Movement meditation — Kabbalah, yoga, and more

Beliefnet on Movement meditation across traditions…

Q: I read a lot about t’ai-chi, yoga, and chi-kung. Are all movement meditation practices Eastern? Are there any that are Judeo-Christian or Islamic?

A: I’d like to give you a definitive yes or no, but the answer to both questions is not so simple. The practices you mention have come to represent the sine qua non of movement meditation. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything equivalent in the Abrahamic religions. I know of no standard Christian, Jewish, or Islamic movement meditations that truly resemble the Eastern versions in either style or content.

At second glance, there might be such disciplines in the West and Middle East after all. It depends on how we define the term “movement meditation.” Consider that until we Westerners became interested in Eastern forms of meditation, we generally did not use this word to describe Western spiritual practice. We were more likely to refer to prayer or contemplation. But once “meditation” entered our vocabulary and experience from Asian philosophies and religions, we discovered it in Western traditions as well. For example, Jews and Christians who had experimented with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism began to search for and unearth “lost” or hidden meditation methods in their own religions. Today, there is a groundswell of interest in the Jewish mystical meditations of Kabbalah.


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Israeli Film at Toronto Film Festival -A Boycott that Utterly Misses the Point – Time Magazine


Somehow the celebrity activists have managed to ignore that Tel Aviv’s progressive culture and the new wave of Israeli cinema while engaging in this latest protest.  Tel Aviv is the progressive center of Israel.  But the protesters decided that censorship is a better idea and that a country whose policies they disagree with should not be showcased for its art and culture – no matter how insightful, probing, or provocative. Tel Aviv,  from which much of this great new Israeli art is coming – is confronting through it’s new wave of cinema the issues the protestors claim to be concerned about. 

Such action only seeks to limit the honest discussion of the struggles.   Which also makes one wonder – why are Danny Glover, Ken Loach, Julie Christie and others not protesting their own countries’ films and appearances at Toronto. Somehow they forgot their own nations are responsible for what they accuse Israel of – only on a far greater scale. By their own logic, their own cities should be banned from being represented in City by City. Then again, nobody votes themselves out of a job. If Tel Aviv culture and cinema is “propaganda for Israeli government” then Ken Loach’s films and British Cinema of Social Protest are “propaganda for Margaret Thatcher era and the right in the UK.” 

They claim to not be censoring, but that’s exactly what they are doing. Shame on them.  For the sake of peace – great voices and art must be celebrated and the dialogue must begin.  Kudos to those celebrities who spoke out against this boycott.  And to Jane Fonda for taking herself out of the protest once she realized it was a very bad idea.

From Time Magazine:

Lebanon, directed by Samuel Maoz

Each year, in its City to City program, the Festival highlights a foreign cinema; and when TIFF chose Tel Aviv as the 2009 city, controversy erupted. “Tel Aviv is the military center of Israel,” said Canadian author Naomi Klein, “a place from which fighter jets departed on their missions to Gaza last December-January.” Soon it was mandatory for politically active stars to take sides. Sacha Baron Cohen, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Voight and Oprah Winfrey voiced their support for the program; Harry Belafonte, Julie Christie, Jane Fonda and Viggo Mortensen were all for a boycott. Politics aside (which it never is at a film festival), the protesters ignored Israel’s recent emergence as a vital national cinema — and that many of the country’s prize-winning films, from The Band’s Visit to Waltz with Bashir, take a complex humanist approach to Arab-Israeli relations. That is certainly the case with Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon, which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival and was one of Toronto’s unarguable hits. (See TIME’s Photos: Waltz With Bashir, and Other Animated Films For Adults)

Like Bashir director Ari Folman, Maoz served in the 1982 Israeli-Lebanon war; his film is a survivor’s haunted memory of that conflict. Except for the opening and closing shots of a field of sunflowers, the entire film takes place in an Israeli tank holding four very nervous soldiers. The only view to the streets outside is through the gunsight aimed at insurgents and civilians. Which ones to shoot at? Which ones to save? Imprisoning the audience with the soldiers may be a gimmick, but it’s an inspired one: the viewer wants both to stay inside — shielding them from harm, or from doing harm — and to get the hell out. The situation may be familiar from dozens of Hollywood foxhole dramas, but the treatment is original: What other movie has, as its exalting emotional climax, the spectacle of one man helping another to pee into a tin can? Working as a horrors-of-war screed and a depiction of men under impossible stress, Lebanon is a salutary, unrelentingly claustrophobic nightmare.