I invite you to reflect on this question; how far have you travellied in the last year? This could be in geographical distance, personal growth, literal or metaphorical.
The Children of Israel have 42 stops on their journey from Egypt to the promised land and each of the 42 stops is listed meticulously, as if to remind them of God’s mercy along the way because they weren’t abandoned (Rashi). Throughout the 42 stops they were resisting moving but kept moving forwards nonetheless. The Baal Shem Tov says that we experience 42 internal journeys through our life as we move from slavery to freedom.
Continually travelling isn’t easy. It’s not always about getting from A to B. Speaking personally, and by a bizarre coincidence, I’ve stayed in exactly 42 different places since moving out of my home last October. There’s something unsettling about a life in transit on the long journey to a new home, whether you are headed to a land of Milk and Honey or to a City of Angels. Right now I’m writing from the former and will soon be in the latter.
There is a certain yogic journey that I don’t understand. The Bhagavad Gita and other yogic texts tells of a phase in life where someone becomes a ‘sanyasin’. Old men renounce earthly desires and leave their families to become a travelling yogi and seek enlightenment, going from town to town, free from the shackles of daily life. This isn’t the Jewish way; it’s enough of a journey to find this inner peace at home. Or maybe that’s why they leave in the first place. Who knows?
The yogic journey that makes sense is the daily visit to the yoga mat. And the practice of daily prayer (tefilla). Visiting a yoga class or place of workshop once in a while is fine, but if you try it for 42 days in a row, or even 10 days for that matter, you’ll notice real progress. I’ve experienced immense journeys without ever leaving home.
Life has a habit of taking us through unexpected stops along the way and we can either face them with resistance, screaming that we’re not getting what we want, or we can journey within and discover a place of trust, stillness and oneness with God. Rav Nachman of Bratslav recommended daily Hitbodedut meditation, where we walk in nature and talk with God in a free-form one-to-one prayer. As we journey within, we journey home, and realise that we are closer to our destination than ever before.
To receive your free weekly Kosher Sutra, sign up at www.bibliyoga.com
THE KOSHER SUTRAS © MARCUS J FREED/BIBLIYOGA 2010/5770
Marcus J Freed is the creator of Bibliyoga, USA & North America Director of Yoga Mosaic – the association for Jewish yoga teachers, and yogi-in-residence for JConnectLA and Jewlicious Festivals.
i. Begin on all fours and bring your right ankle so that it is behind your left wrist. Then push your right knee against your right wrist.
ii. Straighten your left leg behind you and slowly bring your right hip towards the ground.
iii. Stretch your hands out in front of you and bring your chest to the ground in front, being sensitive to your knee – which shouldn’t feel any pain at all. This is about opening the hips.
Variation: Place a cushion below your bent knee to soften the posture and reduce the stretch.
Benefits: Opens the hip flexors, lengthens the groins and hamstrings, improves flexibility in the back and opens the chest.