Monday, September 16, 2013

Refuah Shelaimah: Chanting the World Back Together.

Tikkun olam. The Great Work. Healing the world. These words express the goal of many religions.  We broke it, now fix it.

A couple of months ago I started taking an 8-week online course called Crafting a Daily Practice. Each week we would add something to a morning practice of breathing, meditating, chanting, physical exercise, writing... to develop a regular habit of taking time to connect with body, soul and deity every day, and to work on knowing and integrating the parts of ourselves. I had tried this alone a year ago, using the book of the same name, but joining with others in this online class made a huge difference. So did having encouragement and guidance from our excellent teacher, Thorn Coyle.  I now have a solid, regular daily practice, and many broken places in my life have healed.

One of the things I tried that really stuck with me from the course was chanting. I had used this technique before, but not for a long time. I have acquired many spiritual tools over a lifetime, but I forget to use them! This time I tried out different chants and found pairs of Hebrew words seemed to work best for me. I found myself settling on two pairs of Hebrew words which I used interchangeably.

The first pair I tried was Eloha Neshama, a feminine variation pulled from the traditional Jewish morning prayer Elohai neshama... (God, the soul you have given me is pure.). I used the feminine because it represents me as a woman made in the image of God. The two words each have three syllables, and the accent in Hebrew is on the final syllable. They rock when you chat them. I rock when I chant them. I can really get into it. It would be even better with a little drumming to go with it,

The second chant I tried is Refuh shelaimah. Refuah means healing in Hebrew, and shelaimah comes from the same Hebrew root as shalom, meaning wholeness, peace, completion. The words together mean complete healing, or as I like to translate it, healing wholeness. I began to see great possibilities for this. I could call out names or situations as I chanted, with the intention of healing them. Refuah shelaimah, refuah shelaimah, refuah shelaimah, Syria. Refuah shelaimah, refuah shelaimah, refuah shelaimah, the world. The possibilities are many. Now, this is the chant I use most.

Chanting is very powerful, and it works. It doesn't matter what your faith or lack of it, it works. My theory is that it changes our own energy in some way that extends outward and brings larger changes. Whatever the reason, it works. There are some cautions in using it. It can turn into an earworm and get obsessive. You have to be disciplined about it. (For a good description of what can happen if you don't set limits, read J.D. Sallinger's Franny and Zooie.)

I am inviting you to join me in chanting to heal our broken world. Just two words, repeated, rhythmically: ref-oo-AH shah-lay-MAH. Make up a little tune to go with it. Rock with it. Let your soul dance with it. Let your body dance with it. Call out your intention for it at intervals -- I probably do it after six or seven repeats, but find your own rhythm: The world. The earth. A political crisis somewhere. Victims of violence. Climate change. Broken relationships. Someone you know that is ill or hurting, or maybe for all the people who have no one to chant for their healing. All the brokenness. Make your own list. Sing it out. Try doing it for about 10 minutes every morning.

Lets heal the world with chanting.

photo image: Google images

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