An Embodied Blessing Practice for After You Eat

(י) וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ...

(10) When you eat and are satisfied, you will bless יהוה your divinity...

Does the above passage sound familiar? We encounter it in Birkat HaMazon, the blessing after meals. And thanks to Hebrew’s incredible system of roots, the third word is particularly interesting: וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ (uverachta: "you will bless") comes from the root ב-ר-כ, which is the same root we find in בֶּרֶך (berech), the Hebrew word for "knee". So blessings and knees are related — an idea we might never think of in English, but one that comes up often in Hebrew because of how Hebrew roots function.

If you think about it, this connection between blessings and knees makes sense: Offering a blessing is a lot like bending our knees, bringing our bodies a little closer to the ground and recognizing that there’s something bigger than us. Whether we refer to that something as יהוה, "divinity", or another name, we can honor it with blessings.

With this as inspiration, I've created an embodied blessing practice you can do after eating and feeling satisfied.

1. Start in a comfortable seated position on the ground, or modify by sitting in a chair.

2. Place your hands on your knees and feel the connection to this place of blessing.

3. Inhale and bring your hands to your lips in prayer. This movement corresponds to וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ (v'achalta: "you shall eat").

4. Exhale and extend your arms out, arching your back. This movement corresponds to וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ (v'savata: "you shall be satisfied").

5. Inhale and bring your hands to your knees, curving your spine and bringing your chin towards your chest. This movement corresponds to וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ (uverachta: "you shall bless").*

6. Exhale and straighten your spine, feeling your body in this divine place of blessing.

7. Repeat steps 3-6 as many times as you would like.

*Movement #5 also relates to a reminder that follows this verse in Deuteronomy: Having been satisfied, one must not רָ֖ם לְבָבֶ֑ךָ (ram l'vavecha) and forget the divine. This phrase literally means "lift your heart", which the 13th century Torah commentator Chizkuni connects to the idea of feeling superior:

(א) ורם לבבך ושכחת וכתיב לעיל השמר לך פן תשכח אזהרה מכאן לגסי הרוח.

(1) ורם לבבך ושכחת, “and your heart feels superior, as a result of which you will forget” [the divine]...

Thus, while the movement for וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ (v'savata) is expansive and satisfying, the movement for וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ (uverachta) brings us back to a place of humility. We embody humility not only by touching our knees, the ultimate symbol of bending in gratitude, but also by curving our spines and gazing down.

Finally, we straighten back to a neutral spine and rest with our hands on our knees, letting our body sit with the divinity of both expansion and humility as we give thanks for eating and being satisfied.