Tonight we have counted the 22nd day, beginning the 4th week of counting of the Omer. This is the week of Endurance or Fortitude (Netzach).
I went to the cardiologist yesterday, my print-out of blood pressure readings (both AM and PM) in hand. He told me I didn’t have to take my blood pressure twice a day, as I have been so diligently doing.
“No, it’s a good thing,” I assured him. I shared my excitement about my fledgling prayer and meditation practice that accompanies my blood pressure reads morning and night. “This is the silver lining; don’t tell me not to do it!” After telling me about the several patients of his who had used biofeedback as a way to lower their blood pressure, he again tried to take the wind from my sails: only one of his patients has stuck with the practice of biofeedback as a way to combat their high blood pressure.
Did he have my number? Will I, too, become a casualty of broken promises and a lack of commitment?
How does one commit to new good habits for the long haul? Almost everything I know about habit comes from my Mussar study and practice, and now from new research in neurobiology that bolsters the argument that the brain can be re-triggered through repetition and the creation of new habits. I’m not sure if there is a clear turning point when I can rest assured that this practice will “stick,” when I can trust that I am truly conditioned to daily prayer and meditation. I can only hope that I will pass whatever hump I have to pass and realize that I need it, like I need my swims and my sleep and my meals.
So I now start the day with prayer, meditation, and chant… and then the inevitable blood pressure reading. I end the day with prayer, meditation, and chant… and a blood pressure reading.
My morning ritual typically consists of (1) Modah ani/I give thanks (I’ve just learned two new Shefa Gold chants for that prayer); (2) Asher yatzar (giving thanks for the body and the organs that are in working order); (3) Ashrei (expressing joy for dwelling in God’s house).
My nighttime practice includes the Angel blessing and the counting of the Omer.
Both include mindfulness meditation, with a focus on the breath, as well.
During this week of Netzach, of fortitude and endurance, I pray that my undertaking becomes truer and deeper. May you, too, have a week of renewed commitments and the energy to persevere.