How to pray like a Kabbalist
We can gain some insight on how to pray from food and wine enthusiasts. When they want to feel the taste of the food and experience drinking wine, they let it sit in their mouth. They allow the aromas to ascend up into their nostrils and their brains, so it can be fully appreciated and relished.
The same thing should be done while saying the words of the blessings and prayers. You have to let it “sit in your mouth and be cherished” for these words will be rising to the Throne of Glory, and brought in front of Hashem. The more you put your energy and understanding into the words the more they will be appreciated and relished above. Thus, eliciting an influx of blessings to be returned to the Worlds below.
Therefore, become a prayer enthusiast and connect to the inner meaning [Kavanna] of the word, chew on the words and give your mind time to process it. This what is what we mean by the term “meditate”.
Obviously, if one were to do this with all the words of prayer, then one would not finish praying. Do not get discouraged, just keep moving forward at a steady pace, picking up a word here and a word there. Practice. Review the words outside of the time for prayer and let your brain process the words. Prayer is your most secure job [Avoda], as you are hired for life.
Over time, as you develop “conscious praying”, you will notice your mind recalling the inner meanings faster with less effort; the more you learn about the word, naturally, your mind will add depth to your understanding.
Therefore, work to understand the inner meanings of words and get familiar with them as you go along. Know, what you are able to master you are gaining.
Don’t get discouraged by thinking that you won’t be able to master the whole system because even if you get one part of it you can use it in your prayer. Whatever it is that you are gaining from it is a pure gain.
What Does it Mean to have Kavanot (Kabbalistic Jewish Meditation)?
According to the simple understanding of Kavanah, it means to have intention while doing the Mitzvah (think of the impact and what mitzvah you are doing). Like the sages say, “Mitzvot need Kavanah”. We learn from the laws of the Beit Ha’Mikdash that bringing a sacrifice with the wrong intent disqualifies the offering. The soul is the seat of awareness and intention.
We learn that the same is true in prayer; one must meditate and have Kavanot at the time of prayer and doing Mitzvot for it to be accepted. All that is required is the simplest of Kavanot; the greater the Kavanah, the higher the impact and repairing of the worlds, thus fulfilling the Positive Commandment (Mitzvah) of repairing the internal and external aspects of the Four Worlds: Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah, Asiyah.
How does one increase one’s Kavanah? It involves divesting the soul from the material (meaning raising consciousness from the body to the soul) and thereby arousing things in the upper realms. Through the study of Torah, increased awareness of Hashem, character refinement, knowing what repairs are to be done, contemplation and meditation, can we achieve this awakening.
You can find out more about Kabbalah Meditation here. Another popular meditation is the 72 Names of God. To learn about what meditation to do at the graves of Tzaddikim, click here. Also see the life story of the Arizal the greatest of the modern Kabbalists.