Five Towns Jewish Home - 5-30-17

Page 96

96 36

MAY 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

A Journey to a Peaceful Presence By Andrew Kahn

As Shavuos arrives, I am ready to renew my acceptance of G-d’s gift of Torah. I’m also grateful for this opportunity to make an introduction. Allow me to tell you more about me, yoga and The Peaceful Presence Studio.

I

began my yoga practice at about 10-years-old with my mother as my teacher. I’d like to say that it has all been a smooth ride since then but that would be a lie. Perplexed by life without any religion or central guiding philosophy, I desperately needed answers in my youth and I reached the point where I would go almost anywhere to find them. For the first 25 years of my life it was comforting to know that I could turn to food whenever I needed to cope with anxiety, fear, doubt, insecurity, frustration, rejection, boredom, loneliness – or just for socialization, celebration and enjoyment. Food was truly my “idol” and I had no other G-d before it. I returned again and again to the refrigerator, the cabinets, and the markets and I would simply stuff my face... I wanted to find my way out but sadly could not. I was entrenched in the battle of life and the food was the “higher power” that I used to fill the many voids in my heart. My over-dependency left me empty, rather than gaining proficiency at securing the appropriate “ingredients” I needed in order to have a fulfilled life: stable and loving

relationships, a purpose to live for, and clear moral guidelines to develop contentment and inner peace. Eventually, it became clear to me that the strategy I was using was not working. Life too often felt like torture. How to gain self-control was a pressing question. I needed to keep my head above water. Nearing my wit’s end, I looked around for whatever was in reach that I might grab hold of as a life preserver. My mother introduced me to a spiritual recovery fellowship. My father spent hours talking with me about psychology and philosophy, and eventually he gave me a book about meditation. I decided to study psychology. It

in a 12 step program specifically for those suffering in their relationship with food. Finally, I deepened my connection to the tradition to which I was born but which had little understanding of: Judaism. With the help of compassionate teachers and role models, I embraced my faith. I found that the answers I had been seeking were within the teachings of Torah. This elevated my thinking, improved my clarity, and got me even more passionate about my purpose: to continue to come into greater alignment with the Loving Source of strength that I had learned to open up to. It became clear to me that my goal in

I found that the answers I had been seeking were within the teachings of Torah.

seemed like a logical place to find answers regarding mental health and also a means to earn an income. In 1990 I graduated, was president of the psychology club, and then began a Clinical Psychology PhD program at Fordham University. However, I found the answers to questions like “what is a healthy human being?” to be insufficient. Next I immersed myself in the study and practice of holistic health, yoga, and meditation in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. This was coupled with intensive involvement

life was to help others gain wellbeing and peace. I am a kohein who understands that he is set apart for a definite purpose. I am a part of the incredible 3,000-year-old struggle of the Jewish people. Connected to G-d and the light of others, I am now shining my own light. What is the most important thing I learned on my journey? G-d can and does provide guidance, support, strength and fulfillment more and more as I open up and let Him in. There are many disciplines I am in-

volved in toward this end. Since 2012 I have been learning Rabbi Noah Weinberg’s Torah teachings. In May 2016 I had my chance to travel to Jerusalem for a truly inspiring, bonding men’s trip with Aish HaTorah and then returned to Jerusalem with my wife and son in January of 2017. It really felt like a homecoming. We are not picking up and moving there right now but a seed has been planted, and time will tell how, when, and where it grows. My wife Lori and I named our son Aaron after Moshe’s brother, Aaron. We are trying to teach him about “loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind and drawing them closer to the Torah.” It is too soon to say whether he will become a doctor like Lori and her father or take the Peaceful Presence Yoga Studio to the next level. We will love him and G-d will determine his path and timing.

Yoga Each week another article praising yoga appears in a major newspaper. Doctors are recommending it, schools – including yeshivas – are teaching it, and major hospitals now incorporate it into their programming. Yoga stretches and strengthens the muscles, improves joint flexibility and overall circulation, helps focus the mind, calms the emotions, and leaves one with an experience of increased peace. One who practices yoga typically learns to breathe more deeply and develops a combination of flexibility with receptivity, and physical strength. Changes in diet (toward the natural) and lifestyle (more active) are also natural bi-products