Larry Terkel has meditated everyday, without fail, for the past 45 years.
Closing the season for the Mystic Heart Community Meditation Program, Terkel will lead the class in the Jewish discipline of Kabbalah meditation. The class will meet weekday mornings at 7:15 a.m. at the conference room at the Main Gate Welcome Center. No gate pass is required to attend, but donations are encouraged.
Known for his startling flexibility and ability to strike perplexing poses, Terkel returned to the United States from a one-year tour through India to study in 1971 and began teaching yoga and meditation in Hudson, Ohio, where he founded the Spiritual Life Society.
“I’ve been practicing meditation everyday for the past 45 years of my life,” he said. “I could look you in the eye and say that.”
Elaborating on his philosophy, Terkel said with practice, meditation can become a way to find insight to navigate the stresses and spurs life can throw.”
“I consider meditation to be a practice of listening,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’ll all hear a little voice inside of us telling us all the answers we need to our problems. But there is a message.”
Terkel appreciates Judaism for its practical purposes, he said. He mentioned the simplicity of mandating a day of rest, especially given the context of Judaism’s creation when most people were subsistence farmers and worked long hours in the field every day.
“One of the things about Judaism is that there’s a very practical component to it,” he said. “The concept of rest and relaxation, they make a component for meditation in the practice.”
The mystical aspects of Judaism came to be known as Kabbalah, which translates “to receive,” or “to accept.”
In contrast to some of the other disciplines of meditation the Mystic Heart program teaches, Terkel’s style is different because he encourages thinking, while some of the other practices teach students to mute thinking.
“Most meditation teachers teach how not to think,” Terkel said. “I teach how to think.”
However, he said in his time touring India, he realized how similar Kabbalah meditation is to all other disciplines.
“All the things I studied in India are in the Kabbalah,” Terkel said. “We just have a slightly different approach.”
While not everyone will knock meditation out of the park on their first shot, Terkel said it’s about practice, perseverance and patience.
“Meditation is like exercise for the body,” Terkel said. “It’s exercise for the mind. I don’t meditate for peace; I meditate for insight. If you listen, it’s amazing what comes up.”
On top of his meditation sessions, Terkel will be leading two seminars in which he will explain his philosophy. The seminars are titled “Meditation and Your Brain,” and “Meditation and Your Health,” and will take place at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, in the Hall of Missions.