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 several 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, each thought, each action. We learn to tune out the noise, and to identify the messages our body, mind and spirit are sending us. When we hear these messages without the background noise, we understand intuitively what our needs are, and how to achieve greater well-being. We learn to include these mindful moments in our lives 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 neatly, effortlessly.
Bringing mindfulness to Jewish prayer and Jewish rituals helps us see beyond the ritual to the divine and transcendent beauty of Judaism.
For many of us, giving mindful attention to our Jewish practice is new and eye-opening. Where before we rushed through prayers in order to reach the chicken soup and kneidlach, we are now struck by the deep spiritual truths and reverence for the mystery of Creation and the transcendent held in even our most familiar prayers and rituals.
Trauma of one form or another is all too familiar in the modern world. The horrors of the Holocaust and of several wars are still in living memory. International tragedies seem to arrive on a daily basis, and it is a rare individual who is not touched by one or more of the many experiences which can induce a trauma response in our minds.
Mindfulness practice can create space in our minds and in our souls, which can gently enable us to recover and heal ourselves and the people around us. Serious traumas remain best addressed by medical professionals, but many will suggest incorporating a gentle healing mindful practise as part of a recovery plan.
Judaism teaches that the world is built on loving-kindness (Psalm 89), and that God is filled with loving-kindness towards all his 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 religiously 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.