Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Mindfulness: Disconnect to Connect

Ahuva Sofer

Imagine a world without computers. Without cell phones and social media. Does that sound deliciously wonderful or woefully awful?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

 Mishpacha image

Photo: Shutterstock

L et’s take a quick journey into the past. Imagine a world without computers. Without cell phones and social media. Imagine waking up on your farm in the early morning hours, to feed the chickens in the shadow of the sunrise’s rays. Does that sound deliciously wonderful or woefully awful?

Whether you would or wouldn’t choose to live in the past, I’m sure you’ll admit there are disadvantages and advantages of living in any time period. And, there definitely are some disadvantages of living in today’s modern world of cyberspace. Like, constant noise. Dizzying speed. Never stopping for a minute. Always racing against the clock. Checking to see if we got any new messages on our handy, dandy phones every few seconds — not very conducive to careful contemplation or quiet meditation.

But the winter months, when we spend more time indoors with family and friends, is the perfect season for careful self-introspection. This calls for us to stop, think, and examine our present realities. It is a time to tune in to our inner beings and discover our truer selves. In our society, it is so easy to keep on racing without ever stopping to think about ourselves and our lives. So how can we learn to tune in to our inner reality?

This is where the concept of mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is about learning the art of self-directed focus. It’s about opting out of the race that makes up our busy lives, to tune into ourselves. It’s about disconnecting from the hurried, outer world of action to connect to our inner selves. Learning to become mindful is about learning to center our attention on ourselves at the present moment, on fully contemplating and appreciating our unique human experience as it is right now. Practicing mindfulness is about being in tune with the flow of our thoughts and feelings, and becoming more self-aware individuals.

Mindfulness has been practiced for generations and adapted to many cultures, and is a holistic approach to physical, emotional, and psychological healing. Learning how to live mindfully is known to improve oxygen flow throughout the body, create a calmer and more focused individual, and stimulate mental, emotional, and physical health. It also increases joy, appreciation for life, and self-awareness. Sound too good to be true?

Though we are sadly entrenched in a cyberspace culture, this concept shouldn’t be all that foreign to us — living a Jewish life definitely encourages mindful living. In fact, chassidim of yesteryear used to prepare for tefillah by spending an hour in deep thought. Making brachos helps us stop to appreciate the world around us. We are taught to concentrate intently on the words of tefillah. We are given the gift of Shabbos, which helps us halt all mundane activities of the workweek, and consider our obligations as Jews. In a way, Yiddishkeit is all about being mindful; a Jewish way of life encourages us to constantly engage in self-introspection (cheshbon hanefesh), to constantly consider and reconsider our obligations and purpose in This World.

What other means are there of becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings and more appreciative of the world around us? Here are some activities you can put into practice every day to increase mindfulness.

Related Stories

History Highlights: Olden-Day Pressburg, Modern Bratislava

Rabbi Meir Goldberg

In History Highlights this week, we take you to the city of Bratislava, once called Pressburg, in th...

Incredible Ways

Henya Rochel Weingarten

Isn’t it incredible the way things work out sometimes? I keep pinching myself to make sure it’s real...

The Hazards and Hilarity of Teenhood: When My Married Sister Moved In

Malka Hillelsohn

Sometimes, even when you can’t change things, there are ways to help you cope with what you can’t ch...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Not a Newspaper
Shoshana Friedman A deeper difference between newspapers and magazines
Services in Shards
Rabbi Moshe Grylak “Such a painful, malicious lie!”
The Pittsburgh Protests: All Politics All the Time
Yonoson Rosenblum The old rule — “no enemies on the left” — still applies
Danger: School Crossing
Eytan Kobre The hypocrisy of YAFFED’s assertion is breathtaking
Real Laughter and Real Tears
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger The two sides of a life lived with emunah
Work/Life Solutions with Eli Langer
Moe Mernick I was proud to be “that guy with the yarmulke”
Is Ktchong! a Mitzvah? When Prayer and Charity Collide
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman These cannot both be done effectively at the same time
An Honest Shidduch
Jacob L. Freedman “Baruch Hashem I’m cured, and this will be my secret”
A Blessing in Disguise
Riki Goldstein “I never thought the song would catch on as it has”
Ishay and Motti Strike a Common Chord
Riki Goldstein Bringing together two worlds of Jewish music
What’s your favorite Motzaei Shabbos niggun?
Riki Goldstein From the holy and separate back to the mundane
Rightfully Mine
Faigy Peritzman Don’t regret the job you didn’t land; it was never yours
Growing Greener Grass
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Nurture your blessings and watch them blossom
My Way or the High Way
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt We know what we want — but do we know what He wants?