Navigating The Vast And Wondrous Sea Of Hitbodedut – What, Why, How, When?

Hitbodedut is a unique form of prayer typically conducted alone, using one’s own words and mother tongue.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that it’s best to perform it in a secluded location, such as the woods, a beach, or a desert, where one can concentrate better. However, it can be done anywhere that is clean. Breslov Chassidim try to do it at night and at least for 1 hour uninterrupted.

Although the concept of Hitbodedut is often associated with Breslov circles, its origins can be traced back to the Zohar, where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai introduces the idea of the Mara D’Chushbana, or “master of accounting.” This refers to someone who continually judges himself and, as a result, receives unique illumination and blessing.

During Hitbodedut, one expresses their innermost feelings to Hashem, confesses their shortcomings, and shares their hopes for the future. Whether praising, crying, laughing, dancing, or making requests, people are free to express themselves in a manner that is respectful and directed toward Him.

Hitbodedut is best done in the forest

The Psychological Effects of Conscious Awareness in Healing

I’m a firm believer in the science and art of energy healing by using one’s mind and energy body. We will have to do a full post on this later.

The technique of focusing one’s consciousness on a specific organ or member of the body has also been studied and researched in the field of science. According to research in the field of neuroplasticity, the brain has the ability to change and reorganize itself based on experiences and activities. This means that by focusing our attention and consciousness on a specific part of the body, we can activate neural pathways and promote healing and regeneration.

This is all mainstream science, by the way.

Furthermore, research in the field of psychoneuroimmunology has shown that the mind and body are intricately connected and that thoughts and emotions can profoundly impact physical health and well-being. I think everyone knows that by now. Either way, by focusing our consciousness on a specific part of the body, we can activate the body’s natural healing mechanisms and promote a greater sense of wellbeing and vitality.

The practice of mindfulness and meditation has been shown to have numerous benefits for physical and mental health, including reducing stress, improving immune function, and promoting overall wellbeing. By focusing our consciousness on the present moment and cultivating a state of calm and awareness, we can tap into the body’s natural healing abilities and promote more health and vitality.

Whether through Hitbodedut or modern scientific techniques, the power of focused consciousness on healing the body and mind is undeniable. This is also seen in Shaarei Kedusha where Rabbi Chaim Vital teaches that each Mitzvah is connected to a limb or organ. When a person does a Mitzvah, he brings divine energy to the part of the body connected to it. When he makes a sin, the part withers.

Hitbodedut reinforces the notion that focused consciousness can promote healing. Through deep introspection and self-reflection, we gain insight into the negative patterns and beliefs that hinder our growth and behavior. By directing our consciousness towards these areas of our lives, we can challenge and replace them with empowering beliefs, paving the way for transformation and healing.

Understanding Judgments Properly

The concept of Judgments, which is the mechanism behind the decisions made in Heaven, is exceedingly intricate. Although Divine Providence is challenging to comprehend, Hashem provides us with glimpses of what is expected of us to gain favor and transform the events in our lives.

As previously discussed, Hashem utilizes two primary forces to manage His Creation: Chassadim (lovingkindness) and Gevurot (Strengths) or Dinim (Judgments). These two opposing forces complement each other and are vital to maintaining a balance between pleasure and pain, reward and punishment, while still allowing for our free will.

Contrary to popular belief, our goal is not to eliminate the Judgments, but rather to “sweeten” them. While they are not inherently “bad,” if left unchecked, they can feed and empower the forces of evil. According to the Zohar, and later elaborated upon by the Arizal and Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the Judgments (Dinim) can only be mitigated at their source.

This serves as the fuel for elevating the female waters and generating the male waters in Heaven to facilitate a divine union, ultimately bringing down the blessings we require in life. In other words, we need this judgment to lift the fallen sparks below, allowing us to draw abundance effectively.

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Impact of Hitbodedut

The Impact of Hitbodedut According to the Tzava’at HaRivash, the Baal Shem Tov believed that the words spoken during Hitbodedut are a form of Ruach HaKodesh (Divine Spirit), emanating from a state of Dvekut (bonding) with Hashem. This not only enhances self-awareness but also has a powerful calming effect on the individual, akin to expressing oneself to a therapist.

The ultimate goal of Hitbodedut is to achieve a mental state of self-isolation, leading to true Teshuva. Teshuva is attained by connecting to Hashem intimately and elevating our fallen sparks to their source. These sparks contain the judgments within us, which often prevent us from reaching a rectified state. The Midrash Rabba (Devarim 5:5) teaches that “when Judgment (din) is done below, it is not done above, and when Judgment is not done below, it is done above”.

On a macrocosmic level, this refers to the Sanhedrin and courts of Law, which must uphold Justice based on the truth of the Torah. When done correctly, peace is brought to the world and Hashem’s court is “dismissed”. However, when the judges are corrupt or ignore cases, then Hashem’s court intervenes and calamities befall Creation.

On an individual level, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us that the same thing happens. When a person constantly judges themselves, there is no need for further judgments from Above. Therefore, their suffering is alleviated. The practice of Hitbodedut is an awesome tool to elevate and sweeten the judgments, which is what Hashem expects of us.

May we all merit these wondrous levels!

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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