into our power, and expand our perception and expression. The Joy that I'm talking about exists as a foundational reality within us, and is not dependent on outer circumstance.
In this workshop we will explore ten different aspects of joy, ten facets that make up the prism of our rejoicing. Shining the light of awareness through each of these facets, we'll study both the obstacles that block that light, and the tools/practices that will help us to cultivate that clear access to the power of our rejoicing.
"The Exodus Process"
The exodus as a model for our Journey...
The Book of Exodus contains the secrets to our liberation. As we examine our personal journeys, we can use the map of Exodus to understand the stages we must move through on our spiritual paths.
Exodus takes us through these stages:
Awareness of enslavement Crossing the Sea, (taking the leap of Faith)
Wandering in the Wilderness, (entering upon the path of purification)
Receiving Revelation, (Opening ourselves to transformation)
Building the Mishkan, (Making our lives into a place where the Presence of God can dwell)
"The Ground of Emunah: Cultivating Basic Trust"
On the spiritual path, there comes a time when one must leap into a seeming abyss, into the unknown, where the structures of our constructed ego/personality dissolve in glimpse of the Great Mystery. What allows us to take that leap is the presence of the quality of basic trust or Emunah.
A.H. Almaas defines "Basic Trust" as " a non-conceptual confidence in the goodness of the universe, an unquestioned implicit trust that there is something about the universe and human nature and life that is inherently and fundementally good, loving and wishing us the best."
Without this quality, one cannot take that leap (into expanded reality), and will instead hold on for dear life to a rigid and constricted view of self and the world.
In this class we will explore the traditional wisdom concerning emunah, and trust-in-God, and then investigate the relative presence or absence of this quality in ourselves. Using the modalities, of chant, meditation, study, inner journeying and imagery, we will illuminate both the trust and the betrayal which is at our core, and set ourselves on the path of cultivating the basic trust which can be the springboard for our journey.
The path of Ecstacy involves practices that cultivate mind-states that allow for the shattering or dissolution of the fixed boundaries of self. The goal of the practice is a life lived with the continuous awareness of God's Presence. After entering through the doors that have been opened in the ecstatic state, we will explore four functions of consciousness that can be cultivated in the silence.
1. The ability to focus attention.
2. Korban- The art of letting go of content.
3. T'shuvah- the art of returning (to the intention to be in God's Presence).
4. Mesirat Nefesh- the surrendering of small self to that transforming Presence.
We will work (and play) at cultivating the qualities that are necessary in order to fulfill these four functions. Our exploration will utilize the modalities of silence, chant, movement, self- examination, study, prayer and imagery. The retreat will move from deep silence to conscious speech and the joyful celebration of Shabbat.
"Healing Through Chant"
"In acts of genuine expression, what goes on between the soul of man and the word of prayer is more than an act of employment, of using words as if they were tools. Here the soul and the word react upon each other: the word is a creative force." (Rabbi A.J. Heschel)
In my work with the practice of Chant, I have found that the word of prayer can also be a powerful healing force. Using elements of tone, pitch, melody, harmony, rhythm, breath patterns, visualization and the refinement of the intention, the sacred phrase can become the vehicle for both diagnosis and treatment. In this workshop, we will explore these elements, and working to generate and focus the healing power that is unleashed in the meeting of soul and word.
"Preparation for Pesach: The Purification of the Heart"
In preparation for the journey of Pesach, from slavery into freedom, we often get caught in the details of cleaning, Passover dishes, searching through our houses for Chametz, cooking, preparing for guests. What is often ignored is the process of inner preparation- the purification of the heart.
In this workshop, we will explore that process of inner preparation for the journey to Freedom. In a 13th century text, Obadya Maimonides compares the heart to a very old pool clogged with dirt and mire. Our spiritual practice consists of the purification, cleansing and purging of the heart, so that we may experience the Living Waters which connect us with our Source in God. Our access to those Living Waters will determine our readiness for the journey that the festival of Passover requires.
Using the modalities of text study, chant, meditation, imagery and inner journeying, we will explore the landscape of the heart and search for the hidden chametz -those soured places within us that can lead to the leavening or inflation of ego. In addition to Obadya's text, The Treatise of the Pool, we will draw on the Song of Songs as a map of the journey towards freedom.
"Building Spiritual Community"
The purpose of this seminar is to learn the spiritual practice of community. The Muslim mystic Mevlana Rumi says, "The company of others quickens our journey Home." We might add that it sometimes makes the journey seem more difficult. That is because when we become intimate with others, whatever we are hiding from God, or from ourselves, or from each other will be revealed. Every hidden wound will be made visible in order that it may be healed. Spiritual community quickens the process. Community also reveals our courage, strength and compassion. It calls forth the best in us.
Shefa will be teaching a method of dedicating ones energies in service to the spiritual group. In doing this, one must first become sensitive to the energy of the group and perceive what is needed for its wholeness and integrity so that the group can offer its light and power to the world. Then a repertoire of skills must be cultivated in order to respond to those needs.
Using the practice of chant, she will teach about eight specific functions of energy that are necessary in a spiritual group. We will practice each of these functions and find in ourselves the love and commitment to apply them.
From Rachmiel's years of experience as a Professional Counselor and Energy Body Practitioner, he will present:
-- How and why working or living together in spiritual community inevitably creates situations where conflict arises with one another -- even as your love for each other deepens -- and the tendency for the system to become rigid (hard) and dogmatic over time.
-- Creative, interactive, heart-based practices to face, feel, understand and heal the source of that conflict and rigidity, and experience a deeper level of spiritual kinship with one another.
-- The practice of Compassionate Listening and the Energy Discharge Process as a powerful model for healing emotional/psychological hurts.
-- Practical methods and practices to keep your own presence clear so that your highest intentions can be manifested.
Our time together will be a laboratory of community where we will learn to serve each other and serve the higherpurpose and potential of the group. We will explore to find just the right balance of work, play, celebration, self-examination, service and humor. Our time together will culminate in the joyous celebration of Shabbat, which is a time for opening to the miracle of our existence.
"The Power of Intention"
In this class, we’ll explore the Power of Intention through practices of chant, imagination, self-awareness and an examination of how thought influences the powers of presence, perception and creativity. We’ll unlock the treasures of Torah and liturgy, and learn how to use the sacred phrase to cultivate receptivity, generosity, compassion and courage as we walk the path of Service and Self-Realization. Along the way we’ll open up a dialogue with resistance, and develop strategies to evolve our spiritual practice.
These are just a few of the possible workshops I teach. Please contact me by email to learn more or to schedule a workshop or retreat: Shefa@RabbiShefaGold.com