The Breath of Life



I’m going to invite you for this practice to lie on the floor, if that’s okay for you. Just find a place where you can lie for a few minutes, and before you get settled on the floor, find a big heavy book, they used to have heavy telephone books but they don’t give those out anymore.

So, a heavy book, a dictionary or something like that, and see if you can put that on your belly, when you lie down. Feet on the floor, knees up, and the book on your belly.

We’re going to breathe with the book on our belly. Deep belly breaths. 

Take a moment, get yourself settled. Feel how the floor is supporting you. If you can’t find a heavy book, take two books. Something that is weighty on your belly, but not over weighty. 

We’re just going to breathe, and I’m going to count for you on the inhale and exhale. So we’ll just start with the first breath, breathing in: one, two three. Out: one, two, three. And just feel, as you do that, the book, the belly rising and falling.

So breathing in: one, two three, out: one, two, three.

One more, we’re going to expand to one, two, three, four. Out: one, two, three, four.

In: one, two, three, four, five. Out: one, two, three, four, five. Nice belly breaths, belly rising: one, two, three, four, five. Now just hold. Then: one, two, three, four, five.

One more time with the book: one, two, three, four, five. Hold: one, two, three, four. Exhale: one, two, three, four, five.

Just pause for a moment, you can let the book off your belly, put it on the side. 

We’re just gonna take, just watch the belly rising and falling, notice your breath coming in and expanding the belly and out as the belly releases. And we’ll just do two closing breaths.

One, two, three, four, hold. One, two, three, exhale. One, two, three, four. Close with: one, two, three, hold. One, two, three, exhale, one, two, three.

And just be aware of yourself being filled and emptied. Focusing awareness just on the sensations of the body, in the belly. Connecting to that breath of life. 

Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg, Spiritual Coach, served as a congregational rabbi for seventeen years.  She has also worked in the fields of Jewish community relations, Jewish education and Hillel. She has published widely on such topics as feminism, spiritual direction, parenting, social justice and mindfulness from a Jewish perspective, including in her books God Loves the Stranger: Stories Poems and Prayers and Surprisingly Happy: An Atypical Religious Memoir, and has contributed commentaries to Kol HaNeshama, the Reconstructionist prayer book. Rabbi Weinberg has taught mindfulness meditation and yoga to rabbis, Jewish professionals and lay people in the context of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. She serves as a spiritual director to a variety of Jewish clergy including students and faculty at HUC-JIR in New York.  She is creator and co-leader of the Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Program. She is married to Maynard Seider and they have three married children and six grandchildren.  


Thank you to Rise Up, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah for their generous support of Reset.

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