Category Archives: Practices with Jewish Roots

Exercise 25: Pardes

Background: There are many approaches to reading scripture.  Some of these arise within a specific tradition.  It can be interesting to explore these practices’ interelations.  For example, the Jewish practice of Pardes has interesting paralells to Christian Lection Divina.

Before beginning this exercise, you will want to have preselected a text.  Most often, this would be a work of holy scripture.  In my experience, a passage between 1 paragraph and 2 pages works best.

Spiritual Exercise

  1.  Breathe.  Release your obligations and responsibilities for the time being.
  2.  Read the passage once through.  On this reading, in your mind, explore the literal meaning of the words you read.
  3. Breathe slowly in through the nose and out the mouth.
  4. Reread the passage.  Explore the allegorical, symbolic meaning of the words in the passage.
  5. Breathe slowly in through the nose and out the mouth.
  6. Read the passage again.  This time, look for a precedent.  Consider the occurrences that this reminds you of.  These related events might be other passages in the same text; it might be other things you have read.  It might be reminders from other aspects of your life.
  7. Look for a hidden and new meaning to the text.  This might be a result of considering the 3 levels of meaning at the same time.  It might result from God’s action in your heart as you attempt to go deeper.
  8. Spend some time with God, thanking God for this new understanding.

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Exercise #2: Breathing with God

Background:  It is written that God breathed into the earth and made the first human.  This, perhaps, was how the image of God got into man in the first place: through that breath.

If we believe that God continues to be active in the world today, we might come to view that original act of creation as an ongoing event, not a one-time thing.  More to the point: perhaps God breathes into us still.

The Exercise

1.  Create a safe and quiet space for yourself.  Sit up as straight as you comfortably can.  Place your feet flat on the floor.

2.  Release your worries and responsibilities for the duration of your practice.  Don’t worry, they will still be there, waiting for you, when you are done.

3.  With your next inhale, experience this as God’s breath.  Your inhale is God breathing in to you.

4.  With your next exhale, experience this as a breathing in to God.  Your exhale is God’s inhale.

5.  Continue your practice in this manner.  Breathe with God.

6.  As your time nears its end, release this imagery of your breathing.  Enjoy a time of silent communion.

As you go about your day, pay attention to your breath.  Recognize that God breathes with you.

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You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
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Exercise #1: God’s Name

Patrons can access an audio file of this practice.  Click the link at the bottom of this page to find out more!

Background: There is a long history, in the Jewish Tradition, around the saying of God’s name.  It might have begun with Moses, being told by a burning bush that the name of God was a word which we often render into English as Yahweh.

In the centuries that followed, there was often resistance to saying God’s name.   Christianity inherited that tradition in the use of the word “LORD” for God: all in small capital letters.

Some Rabbi’s teach that the letters we translate ‘Yahweh’ were in fact meant to imitate the act of breathing.  On this understanding, we can not say God’s name in the way we say any other name.  In a sense, God’s name is un-sayable.   But at the same time, through the act of breathing, saying God’s name is the very first thing we do, when we come into the world.  Saying God’s name will be the very last thing we do when we leave it.  We will say God’s name repeatedly, frantically, in those times we are lost or excited.  And even when we think we don’t know who God is, in our darkest moments, we say God’s name hundreds of times a day!

I hope how wonderful that possibility is justifies such a long background for such a simple exercise!

The Exercise:

1.  Create a space of quiet and safety for yourself by turning off your phone, making the temperature comfortable.  Consider getting yourself a glass of water and turning soft, wordless music on.

2.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  Inhale, slowly through your nose.  Exhale, slowly, through your mouth.

3.  Place your hand on your abdomen.  Feel your belly rise and fall as you continue with your breaths.

4.  Spend as long as you wish simply enjoying the act of calmly breathing.

5.  When you are ready, see that the exhale is similar to the first syllable of the translation of God’s name “Yah.”

6.  See the inhale as a related to the second syllable, “Weh.” 

7.  Continue to breathe, seeing each breath as a pronouncement of God’s name, a name more intimate than any sounds can be.

8.  When you are ready, release your conscious thoughts about saying God’s name.  Enjoy a time of union.

Throughout your day today, return to your breath.  Seeing each breath as a calling out to the creator of the universe.

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You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project continue to deliver this conetent to a world in need: become a Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.