Shabbat Shal-OMMMMM

SHALOmShhhhh … mmmmm … ahhhh … Shhhh …mmmm …aaaahhhhhhhhh … that’s right … inhale deep and exhale: Sh. Mm. Ah.

This little meditation techinique is a combination of yoga breath and the Number One Jewish prayer, the Sh’Ma Yisrael, and I’ve been practicing it a lot this week. As a freshly unemployed, slightly neurotic, extremely lazy workaholic, I’ve had some challenges keeping my brain from acting like a gerbil with rabies that’s jacked up on Red Bull and Pop Rocks. I’ve found just breathing this word helps tame the gerbil back into docility for a few minutes at a time (it’s also quite effective with my Shalom School kindergarteners when things get a bissel wacky in the classroom.)

In synagogue, we recite the Sh’ma in booming voices: “Hear, O’ Israel: The Lord is your God, The Lord is One!” But it wasn’t until I met the Jewbus of Northern California did I appreciate that this prayer might be imploring us to listen — to quiet the mind and create a silent space for some clear, quiet wisdom, should any be broadcasting. (It usually is.)

It was a delightful coincidence to come across this painting by artist Karla Gudeon titled “Shal-OM” — I’ve just saved it as my wallpaper to be even better reminded that the remedy for almost everything is a simple breath. Please check out Gudeon’s amazing gallery of colorful prints that are somehow whimsical and profoundly spiritual at the same time.

So peace out to you and yours as we head into this rainy Shabbat evening. May we all remember cherish those around us— and to listen closely.

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