There’s something about really bad weather (like blizzards) that are so freeing. No matter what your plans are, your meetings and appointments, if you can’t get out of the driveway, you have to stay put. You are forced to “stay.” You can’t will yourself forward when the Big Snow says, “I don’t think so.” (I still remember the great 1967 snowstorm of Chicago where the snow drifts were higher than the doorways and so, really, there was no escape J)
While external events like weather, births and deaths stop our regular activity in our tracks, it’s the decisions we make every day to just “stop” and “stay” that add up to a mindful way of life.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the recent issue of Mindful Magazine says that mindfulness is not a technique: “It’s a way of being.”
He also believes that mindfulness is a not a fad that will pass away quickly. It’s much bigger and deeper than that. He writes, “If there’s an instruction manual for being human, then western science and medicine have supplied one part of it, and the contemplative traditions have supplied another, the part that has to do with discovering and cultivating our deep interior resources.”
Take a journey into our deep interior is a profound and sacred practice. And it’s something we Jews have been doing for centuries.
Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg, in an article that arrived at my doorstep the same day as Mindful Magazine, writes about teaching Jewish meditation and mindfulness: “For Jews, spirituality is cultivated through practices that we share with our people in time and space….When we sit in stillness and in silence something amazing happens. We recognize that there is no stillness and there is no silence. We are actually part of an infinite living organism…As the Chasidim understood, M’lo kol Haaretz k’vodo, we are part of God as God is part of us. When we cultivate our awareness, we develop a place to rest in the midst of all the change. It is a seat of safety. It is a point of connection. It is a place of freedom and unlimited possibility…”
Mindfulness is about developing the ability to be with what is, breathing into the moment, and cultivating the immense life-changing understanding that everything changes. Learning to “stay” (as the Buddhist nun Pema Chadron teaches) in whatever place you are is huge. We learn about our interior selves – both our resources and our stories.
Even if the snow doesn’t keep you in, take some time every day to “stay in” even if it is 5 minutes to follow your breath and be with yourself, without judgment. Your own “snow day.”
(PS – Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg along with Rabbi Myriam Klotz is coming to teach a one-day retreat on Jewish Meditation and Yoga and mindfulness on Jan 18 in Los Angeles. Click here for more information: http://tinyurl.com/komaogw)