Counting the Omer: Four Myths about Jewish Meditation


Thank you to our congregant, Elise Luce Kraemer, who helps to lead our regular Friday evening Shabbat-prep meditation, for this below article about helpful hints that make Jewish meditation more accessible for us all!

  1. I tried meditation once, but I couldn’t stop thinking, therefore I am “bad” at meditating.

Typically, meditation involves focusing on breath, a sound, or a prayer with the intention to quiet the mind.  However, everyone who has a working mind experiences thoughts while meditating.  The goal of meditation is not to get rid of you mind, but instead to cultivate mindfulness.  That is, to become aware of your thoughts and emotions, acknowledge them without judgment, and gently return to your practice, e.g. your breath.  Even very experienced meditators often experience “monkey mind” (where your mind is all over the place, jumping from thought to thought) when they meditate – it is simply human nature.

  1. I am so busy already – I do not have time to meditate.

You do not need to dedicate tons of time to meditation for it to be helpful.  Even 5-10 minutes a day can make a significant difference in your health and sense of well-being.  Meditating with a group can be a great way to get started (see below opportunities for group meditation at Rodeph Shalom.)

3.            I am not flexible and can’t sit in difficult yoga pose for twenty minutes, therefore meditation is not for me.

Meditation can be done in any seated position, standing up, lying down, or even while walking.  At Rodeph Shalom, most participants meditate sitting in a regular chair, but are welcome to find any comfortable position.

4.            Meditation is not Jewish.

Mediation has been an integral part of Jewish practice since ancient times and is enjoying a renewed interest in recent years, with an increasing number of Rabbis who incorporate meditation in services and programs both in Rabbinical Schools and with Congregations across the United States.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom chamishah v’arba-im yom, shehem shivah shavuot ushloshah yamim la-omer.

Today is 45 days which is 6 weeks and 3 days of the Omer.