CBI’s meditation minyan: new start time, and clarification of focus

Dear all,

Many thanks to everyone who responded to our survey about our Friday morning meditation minyan. The survey results showed a clear preference for 9am as a start time, so starting this Friday, we will convene at 9am instead of 8:15. My apologies to those who had other preferences; I know that no time of day is perfect for everyone.

I am delighted to learn that in addition to our regular practices of following the breath and preparing ourselves spiritually for Shabbat, several people are interested in walking meditation (once we create the planned meditation labyrinth on the CBI grounds), in Jewish chant and mantra practices, and in practices for cultivating compassion.

The survey results also revealed an interesting difference of perspective about our meditation minyan. Some of our non-Jewish participants would like for the group to be broadened into an explicitly ecumenical meditation experience, with teachings rooted in a variety of faith-traditions and not just in Jewish thought and practice. Others (both Jews and non-Jews) seem happy with the kind of Jewishly-oriented teachings which I’ve been offering, and which Rabbi Jeff offered in previous years.

I love the fact that our meditation sessions are attended by people of many faiths, and I am committed to principles of post-triumphalism (no faith is “the only right way”) and deep ecumenism (we can and should learn from one another’s faith-traditions and practices.) And, it’s important to me as the only rabbi in north county to ensure that programming is offered which can help members of the local Jewish community prepare for Shabbat and festivals in a heart-centered way.

After conversations with a few different people here at CBI, I’ve come to the conclusion that the teachings I offer at our meditation minyan should continue to be rooted in Jewish thought and practice. The meditation minyan is a service which I offer to our community, and it’s important that I offer it even if only a few people are taking advantage of it.

We continue to welcome friends of all faiths to join us in our meditation minyan if our practices and teachings hold meaning for you or if sitting in silence in our sanctuary appeals to you.

And if there is community interest in an explicitly interfaith / ecumenical meditation group in addition to the 9am Jewishly-oriented meditation minyan, I’m certainly open to CBI hosting such a group in our sanctuary. If someone would like to take that idea and run with it, let me know and I’ll do what I can to facilitate its happening at CBI.

The other piece of feedback I’ve received is that it’s frustrating that sometimes life circumstances obligate me to cancel our meditation minyan for a week or for a few weeks at a time. I hear your frustration and I honor it. One of the challenges of serving this community as a half-time rabbi is I sometimes have to shift my work days in a way which precludes my presence here on Friday mornings. I know that that is not ideal.

I can offer a new policy which I hope will be a small help in those circumstances. Our office administrator Jack Hockridge arrives at CBI every morning at 10am. On Fridays when I am not able to be at CBI, meditators are welcome to convene at 10am instead of 9am. Jack can open the building, and you are welcome to meditate in our sanctuary together without me. If there is a week when you intend to take advantage of this, please let Jack know in advance by emailing office at cbiweb dot org.

(The exceptions to this will be, of course, when major Jewish holidays fall on Friday mornings and our sanctuary is otherwise occupied. Friday September 26, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, will be one such day.)

Thank you all for your input and for being part of our community.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

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