Mindfulness supports us both in deepening our understanding of our own strengths and in uncovering an inner strength we may not previously have been aware of. Mindfulness strengthens our compassion for others and for ourselves, helping us to feel closer to our community and enhancing our self-love, both of which strengthen our ability to cope with loss, grief or sadness.
Mindfulness techniques for stress reduction are taught world-wide, and many clinical studies have shown that mindfulness contributes to a significant reduction in symptoms of stress. As well as cultivating a sense of well-being, mindfulness has been shown to improve the immune system response and speed the body’s healing process.
Many of us find our lives so busy that we lose our natural ability to read our body, moods and thoughts. We literally lose ourselves in the frenetic nature of modern life. Mindfulness teaches us how to attend to each moment, thought and action. We learn to tune out the noise, and to identify the messages our body, mind and spirit are sending. When we hear these messages more clearly, we understand intuitively what our needs are, and how to achieve greater well-being. We learn to include mindful moments in our day, and find that greater self-awareness helps us in all aspects of our lives.
Mindfulness teaches us to attend to each moment. Judaism teaches us to see the Divine in every aspect of creation. The teachings of mindfulness and of Judaism support each other profoundly.
Bringing mindfulness to Jewish prayer and Jewish rituals helps us see beyond the ritual: into the divine, transcendent and embodied beauty of Judaism.
For many of us, giving mindful attention to our Jewish practice is new and eye-opening. Where before we may have rushed through prayers in order to reach the soup and kneidlach, we are now struck by the deep spiritual truths and reverence for the mystery of Creation which permeate even our prayers and rituals.
Trauma of one form or another is unfortunately familiar in the modern world. The horrors of the Holocaust and of war are still in living memory. International tragedies occur all too regularly. We are all touched by challenges and difficulties.
Mindfulness practice can create space in our minds and in our souls, which can gently enable us to recover and heal. Serious trauma needs to be addressed by medical professionals, but many will suggest incorporating a gentle healing practice such as mindfulness in the path to recovery, in appropriate and timely ways.
Judaism teaches that the world is built on loving-kindness (Psalm 89), and that God is filled with loving-kindness towards all Creation (Exodus 34.6).
Mindfulness helps us grow our own capacity for loving-kindness – to ourselves, to others, to our world and – should we be divinely inclined – to the Divine. As we increase our own capacity for loving-kindness, we find ourselves inspiring others to grow their own loving-kindness as well. It is in this way that loving-kindness heals the world.