We hope that this section will serve as an enlightening introduction to Jewish Meditation, especially as it applies to aiding in the practice of Mussar and personal character growth. Meditation helps us control our thoughts and helps us center and focus. It draws us closer to our Creator, from Whom we draw holiness and strength as we bear His image.
Though meditation is more commonly connected to Eastern Religions, we want to emphasize to the student that Jewish Meditation often has a different objective and emphasis. Many similar tools and techniques are used, however our objectives are rooted in enhancing Jewish life and serving Hashem. The class materials call out these differences from Eastern meditation, so pay close attention to these differences when noted.
Many types of meditation were used by Jewish saints and mystics. A vast wealth of ancient literature describes how the prophets of Israel used meditation to reach their high spiritual states. Similar methods were probably used in Talmudic times. They involved repeating a divine name many times to induce the meditative state.
Although hitbodedut denotes meditation, as Rabbi Nachman saw it, it was also a form of personal prayer. Indeed, this is how most contemporary Breslover Chasidim see it. It is seen not so much as a means to attain higher states of consciousness, but as a path toward self-perfection. If a person is constantly conversing with God, he is certain to become more Godly. When he develops a strong bond with God, he is sure to have a greater desire to do God's will.
[From Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua (“Alter”) of Teplik’s anthology of classic Breslov teachings on secluded meditation and prayer, Hishtapkhut HaNefesh, translated to English by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan as “Outpouring of the Soul” (Breslov Research Institute).]
Here is our introductory class to Jewish Meditation. On this page, rav rafael gives an introduction to meditation and explores external self seclusion (25mins).
On this page, rebbetzin malkah takes over the lecture and introduces us to the inward journey of hitbodedut (14mins).
Now the rebbetzin explores specific techniques of meditation, including understanding different states of thought and how to meditate on Scripture (36mins).
Here we present more advanced meditative techniques. These are not for beginners and only for those well established in Torah, Mitzvot and have a mentor (21mins).
We conclude the class on how to use meditation to converse with G-d through prayer (12mins).
Here are the sources used for the class materials, and various resources to help with your study of Jewish meditation.