by Reb Aharon Rubin, from Eye to the Infinite, shared with permission.
Wheels within Wheels
Prayer is a ladder to heaven. It spans all the worlds, its feet in the physical and its head touching the Ineffable, the Ein Sof. Like a ladder, it needs climbing gradually, rung by rung. Elijah the Prophet recorded three transcendental rungs, the ‘wind’, the ‘noise’ or ‘static’ and the ‘fire’ stage, before arriving at the quiet, still Voice. These correspond to the spiritual worlds, Assiyoh, Yetsiroh, Bri’oh and Atsiluth. We follow this order in the four parts of our morning prayers: from the beginning until Pesukei D’Zimroh (verses of praise), the Pesukei D’Zimroh, the Shema and its blessings and, finally, the ultimate level, the Sh’moneh Esreh, the plateau of silent deveikuth, cleaving to G-d.
Shach’rith, the Morning Prayer, sets the spiritual level for the entire day. We begin at the ‘wind’ stage, Assiyoh – the World of Action, the initiation state and launching pad of the human condition. Here is where you ‘tune in’. Your mind may be unfocused; you may have to extend mental energy to concentrate but your effort will be well rewarded. Through those extra minutes of concentration and contemplation, you are taking firm hold of the ‘prayer-ladder’, placing your feet squarely on its rungs. Each level needs to be trodden deliberately; each word said with full intent. By so doing, you will properly ascend, reaching the next stage, a higher universe.
After the ‘wind’ stage, comes the ‘noise’ stage, the angelic realm called Olam HaYetsiroh, the World of Formation. This you enter when you start to recite the “verses of praise”. Here you may experience ‘static’. Like flying through clouds and mist, your vision may be foggy. This is mental turbulence, due to forces created by your deeds and the vibrational energies they attract, or the general spiritual atmosphere.
Use the psalms to clear the air. It is here that you build your ‘prayer-muscles’. Develop your focus on G-d. Through disregarding extraneous thoughts, fixing on the words and thinking on G-d, you create a laser-like focus. With love and awe of G-d, you can now spread your wings, soar upwards and pierce the heavens.
As your emotions become charged, your soul reveals its yearning for G-d. Its fire propels you forward. This fire-experience is the third stage, the Soul Realm, Olam HaBri’oh, the World of Creation. Here you say the Shema, arguably the most important of all prayers, crowning G-d over all creation. You realise the entire world to be one with G-d. There is nothing besides Him. Emotionally and mentally, bind yourself to the Creator. Long to cleave to Him, entirely.
Through this mind-set, you now enter Atsiluth, the World of Nearness and Emanation, the mystical still embrace of the soul with its Beloved, the silent Sh’moneh Esreh, where G-d unites with the soul’s rapturous soliloquy.
G-d is now very close. The Zohar describes Him as resting between your lips. There is a oneness of the supplicant with the Creator. At this point, you are the ladder of prayer. It is not external. You bridge heaven and earth.
(Notice the order of ascent follows the levels within the soul; from the outer yetser horo until the inner neshomoh. In prayer, we traverse our soul. Only through connecting with our divine soul, can we speak directly to G-d.)
After finishing your prayers, spend some time learning Torah. Alternatively, do one of the meditations described in this book. Trust G-d to give you a good day ahead. Say a personal prayer. Even just sitting, contemplating, rather than rushing away, will help you absorb the effects of your prayers.
The methods outlined in this chapter will help you stand before G-d, to pray from the deepest recesses of your heart where no falsehood exists, making your prayers inestimably more powerful. Through you, spiritual influx will manifest in all the worlds. As a king takes care of his courtiers, as a father gives lovingly to his own child, so the King of kings, your Father in Heaven, will fulfil your requests, even before they are expressed.
 See Genesis 28:12, Ba’al HaTurim and Zera Qodesh ad loc., Zohar I 149b and hashmototh (appendixes) 50 (266b), Torah Ohr 88a, Liqutei Torah (Lubavitch), Beshalach 2b.
 I Kings 19:11. Also Ezekiel 1, Sefer Yetsiroh 1:6 or 2:1. See Tiqunei Zohar, 3b.
 Tiqunei Zohar, 45a.
 Tsavo’ath HoRivosh. Yosher Divrei Emeth.