We are currently in the period known as The Counting of the Omer, the incredibly potent and transformative 49 days that start with Passover and end with Shavuot. I think of this time as a spiritual marathon of sorts. And when we connect with the power of daily spiritual work traditionally practiced at this time, we can experience a sense of cleansing and usher in more Light for ourselves and the world!
One fact of life is this: we’re always either progressing or regressing. Nothing is static; we are always in movement in a universe of dualities: good and evil, positive and negative, light and dark. We are either falling towards negativity, or we are working toward positivity. Notice how the positive requires “working,” whereas the negative is easy to fall into!
We have to continually work on elevating ourselves… and that’s where the spiritual tools offered by the Counting of the Omer come into play. As written in The Arvei Nachal, the Counting of the Omer can both help us experience complete transformation and ascend through what’s known as “the gates of purity.” Best of all, the process itself allows us to elevate through each gate at record speed! The commentary says that when we mindfully connect with this spiritual tool, it’s as though we’ve undergone eight days of spiritual work in a single instant.
So how do we do it?
Kabbalah teaches that the Creator interacts with the human world through seven channels, or sefirot, and that these channels are reflected in us through 49 aspects of our personality. The seven channels are the seven basic human traits which make up the foundation of the human experience. (And not surprisingly, the root of all our suffering is a misalignment of one or more of these traits.)
The Counting of the Omer helps us to realign ourselves by bringing our focus to each aspect of ourselves–both as it manifests within us and as it affects the whole of humanity. The idea is to meditate on each day’s emphasis for the 49 nights between Passover and Shavuot. Although we are now midway through the Omer, anyone can benefit from this practice by focusing on and working through each area, one at a time.
Each week is devoted to an emotion or trait, and every day within that week has us explore a nuanced aspect of that trait. For example, week one emphasizes love… with the second day a study of love and restriction. By engaging in such a detailed exploration of the whole of our human experience, we are also led to examine our own thoughts, words, actions, and circumstances in a new light. Through this personal evaluation of our inner (and outer) lives,, we feel ourselves cleansed. We see what is and is not working. And we feel poised to grow.
Here is the outline of the consciousness emphasized during each week of the Omer, along with actions we can take to benefit our spiritual journey:
Week 1: Chesed, or Loving-Kindness. In the first week, we experience a desire to share and harness the essence of loving kindness in all our interactions. Find ways to be kind to yourself, generous to others, appreciative of your blessings, and generous with the gifts you bring to others and the world.
Week 2: Gevurah, or Justice & Discipline. In the second week, we explore how we can utilize discipline to push ourselves forward. Explore the places and times where negative thoughts, behaviors, and criticisms show up in your life. If you’re overly critical of others, hold up a mirror to yourself. And if negative thoughts are holding you back, connect back to the Light within you.
Week 3: Tiferet, or Harmony & Compassion. The third week of the Omer is connected to compassion and balanced energy. Find ways to inject sharing into judgment, and vice versa. Give constructive criticism from a desire to help yourself and others grow. Find opportunities to share and to “give and take” with appreciation and understanding.
Week 4: Netzach, or Endurance. The fourth week and the midway point of the Omer connects us to the energy of endurance and creativity. We can utilize our abstract mind this week to think outside the box and go the extra mile in our growth. Look for creative opportunities to help others, think differently about how you can improve upon a trait within yourself, and see the artistry in nature and all that surrounds you!
Week 5: Hod, or Humility. This week connects us to humility. Look for opportunities to restrict your ego and humble yourself. See the bigger picture, appreciate the blessings that may often go overlooked, and hear the messages that will most help you grow.
Week 6: Yesod, or Bonding. This week is about gaining control over anything external that we may have allowed to previously control us. When we exert our spiritual strength of restriction, we remove the control any addictions may have on our life and instead redirect our growth towards our highest selves.
Week 7: Malchut, or Sovereignty & Leadership. This final week of the Omer combines all the previous weeks of work to manifest the reality we want. When you share, let it be in service of others. When you speak, use your words to build and not to destroy. When you listen, listen to the voice of your soul and not to your doubts. Lead with gratitude and wholeness.
The Counting of the Omer offers an opportunity for a whole-life overhaul. And by breaking down each aspect of our lives with daily meditative practice and exploration, we are able to condense the spiritual work of 400 days into 49!
Whether you are following the Omer or simply wish to engage in its powerful practices, take your time to meditate on each step along the way!
Always approach your spiritual work with certainty and trust, and connect back to the Light often. Most of all, remember that any positive transformation we experience is a gift we give not only to ourselves but to the entire world!