This variety can help us:
- get started
- get unstuck if we were using one method and are suddenly finding it difficult to continue in that vein
Since time immemorial, our tzaddikim emphasize that Hashem should be our Best Friend and that we should speak with Him with that idea in mind.
Rav Avigdor Miller broke this idea into very small steps (such as thinking of Hashem while walking from one utility pole to the next when you're out and about or telling Hashem at least once a day "I love You").
Here is more from Rav Miller about it:
- Why Does Hashem Want Us to Talk to Him So Much?
- A 60-Second Exercise to Fulfill Your Main Purpose in Life
And most of us are probably familiar with Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's focus on speaking with Hashem for 1 hour a day — which is simplified even further by Rav Arush's advice to break it up into 20-minute increments of gratitude, confession, and requests.
This hour is the minimum, by the way. Any spare moment we have should be dedicated to some kind of connection with Hashem. Needless to say, I am not on the level where I do this myself with any kind of regularity, but this is excellent advice for the direction in which we should be going, so I'm passing it on.
We're all in this together & we're all learning on whatever level we're at as we go along.
And Rav Arush simplifies this even more by reassuring people of the power of just saying "Thank you."
He even recommended that one unhappy & struggling woman should write down a list of 20 things per day — how long does that take? Not long at all; you could even do it in a minute.
And despite minor differences in methodology (to accommodate the different needs of different soul-roots), it's also important to note where they're similar.
Everyone believes in developing a relationship with Hashem.
Everyone believes in speaking with Hashem as a loving Father or Friend.
For example, the Lubavitcher Tanya cautions against self-denigration for more than an hour a day. I can't remember where exactly — maybe it's in Igeret Hateshuvah: Chapter 7 (see note 17 also) and/or Likutei Amarim: Chapter 31 — and from the Tanya, it seems this hour is derived from the famous Talmudic statement: "One hour of teshuvah with good deeds in this world is better than all the life of the World to Come."
(I love the Tanya, but am not so familiar with it. So if anyone has anything to correct here or to add, please feel free.)
Likewise, one of the late Breslover tzaddikim, Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender, also cautioned against doing a cheshbon hanefesh for more than an hour a day.
(Some people spend much of their day attacked by thoughts of self-hatred and self-condemnation — wrong. According to our Sages, that is not remotely holy.)
And based on ancient sources, Rav Itamar Schwartz also discusses a way of speaking to Hashem:
Talking with Hashem
The first part is the fascinating idea behind talking to Hashem, but if you wish to skip down to the practical application, please scroll down to the section entitled: How to Talk to Hashem.
For further understanding, it's important to read the entire Q&A at the end, and also the last footnote.
Rav Schwartz advises starting with just 30 seconds a day and offers suggestions for what to talk about and how to do it, plus how to shift your mindset to make it all possible.
Yes, we're a very talkative generation (as Rav Schwartz explains that the time of Mashiach connects to siach — conversation — which is what many of us are experiencing).
However, the upcoming generation is increasingly limiting their conversation to the most superficial kind. If you look at a teenager's WhatsApp, for example, you'll see endless rows of "LOL!" and brief sentences of text-spelling ("how ru?" "im gr8!!") and emoticons.
Today's secular teenagers spend more time on their phones than they do at the malls. An increasing number delay getting a drivers license because sitting in their bedroom with their phone is more enticing than anywhere they could go.
However, even these mostly meaningless textspeak emoticon-laden exchanges still demonstrate a need for connection — even if it's a very superficial and kept-at-arm's-length connection.
In fact, their need for connection is so intense that they keep up these unhealthy connections even when it drives them to suicide (which occurs now more than ever before).
Needless to say, the underlying drive for this connection is really for a connection to Hashem, but the goal gets distorted along the way due to all the surrounding tumah.
So when developing a speaking relationship with Hashem, it's important to try different methods to find what works for you.
For many of us, this kind of intimate spoken connection is becoming less and less natural, so anything we do in this direction (including just 30 seconds!!!) is a tremendous accomplishment.
And it places us in an upper 1% in which we can truly take pleasure.