After I published the podcast Should Christians Do Yoga? How To Combine Energy Medicine & Religion, Flat Earth Christianity, Transcendental Meditation, Anti-Aging & More With Pastor Toby Sumpter, one of my Jewish friends reached out to me and said:
“The Christians and Yoga podcast was interesting, if you are interested in the Jewish take on that – I have summarized it below as succinctly as possible:
1. Jews believe in 5 levels of the soul. Nefesh is the lowest level and is as the Bible says resides in the blood – which while meridians don't travel exactly along with the blood, this is clearly described as an energy in the body and is consistent with chi. The second level is Ruach and means wind – there are different aspects of chi that are consistent with both of these descriptions. Above this level is when you talk about breath of life stuff in the interview, be aware that the 3rd level is called Neshama which means breath and is higher in the cause and effect ladder extending to the Divine. We believe the highest level actually resides in God.
2. Many Jews including myself believe that many of the traditions of the east originated with Abraham, it says in Genesis that he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them to the east. Most mystics believe those became the teachings of the east. Those teachings were occult in nature and some of course have degenerated into idolatry.
3. The prophets were adept meditators with remarkable meditative techniques. What many don't know is that there were schools of the prophets, most didn't just wake up and start prophesying, they studied in academy's where complex techniques using music, chanting, and certain postures were employed.
4. Hatha yoga as is commonly known is so far removed from its origins that it has essentially become sanitized in its reference to religion and so for Jews it would be ok. Chanting one needs to be careful of and the words meaning should be investigated carefully. “Om” is problematic if it is chanted in its traditional form in Hinduism which would violate the 2nd commandment. IMHO, kundalini separated from its own spiritual teachings without a qualified teacher of the tradition is dangerous and with them while deep and holding many truths are not consistent with the Bible.
5. There is debate in Jewish circles about Reiki since symbols are used but most who know the origin of those symbols say there is nothing that would contradict the Bible.
6. Masters of qi, for example, can help heal people of various things, this isn't spiritual though, most see it as a valid branch of medicine and so it's not uncommon for TCM doctors to have nice practices in orthodox Jewish communities.
7. All the above being said – each treatment, technique, workout, and meal should be linked to God if we are to be biblical minded people. It is why Jew's say a blessing before everything – to make sure we do so with the proper intention.
8. One needs to be conscious of Matthew's saying about not serving 2 masters. Most don't realize that it echoes the 7th commandment as we believe that along with the common belief of what adultery is, it also means dilution, weakening, or mixing of any pure relationship. As my teacher Gerald Epstein, MD reminds me often health, healing, and holiness come from the same root. If it is all about tangible physical healing one can usually make the distinction fairly easily but all of these paths can, if you wish, lead to more ethereal and spiritual experiences, it is at these levels, one needs to honor the spiritual path you are on, be discerning, and not to have another Master.”
He then went on to introduce me to Dr. Gerald Epstein, his teacher and said that he had used Dr. Epstein's teachings and techniques in his medical practice, where he has seen it shrink metastatic tumors that should have killed his patients years ago. He then proceeded to connect me with Dr. Epstein, who is the guest on today's podcast.
Gerald Epstein, M.D., has been a pioneer in the use of mental imagery for treating physical and emotional problems. With more than 40 years of training in the mind, he is a leading proponent of the Western spiritual tradition and its application to healing and therapeutics. Dr. Epstein maintains a private practice in New York City and is a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York's Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He has lectured and taught worldwide. He founded and directs the American Institute for Mental Imagery (AIMI). As an NYS Regents Chartered School, AIMI offers courses to the general public in healing and the western spiritual path as well as certificate programs for licensed mental health professionals.
He is a recipient of a National Institutes of Health Grant in Alternative Medicine to research the effects of mental imagery in the treatment of bronchial asthma. He has authored several mental imagery classic books and CDs including: Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery, Healing Into Immortality, The Phoenix Process, Kabbalah For Inner Peace and The Natural Laws of Self-Healing. In 2012, he was awarded “Imagery Person of the Year” by Imagery International. Most recently, he completed the “Encyclopedia of Mental Imagery: Colette Aboulker-Muscat's 2100 Visualization Exercises for Personal Development, Healing and Self-Knowledge”
Dr. Gerald Epstein's focus is using the power of imagination for healing and he has studied this in Christian and Jewish and even Sufi perspectives. His main teacher was a remarkable woman who lived in Jerusalem – she had people come from all over the world to see her and she would lead them through mental imagery exercises that would heal them (there are some amazing stories there we delve into in today's podcast). He left traditional psychiatry to study with this woman and learn her path, and he also has written some interesting things about how Freudian psychoanalysis is an anti-biblical approach. In Judaism, death is a perversion. One of his main focuses is on immortality – and his upcoming book is entitled We Are Not Meant to Die.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-The fascinating story of the teacher Dr. Epstein met in Jerusalem and the fringe mental imagery exercises he learned from her…9:15
-How some people sleep less than an hour a night, eat barely anything at all, and still function just fine…32:00
-How Dr. Epstein practically uses the power of imagination for healing…45:15
-Why Dr. Epstein believes every physical malady is related to a social or a spiritual disturbance…53:00
-How to detox the liver through visualization…59:30
-What Dr. Epstein means when he says “We Are Not Meant To Die” and his current studies on immortality…1:08:00
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
–Miracle Noodles by Dr. Jonathan Carp
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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Dr. Epstein or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!