There is a very beautiful concept in Judaism called כַּוָּנָה “kavanah” which would translate as “the intention” and is actually a movement, the movement of your heart that you can feel when you really mean something – when you really mean it.
It can definitely be experienced physically. It may depend on how you are attuned to your own body and if you pay attention to very subtle sensations when trying to connect your words and your mind, your spirit and your body at the same time and in the same movement. It is a matter of awareness. It is also a matter of practice: setting an intention may take some preparation, like a ritualistic one.
If we intend to really delight our guests with a feast, we will set a beautiful table, take our fine china out, make sure we get the mess out of sight, clean our surroundings and be prepared on time.
If we intend to deliver a good speech to our public, we will make sure to prepare our text, maybe time our delivery and rehearse our movements.
When we take stock of our year before the high holy days, it should be as important as setting a beautiful table and getting our thoughts all in good order. This is when I think of kavanah as residing inside my heart because I can sense a bit of heaviness settling in advance which is different from simple “stage fright”, or this instinct to flee from something that would be scary. The questions that come to my mind are all about my honesty, my sincerity: do I really mean what my words say? Sometimes, because I talk too much, I feel like the words are just cover-ups, that there should not be that many words to express the real intention. That is when my heart wants to jump forward and just show what it is capable of doing by just loving, opening up and praising the beauty of Creation.
This year, I have committed to a daily blog in English to participate in @imabima’s project of Elul. I will dedicate my endeavor for the רפואה שלמה complete healing of מרדכי אלעזר בן חנה מרים (Mordechai ben Chanah).
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