Workshop 7: The Rebbe’s Request: Therapeutic Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
The Rebbe’s Request: Therapeutic Meditation and Relaxation Techniques Following the Guidelines of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
In private communications as well as public addresses, The Lubavitcher Rebbe discussed an array of holistic health issues and at times recommended very specific therapies or techniques. The Rebbe predated many current, cutting-edge trends. Even more prophetically, in 1978-1979, the Lubavitcher Rebbe contacted health and mental health professionals and publicly requested (13 Tammuz, 5739) the development of a value-free format of meditation that avoids all elements related to avodah zara (idolatry elements). Speaking about the therapeutic benefits of Transcendental Meditation – TM, (a Hindu-based meditative technique, containing actual idolatrous elements) the Rebbe urged professionals to develop and disseminate a “pareve,” therapeutic meditation similar to it, but without the Hindu-based element. The technique should “calm the nerves” (baru’iken die nerven) and bring “peace of mind.” At the time of this appeal, minimal research was done, but meditation had promise toward these ends. Today, various formats of meditation are ubiquitous.
In fact, mindfulness or focal point meditation has become one of the most successful techniques used in therapeutic circles (consider DBT, MBCT, MBSR, etc.). Additionally, there is significant research demonstrating the beneficial neuroplastic effect meditation has on the prefrontal cortex of the brain. However, despite their scientific benefit, most of the available methods contain some avizrayhu d’avodah zara (more subtle Eastern religious elements). Had the Rebbe’s request of 40 years ago been heeded sooner, meditation in manners prohibited by Torah law could have been avoided by thousands of people, and more could have been healed by the curative properties, meditation has that only now we are aware of. With the distractions from digital technology, anyone who uses electronic devices can benefit from learning these techniques and applying them to one’s daily life. The Rebbe was truly prophetic when in the 70’s he pleaded for therapeutic meditation stating, it was “like medication” and “it will save countless lives.”
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
In this workshop, participants will:
- Learn what makes such techniques halachically problematic or permissible
- Experience actual techniques to calm their body and mind – “Tzu baru’iken di nerven”
- Receive handouts, audio recordings and materials to use on their own
- Learn about the effects of Stress Response vs. the Relaxation Response
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