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Slow Down

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

It’s holiday time. For some this hails stressful days of unstructured time. For others this may be an opportunity to travel and immerse in G-d’s miraculous world. For everyone it ought to be a time to slow-down and find even a day or two to re-energize. Consider, this holiday, the importance of mindfulness. Take some time – even a few minutes a day – to cultivate mindfulness and to find ways to incorporate mindful living into the day-to-day of the year ahead.

Here’s an excerpt of what Frumma Rosenberg-Gottlieb has to say on the matter: (Full article here.)

...The fast pace of modern living is prompted by the desire—and the ability, thanks to technology—to be more efficient and effective. But it turns around and bites us. According to the Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, rushing is the close ally of the yetzer hara (our negative, self-sabotaging inclination). Rushing impels us to react from our animal soul (the limbic system) rather than our higher self (the altruistic, optimistic, G‑d-focused mind). It’s an astute observation, rendered all the more potent when we consider that the Ramchal lived in 18th-century Europe. Imagine what “rushing” was to him, cruising the canals of Italy on a gondola and telling time from a sundial! It doesn’t take much imagination, however, to understand what rushing means to us today. Many of us feel as though we are constantly under pressure. Whether the pressure is real or imagined, our health suffers, and our thinking becomes reactive and confused. We become far less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices, like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating well. Nor are we likely to deal with our problems or with the needs of our loved ones in a calm and elevated fashion.

How is it possible to survive, let alone thrive, in the midst of this sense of constant pressure? To gain access to our own abilities, to activate the best of ourselves rather than act from our least functional, habitual patterns of response, we first need to alter our perception and our perspective. Meditation—or perhaps mindfulness exercises that may not look like “meditation” per se—can put us on that path.

As observers of the world in which we live, we are each like a carefully crafted camera. By adjusting the focus, we can see things more clearly. By changing the lens, we can choose to see the world from a broader point of view, or zoom in from afar to examine minute details. With certain filters it is even possible to see dimensions of “what is” that are ordinarily invisible to the naked eye. It is possible to view the same objects, relationships, choices, or challenges either more clearly, or from a different perspective, or with higher definition and better resolution, when we adjust our instrument of observation. Meditation can help make those adjustments in our minds, our hearts, our nervous and endocrine systems, our emotions, our thoughts, and ultimately our souls. Meditation can be like a powerful telephoto lens that brings us closer to that which previously appeared distant and unknowable; by the same token, it can function like a wide-angle lens that affords us the perspective to see the cosmic connections in our universe...

The author then gives a few suggestions for cultivating mindfulness.

These include:

▪ Reading a prayer and allowing its meaning to permeate the consciousness ▪ Nurturing the mind with trusting, positive thoughts ▪ Focusing on a healthy diet, sufficient sleep and regular exercise. (“A small hole in the body causes a large hole in the soul.” -The Maggid of Mezritch) ▪ Addressing clutter. Torah literature describes a well-ordered environment as a balm to the soul.

Click here for her thoughts on the above mentioned pointers.

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