The Intuitive-Connections Network

Current Update as of June 7, 2002

Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies

Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.

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Intuition, Body Wisdom and the Torah

An Introduction to the Diane Elliot's 'Torah of the Body'

By Lorrie Kazan

When I signed on as associate editor, one of my first actions was to solicit articles dealing with both Kabbalah and with Jewish spirituality in general. My goals were at least two-fold. I wanted to provide access to Jewish spirituality for our readers and myself. I’ve found Judaic wisdom to be incredibly enriching, and yet still relatively unknown and unexplored in new age circles. In many enlightened groups (including those I’ve met through the Edgar Cayce Foundation) there’s often a sense that Judaism is the incomplete or archaic religion and the emphasis is on developing Christ consciousness, Jesus consciousness, and an assumption (even by Jews) that one must look to Buddhism or Christianity in order to experience the depths of spirituality. 

To be more explicit, let me quote Diane Elliot, one of the generous writers who responded to my call:

“Jewish spirituality encompasses a broad range of kinds of activities, including prayer, study of sacred texts, ritual and an ethical way of being and acting in the world. Kabbalah, an esoteric mystical pursuit, was historically limited to an elite, partly because it was outside the mainstream, and also because in order to truly enter the rarified realms of kabbalistic practice, it was understood that one had to be deeply grounded in all other aspects of Jewish learning and life. Hence the stipulation that Kabbalah (‘that which is received’) be for men only, since women were not encouraged to and later prohibited from studying; only men over age 40 because by then one would have ample time to become steeped in Torah learning; and only men with a wife and children, since presumably, they would help one maintain a firm footing in the realm of the embodied life.

In these times when so many of the mystical practices have become disengaged from their cultural contexts, people are entering into the study of Kabbalah without grounding themselves in the full scope of Jewish law and learning.”

And to Ms. Elliot’s words I would add that we have only to read the works of scholars such as Elie Wiesel to learn of young boys driven mad by entering these esoteric worlds without being fully prepared.

I recommend Roger Kamenentz’s The Jew In The Lotus, an extraordinary book, which recounts what happened when the Dalai Lama invited a group of Jewish leaders and clergy to visit him at his sanctuary in Daramsala, and explain to him how the Jews had managed to maintain their identity and cohesiveness despite centuries of Diaspora. The rabbis had a question for the Dalai Lama and I believe that what resulted from that dialogue helped shift the tides so that Jewish spirituality is no longer a secret accorded to a learned few but is more available now than it has ever been, though one would be wise to ascertain the best sources and to start with a firm foundation.
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There are those who believe Kabbalistic interpretation is what fostered many of Nostradamus’ predictions.This is something we may delve at a later date.

Our dedication at Intuitive-Connections Network is to being on the cutting edge with intuition and all that pertains to it, and we are committed to providing a firm foundation of reliable information from which to build.

This leads me to Diane Elliot, someone I believe you should know. She’s an accomplished dancer, somatic therapist and rabbinic student. Like a lot of the information I now wish to include, her knowledge and abilities are so vast that I shy away from reducing them into my words.   

In the following article, Diane refers to “stories that live in our cells.” She uses concepts such as “collective nervous system.” Her work connects us with the sacred in ourselves and in others. She reminds us of the oneness behind all things.

Imagine if we didn’t split off from ourselves, let alone our cells, what truths they might share with us, how deeply connected, empowered and easily intuitive we might feel. When we stop rejecting ourselves we create the space for our intuition to speak, to breathe. We become one being.

 The Torah Of The Body

Diane Elliot 

Any attempt to open the body as ground and instrument for Jewish practice, as holy expression of soul, invariably smacks up against this reality: for a long time, it simply wasn’t easy or safe or pleasant to inhabit a Jewish body.

I’m a dancer and a somatic* therapist, helping people experience and live more fully in their bodies.  I was drawn into this work by my need to find the way "into" my own body. One might assume that, being born, we are all "in" our bodies, but I’ve learned that how consciously and fully we manifest our physicality depends on many factors: how we’re born and the atmosphere we’re born into; how we’re touched, held and played with as children; how the people in our lives inhabit their bodies; how safe it is to move in public; how connected we feel to nature. Many of us "have" a body that we drag around and struggle with, never really experiencing the blessing of this physical crystallization of Mind, God’s creation.

From the beginning, we Jews were a people wedded to a land as well as to God, longing for and finding our way to and losing our holy Aretz over and over. As Jews spread into the Diaspora following the destructions of the first and second Temples, we experienced periods of prosperity and safety but, perhaps more often and terrifyingly unpredictably, episodes of intolerance, repression and violence. The Holocaust was the most devastating and unspeakable in a thousands-years-long litany of hatreds, expulsions, pogroms. Such trauma, such collective and individual loss imprints itself in our body tissues, in our very cells. Our collective nervous system has gone into a kind of shock which often keeps us hovering somewhere above our heads, or perhaps just inside, in an attempt to protect us from knowing and absorbing these devastating truths.

