Thursday, September 01, 2011

LAUNCHING PREPENT5772: Amichai's 40 days journey to find focus starts today. join me!

welcome to PREPENT5772: 40 days +40 ways to refocus mind, body, soul/Your daily high holidays guide 9/1-10/9 2011 (scroll down for intro. note)

DAY 1/ 9/1/11 WHERE ARE YOU?

Where am I?

I sit up in bed, two nights ago, and squint with surprise at the unfamiliar room, barely lit by a foggy dawn. It takes me a minute to remember: San Francisco, on my friends’ living room couch, stranded by Irene.

Maps unfold and the GPS consulted when we are lost and need direction. We don’t ask it when home – when all is ok. ‘Where are you?’ is one of those seemingly mundane but super mythic question. It’s where it all begins.

Ayeka? Where are you? This is the first big question asked in the Bible. The Creator is asking the first people are who hiding in the trees, right after taking a bite of a forbidden fruit and jumpstarting the history of human desire.

That first “where are you?” implies that something went wrong. It isn’t a question of geographical whereabouts. It’s an invitation for clarity and introspection – where are you now? Who are you now that you’re no longer an obedient child, that you’ve taken that first step of independence, free will, and are aware of choices, consequences, shame, body, life and death?

Never mind Adam and Eve’s answers – they sadly just pass the buck of blame. What matters for us here, today, is that the question echoes, old and now: what’s wrong? What’s troubling you? What do you feel badly about and want to acknowledge, work on, change, and improve?

The first step in this PREPENT journey is to hear the question. The second is to attempt an answer: to make the short list of forbidden fruits in our private digestive system. We each have them – and this is the time for looking back at this past year – what sin or transgression, habit or crime, crutch or craving – is holding us back from the happier, helpful, fully human beings we want to be.

Top of my list of ‘needs fixing’ is literally fruit. Or more accurately – nutrition. I know that I am what I eat and know enough to prioritize wellness and avoid that which makes me overweight, out of shape, unhealthy, and grumpy.

I ask myself ‘where are you’? On the electronic weights in the gym this morning, the numbers flashing an instant answer. Not too bad – but there’s room for improvement.

Where are you?

On a blank screen or a sheet of paper, or anywhere and anyway you’d like – ask yourself this ancient question and listen to what your soul says and what is the one primary task ahead of you this year. The journey begins, like all journeys, with a finger pointing at the map: ’you are here now.'


I thrive on deadlines. Who doesn’t? We’re wickedly and wisely wired to improve, organize, complete and focus better when we know the time is up. PREPENT5772 is an exercise in conscious attention to the annual process known as Teshuva – Hebrew for ‘return’ or ‘repentance.’ This 40 days journey blog leads to the deadline: Sunset on Yom Kippur - the 5772nd Day of Atonement since the creation of the world.

PREPENT, based on contemplative Jewish traditions, begins on the first day of the last month of the Jewish year. On each of the 40 days leading to Yom Kippur one is reminded to refocus within on what matters most, what needs attention, where change for the better can happen, and how it can last.

This is my second year of keeping the public PREPENT blog. I started it last year because I wanted to practice, like a marathon runner, way ahead of the High Holidays intensity. I wanted not only to begin a New Year with 40 days worth of introspection and intention but also to invite my friends and wider community to take this journey within. Each day provided insights and conversations, culminating in sacred gatherings that meant so much more. So here we go again a workout for the mind, soul – and body.

This year I want to ask questions – 40 of them – a daily dose of important questions, big and small, ancient and new, that will hopefully help us cut through the crap and reach for the core. Questions that will help us change, for good.

Comments, questions, suggestions – always welcome. Shana Tova.

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