Friday, September 7, 2007

Step One: Listening

Step One: Listening Listening to the text of my life has become very important. As I listen I have been learning how to trust myself while encouraging a deeper relationship with myself. I am practicing learning how to love me. Only my G!D loves me so unconditionally and even that is still hard to believe. No one else will hear what is in my head unless I speak it out loud. The Society of the Vav is what I heard, savored and had fun with all in my head and in my journal. Now I want to share and help her grow. I do not want to be the only one to nurture her.

When I first spoke her name out loud in Israel at a Shabbat dinner where I was a guest of my teacher, Sarah Schneider, and her other students I was surprised at the excited response. I did not know what to do with their response. The women are smart, educated, energetic what was it about this phrase that excited them? They wanted to know more. As do I.

So I have put down some of my musings to share. I do this with great excitement and trepidation. I am open to all the possibilities. One thing I am sure the society may be a collection of those who believe in listening.

Draft September 7, 2007

The Society of the Vav:
Connecting Heaven and Earth-
Living One Life

Leadership and Meditation go together like hand and glove. I am a coach of middle and upper managers. I listen to the text of peoples lives and try to help them make the world a better place for them and others. I am a rabbi, trained in reading the Torah and never settling for the superficial; believing in the intuitiveness of the Hebrew language and often thinking through, going deeper what appears on the surface. I love the Hebrew letters and find them a source of great wisdom, as do many others so I have lots of books to read.

Meditation saved my life; I learned to be able to live with myself with less verbal self mutilation. Meditation and mindfulness practice has allowed me the opportunity to broaden my perspective on my life and the world and to be kinder to others as well as myself. I believe everyone is a leader and has the responsibility of learning how to be their own teacher so that we can learn to trust ourself, trust the process and to treasure ourself. I think meditation and mindfulness practice supports that path as well as others.

Teshuvah is the practice of returning and of doing repentance. This free will moment is coming back to Here that refers to the act of one does within a meditative moment.
'We do not know how we are to serve YHWK until we come there' Exodus 10:26; ‘Where are you?’ God asks Adam. Genesis, 3:9; and ‘And G-d was in this place and I, I did not know,’ Jacob. Genesis, 28:16 are three pieces of text that can be used as intentions for mindfulness.

The idea of using the Vav when talking about leadership evolved from several sources:
  • having an i-pod and digital recorder,
  • noticing my aversive visceral response to hearing the word ‘but’
  • and knowing that life is continuous and dynamic, always changing
  • the letter Vav placed at the beginning of a word means 'and'.
Why the i-pod and digital recorder? I noticed that neither of these new high tech for the masses instrument had an ‘on-off’ button only a hold button. I knew there was something beyond the superficial reason for this so I allowed the mind the contemplate this. What I decided that we only pause life never really stop it. So why lie?

When ever I hear the word but my body reacts in a uncomfortable visceral way. The word ‘but’ negates anything that comes before it. I was taught by one of my teachers never to throw out anything, every moment or every piece of data is important. So if everything matters then we have to deal with everything. Then my mind wandered to using the word ‘and’. I also noticed that when others or I use the word but we often are saying something negative and use the word to indicate a feeling of being lost, creating a stop sign to an idea or just giving up. I am often full of hope and usually looking for how to do something especially if it is an idea that rings true to me. So when I hear ‘what do you mean we cannot do that’ then I need to pause. I am trying not to throw out any part of my life or piece of information when moving into problem solving.

The letter Vav in the Hebrew language is a ‘connector’ letter. It is the when put before a noun the translation is usually ‘and.’ When put in front of a very in Biblical Hebrew it indicates a change in tense of the verb, from past to present or future to past.

Life is continuous and dynamic and life is all about transitions, moving from one role or stage to another. In Exodus Moshe asks the Divine what do I call you and the reply translates as 'I am what I am' and 'I will be what I will be'. Consistency and emotional safety are very important for a mind that thinks linearly. If you say you are going to do something then I expect you to do it. How can I learn to trust someone to be honest, can I be honest with myself or you? My daughter Ilana once asked me to make all clocks in my home and car at the same time so that I would not lie. I had never thought of it like and changed all my clocks to reflect the correct time.

Circumcising the heart: when most middle and upper managers are asked how do they protect their heart a few will say why would you want to do that. The majority would describe how they protect their heart with distancing, placing it in a box, creating a wall around it. the heart lays in the middle of the body and is called the energy center for equanimity and beauty.
It is an important organ to teach us how to hold everything even the things we do not want to know.

Spiritual Practice: We do not live alone in the world. Friedman reminds us that the world is flat. Quantum physics informs us that our purpose in working in one place may have an effect in some entirely remote place on the earth. It is essential that we begin to think that our work has a bigger purpose and we only think we know why we are here. Being able to bring to the consciousness the fact hat we need each other and we are all connected is what the popular culture and faith based writings are stressing. If we listen to everything life is a process as Senge and et al write about in Presence.

We are all leaders and we are all a kingdom of priests. We are responsible to the earth as well as the sky, what we can see and what we cannot and everything in between, emotions and thoughts.

The letter Vav, the sixth letter in the Hebrew AlephBet, the third letter of the Hebrew name for God also represents in the Kabalah the six Sifirot that encompasses the body: Chesed, Gevurot, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod and Sod. It the letter that represent interconnection and Unification and is the symbol of completion, redemption and transformation.

In working with energy for healing the practitioner will focus on the area above and below the affected area. The area above the body is the neck and the Sifirot Da'at with the focus on communication and paradox.

Paradox has been used to describe the quiet leader and the leader who can co-create in an environment that raises the productivity of all to their highest good. In Judaism we live with lots of paradoxes; believing in a G!D that has no physical form, reading phrases in the Torah such as ‘walking into the sea on dry land’ or ‘seeing the sound’. To think non-linearly onemust be able to hold all the information and not throw one piece of data out. The ‘and’ or in Hebrew the letter Vav helps to speak the language of paradox.

Leadership Characteristics* with Places to Focus for a
Meditation Practice

Pious ~…take your shoes off your feet, the place where you are standing is holy; Exodus, 3:5
Tenacity ~ It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it." –
Pirke Avot, 2:26

Humility~…and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Exodus, 19:6

Consistency ~The entire purpose of our existence is to overcome our hurtful habits." - Vilna Gaon, Commentary to Mishlei 4:13

Compassion ~…circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiff necked. Deuteronomy 10:16
and God will circumcise your heart... Deuteronomy 30:6

Service to Others ~ Eved HaShem and …you shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him ... nor do him wrong. The stranger who lives as a foreigner with you shall be to you as the native-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself. Leviticus 19:34

*Sanctuary to Boardroom: A Jewish Approach to Leadership, Hal. M. Lewis
Mindful Jewish Living, J. Slater
Meditation and the Bible and Jewish Meditation, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Society of the Vav: The sixth Hebrew letter as metaphor and paradox.
Coming to Our Senses: Healing ourselves and the world through mindfulness. Jon Kabot-Zinn

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