Category Archives: Hishtavut

The Gift of a Red Light

How many of us when we come to a red light while driving in our cars get annoyed at having to stop?  I for one have been among that group for many years, and have just begun to realize why.

With the help of a friend I recently came to notice that I get visibly annoyed when I come to a red light while driving my car.  I have this burning desire while driving to not have to stop, and when I am forced to… it pisses me off.  This friend helped me see that instead of getting mad, I can use this moment as a time to connect with G!d and bless all the people around me.  For some reason, in that moment her words got through and literally my vision of the outside world changed, my soul became awakened, and became the driver of my body-vehicle which was driving this car-vehicle.  In that moment my vision expanded, became much wider, and I was able to truly send love and blessings to all the people around me.  After that I was actually looking forward to the next red light and gave so much thanks when it came because it brought, again, the ability to stop and connect with G!d and send love and blessings to all the people around me.

This deep teaching showed me how our “triggers” – the things that get us annoyed, or cause us to “react” in any way – can most powerfully serve as our greatest tools for awakening and self transformation… And the bigger the trigger, the bigger the transformation.

But this also brought about another understanding… That actually  it’s this society and culture based on productivity, on moving forward, and not on stopping which causes the annoyance at having to stop.  Our whole psyche is imbued with the imperative, the directive, to continue moving forward, and it’s not just coming from our culture, it’s a deeply programmed biological and evolutionary response of nature.  The nature of evolution is to move forward, to progress, and this has been strongly – and most of the time unconsciously – embraced by our culture and society… In so much that there is actually a physical aversion to stopping.

But stopping is exactly what is needed to tap into the spiritual dimension of life, to feel the beauty and amazement of existence… Stop and smell the roses.  Stopping is also the essence of meditation.  when we stop we have a chance to remember what we are and where we came from, and to live and act from there, instead of from the biologically mechanical imperatives we are driven by throughout our fast paced, “non-stop” day.

This also happens to be the essence of most – or even all –  the Jewish practices, mitzvot/halachot, they are systematically set up as times to stop and remember Source, to remember our selves, our divine nature.

So, next time you’re stopped at a red light, or waiting in a line at the post office, or suddenly get triggered by something, see if you can use it as a chance to stop and remember G!d, to remember that you are a beautiful divine soul, surrounded by love and other beautiful divine souls.  It’s a hell of a good practice : )

Hishtavut – Albotini

“An important prerequisite for attaining the meditative experience is stoicism (hishtavut),
and this is discussed at great length by [Rabbi Yehuda] Albotini. The has been discussed by a number of
later kabbalists, but Abulafia only speaks about it in passing, writing, “One who has
attained true passion (cheshek), is not influenced by the blessings or curses of others. It
is as if they were speaking in a language that he does not understand.”’  -Meditation and Kabbalah, Aryeh Kaplan