Q: What are hitbonenut and hitbodedut in Jewish meditation?
A: The accurate translation of hitbonenut is “in-depth meditation.” The accurate translation of hitbodedut is “experiencing the Divine in solitude.” (Rabbi Nachman of Breslov adds that in this state one should converse freely with G-d.)
Hitbonenut, contemplative meditation, elevates one to the level of histaklut, “looking” or “gazing,” and then to the high level of dvekut, “clinging to G-d.” Contemplative meditation also leads in a downward motion to “action,” via “arousal of the heart.” Thus contemplative meditation is the axis of the entire gamut of human spirituality, from action to clinging to G-d.
The state of hitbonenut should be one of “Ratzo Vashov” – to leave the body (not completely!) and to return to the body to fulfill the will of G-d, specifically in Olam Hazeh.