If I have a pressing or embarrassing problem, it's easier for things to pour out than when I have my routine problems. (Although not always. If there's a lot fear involved, I find it very difficult.)
But then there's also the issue of concentration.
I was a dreamy child who never completely lost that tendency to tune out and start daydreaming about other things. This is sort of embarrassing when talking to the Creator of the Universe and my mind starts wandering, only for me to come around half-an-hour later and wonder where all the time went.
However, this only proves Hashem's Tremendous Compassion and Love.
Can you imagine standing before a human world leader and as you explain your petition, your face suddenly goes slack as you start to daydream standing before him or you suddenly start rambling to yourself about totally unrelated fluff?
That would be really weird.
But Hashem is okay with it as long as you're trying. He never expects you to be perfect.
It just goes to show how far I really am from real cognizance of Who Hashem really is.
But it's also a sign of how comfortable I feel with Him because at least there's recognition that He is so Forgiving and Understanding and Patient.
But how to re-orient myself?
And what about those days where it just doesn't seem to go?
To be perfectly upfront, I don't manage to do it some days, maybe just a few minutes at most. Sometimes I only manage a really geshmak talk with Hashem only on Shabbat.
So how do I get myself back on track, whether it's reining in a flighty mind or finding the quiet mental space to do it or getting back in the habit?
Well, I find that Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender's advice works best.
What Would You Say If...?
However, it's still a powerful act that reaps major reward and blessing even though you won't sense the reward and blessing at all in those "dry" phases. The "dry" talks also have an accumulative effect, meaning that they add up and often produce a welcome break-through later on.
So that's good to keep in mind when the relationship just feels dry and drab.
Secondly, Rav Bender encourages us to talk to Hashem as we would speak to a true best friend (Words of Faith, page 477):
This confession we do daily during hitbodedut should be like one who speaks to a faithful beloved friend, one who will certainly accept your words, forgive, and continue to do you good.
Think about that for a minute.
What is a faithful, beloved friend?
- One who CERTAINLY accepts your words -- no cynicism or put-downs, just all-embracing.
- One who forgives you -- as simple as that. No grudges or distrust.
- One who continues to do you good -- Complete forgiveness and good will. Love Warmth. Affection.
This is Hashem, the Best Friend you'll ever have.
How to Bumble Your Way to Self-Improvement
Other times, I just say, "Okay, Hashem. You're my One True Good Friend" and then I start talking to him from there.
Recently, I heard of a tzaddik who always started off talking to Hashem by saying "Hakadosh Baruch Hu, Yitbarach Shimcha" -- "The Holy One Blessed Be He, Blessed is Your Name" -- and this is a great way to orient yourself. It's very important to praise Hashem before you say anything else, so whether you're giving God a thumbs-up and saying "You, my One True BFF" or "Hakadosh Baruch Hu, Yitbarach Shimcha," it's really good.
And although Rav Bender idealizes talking to Hashem for hours all day long, he still heaps praises on the act of talking to Hashem for only 5 minutes.
Anything you can do is very powerful and affects both you and the whole world positively.
My Life: The Garden of Bumbling
(And I have no 6-8 hours hitbodedut marathons to speak of, but I'm still hoping...)
There are other people who are doing things much better and you have a lot more to learn from them.
However, I did want to give encouragement to any other people who also tend to bumble through lofty spiritual acts or get distracted easily or aren't consistent, or whatever flaws you're struggling against.
It's okay to bumble!
Despite everything, I still feel like I've gained a tremendous amount from my clumsy, bumbling, inconsistent efforts.
So please don't be discouraged by whatever character flaws or obstacles or embarrassing tendencies you may have.
As a fellow bumbler, I'm telling you that it's very, very worth it. You still get things out of it that you'd never imagine otherwise.
Hashem really is your Forgiving, Understanding, Warm, Generous, Loving Best Friend.