Balance and integrate the components of your inner life in order to become more present, joyful and effective.
“At our best, we may experience a taste of completeness infused with gratitude that prompts expressions of compassion and justice. At our best we are most alive: loving those around us and transcending our own personal needs, attuned to a caring, dynamic Presence intertwined with the whole of creation. The goal of this book is to enable you to live more frequently at your best.”
—from the Introduction
In a multitasking culture, we often are distracted from attending to what is most significant in our lives. Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz, a widely respected teacher and spiritual guide, shows how to nurture the four components of the inner life—body, heart, mind and spirit—in order to embrace your whole self. Rabbi Spitz brings timeless wisdom into the modern age, combining Jewish texts and traditions with contemporary psychology and world spiritual writings.
This book is for everyone—Jews and non-Jews, experienced meditators and novices—yearning for greater inner calm and strength so as to more fully enjoy life, effectively relate to others and enhance spiritual awareness and connection.
Interactive—includes immersive videos that can be accessed instantly by the provided QR codes or links.
“A thoroughly contemporary guide to Jewish spiritual practice, drawing on Jewish sources as well as a wide range of teachings from many traditions. An easy and plain-spoken guide to techniques of visualization and guided meditation.”
—Arthur Green, author, Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers
“This inspiring work is a spiritual journey with wisdom and guidance to lead us toward a life of peace and wholeness.... A book to read and re-read, a book you will want to share with those you love.”
—Rabbi Naomi Levy, founder and spiritual leader, Nashuva; author, Hope Will Find You
“Wise and practical.... An eloquent reminder that it’s not enough to talk about the truth: we must live it, day by day.... In these pages you will find the resources, both ancient and contemporary, that help us to live truth and choose love.”
—Rabbi Shefa Gold, author, The Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love
“There is no better guide than Rabbi Elie Spitz, with his sweet soul, practiced spiritual depth, and soaring mind. He has distilled his soul into this marvelous book, taking our hand and leading us to increasing wholeness.”
—Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, DHL, author, God of Becoming and Relationship: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology
“Wonderful.... Sure to touch the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life and empower them to live their lives more fully and meaningfully.”
—Rabbi Yoel Glick, author, Living the Life of Jewish Meditation: A Comprehensive Guide to Practice and Experience
“An inspired, intelligent book that will teach you how to have a meaningful meditation practice. The YouTube meditations are a special bonus for beginners.”
—Nan Fink Gefen, PhD, author, Discovering Jewish Meditation: Instruction & Guidance for Learning an Ancient Spiritual Practice
“I can tell immediately when I’m in the presence of a great teacher, one who offers wisdom with nuance and maturity rather than clichés and truisms. Elie Spitz is my teacher. Becoming whole requires a whole practice—not prayer or reflection or mindfulness or study or intuition or movement, but all of them in balance. Elie Spitz seamlessly integrates a lifetime of spiritual seeking and wisdom into this remarkable guide for wholly living.”
—Rabbi Mike Comins, author, Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer Is Difficult and What to Do about It
“Offers wisdom and guidance for absolutely everyone.”
—Edith R. Brotman, PhD, RYT-500, author, Mussar Yoga: Blending an Ancient Jewish Spiritual Practice with Yoga to Transform Body and Soul
“An excellent manual of spiritual practice.... Unmistakably Jewish, mature, reasonable and inspiring.”
—Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Emanu-El scholar, Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco; author, I’m God; You’re Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego
Download a printable version
Chapter One: Seeking Greater Wholeness
- When have you felt most at ease? What prevents you from increasing that kind of experience?
- What obstacle to inner peace did you identify? What was your insight into how to address that obstacle?
- What was your experience of the relationship between breath and holding on to negativity?
Chapter Two: Body—Our Portal to the World
- When you compared two leaves from the same tree, what surprised you? How does this kind of awareness inform your appreciation for the uniqueness of human faces?
- What was your experience when you chanted shalom? In what ways did the word link you to wholeness?
- What surprised you when you employed the blessing practice?
Chapter Three: Heart—Fueling Engagement
- What surprised you when you “corresponded” with God? How did this exercise change or expand your understanding of the nature of prayer?
- When you recited the modeh ani prayer after awaking, what were your first thoughts on gratitude? How did beginning your day with gratitude affect your attitude during the day?
- In your quick bibliodrama, who were you? What was the problem you sought to address? What insight did you gain into your own life?
