Leonard Felder is a licensed psychologist in West Los Angeles who has written 12 books on personal growth that have sold over one million copies. He leads discussions and workshops throughout the country at both synagogues and churches as well as at numerous interfaith events. Here I Am revolves around eight stress-reduction and mind-focusing Jewish spiritual practices that the author has tested for almost 30 years with his clients and loved ones.
In moments during the day of extreme stress, Felder recommends the first spiritual practice which involves "stopping, breathing calmly, and hearing the silent supportive question 'Where are you?' Then when you're ready, you can answer from your heart and soul, 'Hineini. Here I am.' "
A second spiritual practice comes in handy when you feel impatient with yourself or others. It is especially relevant to those who feel the need to over-ride "the constant problem-seeking tendencies of your brain." The tool is "radical amazement," a mind-bending approach used by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel to marvel at the mysteries and wonders we take for granted when we are caught up in our own stress stories. Tapping into the Divine stream and rejoicing with gratitude is a fine antidote to tossing and turning in anxiety.
Certainly one of the major priorities in our daily lives is staying healthy by eating right, exercising, and taking good care of our bodies. Saying a prayer of gratitude for our flesh and physical vitality can work wonders. Felder suggests the following brief blessings:
"I am so thankful for being alive and being able to stand here with my body working as well as it does" or "Wow, this body is an amazing gift, and I better not take it for granted."
The remaining recommended spiritual practices are: the tzimtzum method for energizing oneself and empowering others; the Pirke Avot technique of learning from difficult people who irritate or harm you; the mantra "Even this could possibly be for good" as an inspirational spur; a meditation on the pure soul when your purpose wanes; and a centering technique called Shehecheyanu (which means seeing the newness and greater possibilities in each unique moment) as a motivator to pull you out of a rut.
Felder has done a fine job providing us with eight transformative practices that can enhance and deepen our everyday spiritual life.