A Guided Meditation for Emotional Healing during the High Holidays

Gates of Repentance

A (Self) Guided Meditation

One of the central images of the High Holidays is that of Heavenly Gates open to our prayers.

Gates can open to the outside and new possibilities. Gates can close us off from what is within.

Repentance can cleanse us spiritually or make us feel guilty. It is an answer to the difficult questions about ourselves and our lives that we have been avoiding.

This meditation is not necessarily relaxing, but it can bring a feeling of catharsis, wholeness, and spiritual cleansing. This is not meant to be done in one sitting. Pick a section to work on, preferably in the given order, but you can decide for yourself. Spend no more than fifteen minutes at a time in the beginning. Allow yourself another fifteen minutes to gather yourself together. This is very emotional.

  1. Sit comfortably.

  2. Breathe normally. Do not do anything special. Just be aware of your breathing. You will naturally fall into the right rhythm.

  3. Visualize a gate. What does it look like? Is it inviting? Is it threatening? Why do you think this is the image that came to you? Think of a gate in which you can meet anyone past, present, or future, a gate in which you can meet yourself as a child or as an adult, the person you thought you would be, the person you wished you would be, and the person that you are. Where is God in this gate?

    1. Visualize all the people with whom you have had a relationship that brings you joy. What do you want to say to them? Say it in your mind if you are with others and do not feel comfortable. Say it out loud if you are alone. Remember all the wonderful things they did for you. Why did they do it? Did you feel worthy of their love? Why or why not

    2. Visualize the people with whom you have a challenging relationship, and are still alive. There may be some overlap with the first group.What do you want to say to them? Is there a fault? What do you think happened in the lives of these people that made them so difficult? Can you feel any empathy or understanding? What is your share in the difficulty? Speak to them in your mind. No one else will hear. Can you share any of this with these people? Why or why not? What would forgiveness look like, of each other, or just one to the other? If forgiveness is not possible, what would letting go look like? Can you get on with your life if no forgiveness is possible?

    3. Do the same as above, but with those who are no longer living, or capable of response. This is a lot harder emotionally, but the conversation may provide healing. People’s spirits are eternal. I am not suggesting that the person’s spirit is necessarily listening, but somehow people’s presences can be felt in times of extreme emotion. This is a matter of personal belief.

    4. Visualize yourself as a child. What would you like to have told them? It is too late to follow that advice? Whose life did you wind up living? What turned out as expected? What did not, but was worse or better than you thought. What do you want to say to the you of the future? Which you do you want to see walking through the gate at the end of your journey. How are you going to get to that point?

    5. Where is God in your life? Share all the anger and sorrow and joy and appreciation.

Do this exercise at least once a week. Sometimes it will feel comfortable. Sometimes it will be very uncomfortable. Stick with it for several weeks. You will develop insights that will allow you to start healing.

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