Chapter Four: Mind—Alertness to Reality
- Share a moment when you felt close to God. What does this holy moment convey about the nature of the Divine?
- What in the listening exercise surprised you? What was your emotional response to being listened to? Being ignored? What does your response say about the relationship of emotions and mind?
- In your week of meditation practice with a focus on mind, what thoughts arose? What is the relationship of these thoughts to emotions? Do these thoughts define you or are they separate from you, or both?
Chapter Five: Spirit—Intuitive Wisdom
- When you tried the conjured sensuality exercise, what surprised you?
- When you listened quietly within before the conjured burning bush, did you hear a calling? If so, what did you hear? What do you make of this inner charge?
- What is the place of prayer in your life? How does it enhance your wholeness?
Chapter Six: Hand—The Power to Touch
- During your week of baseless generosity, what was your most memorable act of giving? How did the acts of generosity affect you?
- What was your experience of the chesed meditation? How did it open you to seeing others differently? Yourself?
- When you tried writing an ethical will, what surprised you? Did you gain any insights to who you are as a person or how you relate to your family? What changes do you want to make in your inner or outer relationships?
Chapter Seven: Inner Peace—Balanced from Within
- How did you experience “Walking in the Light”?
- When you practiced “Revisiting Obstacles to Our Completeness,” what was different from your experience practicing “Identifying an Obstacle to Inner Peace” in chapter one?
- When you listened to “A Final Blessing,” what images and feelings were evoked for you? In what ways did it allow you to feel more whole?
Afterword: Crafting a Practice
- Describe your observance of the Sabbath. What do you gain from this practice? What elements do you aspire to add?
- What practices from this book do you want to incorporate into your life? Do you want to practice them daily? Weekly? Be specific when describing your commitment to yourself and your inner cultivation.
- Choose three memorable ideas from this book that will enable you to achieve greater inner calm, strength and effectiveness. What are they? Why do you think they will be helpful to you?
How long did this book take you to write?
My teacher Rabbi Simon Greenberg said that when a person asks you how long a sermon took to compose, give your age—for each sermon is a product of accumulated learning. This book also reflects a lifetime of seeking greater understanding of how to live a more balanced, whole and holy life. The process of writing itself took five years, starting when I composed notes for lectures. I rewrote the manuscript from scratch at least three different times and it went through many, many edits. I often reminded myself of the statement attributed to Justice Louis Brandeis, “There is no good writing, only good rewriting.”
How did you get the idea to incorporate YouTube videos?
While teaching this material, I found it essential to use guided meditations. When I began to write over five years ago the technology wasn’t as streamlined or accessible when integrating visual experiences with the written word. In reading the tenth-anniversary edition of Pastor Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life, I saw that he used QR codes to introduce each chapter. “Technology!” I thought. “At last, I have a way to present spoken material to enable my readers to let go of the written word and to go inward—with guidance.”
Why are you qualified to write about wholeness?
My strength is that I am curious about my inner self and the world around me. I am aware of my own need to gain greater calm, including turning down the volume of distracting thoughts and shifting to focused attention. For close to twenty-five years I have engaged in daily meditation and a prayer practice. As a rabbi, I have counseled many others, gaining insight from intimately observing their struggles. I write not as a guru but as a student of increasing wholeness, having had the privilege to learn with teachers of great wisdom and integrity.
Tell us more about those teachers.
Two of these teachers were Colette Aboulker-Muscat of Jerusalem and Marielle Fuller of Laguna Beach, California. Each of them used guided imagery to enable insight and even healing. They never met, but shared a common teacher, Robert DeSoille, a French pioneer in using wakeful, guided dreams in therapeutic settings. These women each developed their own scripts and distinctive styles. Between the two of them, I engaged in weekly guided imageries over three years. As a rabbi, I have employed their techniques in my own way. I find that such wakeful dreams are very helpful in generating personal insights.
Can a person sustain the feeling of wholeness?
Life is a seesaw, with ups and downs in the course of any single day. Yet with steady effort, we may increase balance, enabling greater ease and enhanced resiliency after negative experiences. I do not experience sustained bliss, but with mindfulness, I am more often calm, motivated to help others and able to more readily say, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
What is one insight that you hope readers will take away from your book?
There are no shortcuts to enhanced inner wholeness. Rather we can grow through steady effort—including slowing down to try new things and pausing to become more aware of what is already before us. And yes, that change—change for enjoying our lives more and contributing more effectively to crafting a kinder and more just world—is possible.