Now, in this era and this country where there is more safety, more support and breathing space than our people has ever experienced, it’s time to ask: How can our souls come to truly inhabit and bless our bodies? How do we deepen our physical awareness and cultivate compassion for our embodied selves? As we set out to "heal the world," can we find peace within our own skins?

Ten years ago, while exploring the interface between healing and performance work, I helped to develop a form I call "Active Witness," a community-based model for eliciting and containing the stories that live in our bodies. In this work, a group creates a safe, non-judgmental container within which an individual can more fully express movements of spirit, soul and mind through his or her body. Seeing, listening to, touching, holding, singing to and sometimes moving with one person, a group can help each of its members open up more space around the various levels of "story" held within the tissues of their bodies. We do a version of this all the time, whenever one person speaks and the group listens. To do it with more of our selves, our cells, supports a richer ground of resource and bears more spiritual fruit. Because “your” story is almost always a version of “my” story, we grow and heal together.

I facilitated a group for nine months in Minneapolis, following a painful schism in our Jewish Renewal community. We shared stories of our ancestors, began to identify in our bodies the old patterns of fear and pain that had transferred into relationships within our Havurah, and in feeling them through together, helped to shift them. 

A recent session of a similar workshop, which  I called The Embodied Soul, began with people moving freely in the light, airy space of the meeting hall. With background music to help loosen the mind and focus attention, people opened to the sacredness of space by simply feeling the carpet, the air on their skin, the sunlight pouring through the big windows. As we found our sense of comfort in the room,  I guided people into a tastier, more direct experience of body: “loosen your bones,  move from the spaces in your joints, let your organs slosh, respond to the pull of gravity.”

We then shifted to working with a partner. The “mover” asked for touch in one area of the body; the “witness” offered that touch in just the way that the mover desired it.  Each couple worked together for a period of time, sometimes silently, sometimes sounding with each other. We stopped to share impressions, then exchanged roles and resumed moving, breathing,  sounding. In the discussion which followed this exercise, one person began to spontaneously speak of her pain and fear wrestling with questions of Jewish community and identity, how to do her spiritual practice, who had the “answers” for her. As the group circled to witness her, she continued to voice her distress while directing us to apply pressure on different parts of her body. Words poured directly out of her body. Gradually, she began to feel and trust the support of this group of Jews in a way that she’d not been able to before. As her body absorbed the information that she was not alone, that she was being heard and not judged, she could contact kol d’mamma, the place in herself that knew the answers.

Unscrolling the Torah of body, attending to ourselves with the same loving regard that our scholars have lavished for millenia upon each pasukof our holy text, we learn a whole new language. Sh’ma: we can hear  the pulsing of blood, the tension held in the pericardium when we’re scared, the rush of adrenaline when we’ve got something to say, the churning of the intestines when our boundaries are violated and we become angry. Developing a sensate vocabulary in ourselves and then sharing it with others, we create embodied community. We support each other in knowing the comfort of curling up and being held like a baby, the relief of lying on the floor and surrendering to gravity, the awkwardness of creeping and stumbling, the exhilaration of leaping and spinning, the trust engendered by falling and being caught.

I propose that such a process, practiced by groups of Jews together and by Jews with other people (Germans, Arabs, Christians, African Americans) will help us deepen our spiritual practices and create the vital communities we all long for. How can this happen? Every community has resource people – movement teachers, somatic therapists, bodyworkers – whose work involves helping people to more fully and honestly inhabit their bodies. Just as we count on rabbis and cantors and educators to initiate us into the complexities of our sacred texts and beautiful liturgies, we need to have movement specialists and body-based healers as part of the leadership team to initiate us into the complexities of our selves. Offering people some basic body awareness skills at the level for which they’re ready during services, meetings and retreats can help open the door to expanded levels of being together.

We need to touch the aliveness in each of us that births form. All of Creation entices us to awaken what has “died” in us, or perhaps what was never fully born. When, as Jews, we begin to practice meeting the gift of embodied life with full acceptance, not holding back, giving expression to what we have learned so well to hold still and quiet and hidden, then the body will cease being an "it," and become instead our holy teacher and God’s ally.

*Somatic is a term referring to the body as experienced from within.

Diane Elliot,  internationally respected dancer and choreographer, Registered Movement Therapist and Teacher of Body-Mind Centering®, maintains a private somatic practice in San Diego and Los Angeles and teaches throughout the country. She is active in both Shir ha Yam and the Elijah Minyan in San Diego and is currently pursuing rabbinic studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California.  She can be reached at 619-683-2602 or e-mail:

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