6.45pm, Thursday Sept 12th 2013. An email tells me that my plane has been delayed by 2 hours so I go to a meditation class in Santa Monica. The theme is forgiveness, forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. Tomorrow night I am due in Phoenix to lead Yom Kippur services for a community. The 45-minute meditation puts me in a good state to channel my inner Neil Diamond.
9.15pm, Sept 12th. I am pulling up at the LAX airport terminal with my valet driver in the passenger seat before he drives off to park my car. We experience a massive thud; a shuttle bus has slammed into the back of my motor. A police car is situated within 10 feet away. Nobody is injured, thank G-d, although back end of my car ain’t looking pretty. It’s going to need a multi-$000 facelift. Or butt-lift, more accurately.
The shuttle bus driver apologised profusely, explaining he had looked away for a moment. I asked him to repeat his words and recorded his voice on my phone. The police expressed surprise that I wasn’t claiming injury or faking neck pain, “because that’s what everybody else does around here”. I explained that tomorrow is the Day of Atonement – it would be bad karma, and besides, I am grateful for the miracle of life, that my body is healthy.
May this be the worst thing that happens. May we be signed and sealed for a powerful year. May we be blessed with health, wealth and happiness.
Yom Kippur involves a 25-hour fast but it is not enough just to not eat; we can go deeper. One question to hold is; what are you hungry for in your life? What do you want to achieve in the coming 12 months? What are you thirsty to achieve? What is the mark that you want to leave on this planet…and why indeed are you here?
Live and let diet
During a reconnaissance trip to Los Angeles several years ago I met someone who introduced herself as a live-a-tician. “People usually call us dieticians’, she explained, “but I want people to live, so I am a live-a-tician”. As you can probably imagine, I greeted this with a healthy barrier of English cynicism towards perceived West Coast nutritional nuttiness.
Five years later I suspect the Live-a-tician was right. I eat mostly dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, organic where possible and avoiding food combining. My body runs more efficiently when I cut out certain foods. One thing however has remained constant; the idea of keeping to a diet is never a strong motivation in itself.
During a recent festive meal, the dinner conversation turned towards the topic of the spiritual practice of avoiding negative or slanderous speech (‘Lashon Hara’). Whilst this may be worthy and righteous, it holds as much excitement for me as counting calories on the latest diet fad and reading a long list of forbidden foods. Although I am totally in favour of the principles and standards of ethical speech, the topic of “don’t do’s” is nearly as appetising as a chunk of raw tofu.
“This is all very well”, I said to my hosts, “but surely our focus should be on what you are saying, rather than what you aren’t saying?”. In other words, what are you using your words to create?
Moses’ final words are a song; “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth! My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass” (Deuteronomy 32:1-2). He speaks of what has been achieved, what is possible and where the people have fallen short. There is no soft-footing or pulling-of-punches, but words that are honest, direct, motivating and inspiring.
We can focus on the foods we don’t eat or the words we aren’t speaking, or we can take a different focus. What are you using words for? What is the song of your soul that you have to share with others? When each of us sing from our innermost depths, sharing our Divine-given talents and the positive ideas that are unique to us, we create a human symphony that can change the world. Sing out, sing strong, sing in harmony and make those words count.
This weekend, hit the spiritual personal-motivation accelerator and crash into your own life. Discover what is truly important to you. Discover what you are hungry for, what you are standing for in life.
HOW TO USE THIS IN THE BOARDROOM: Where have you been avoiding speaking out during the last 12 months? What could you create with words?
HOW TO USE THIS ON THE MEDITATION CUSHION: What is the song of your soul? What is the message that you would like to share with the world? What were you put on this planet to share?
HOW TO USE THIS ON THE YOGA MAT: There are yogic practices of fasting, of restricting intake to the physical body so that we can experience spiritual energy. This weekend, experiment with a new realm of possibility.