If you have ever tried it, you will know that it’s a lot harder than you would think. It seems so easy, says the Rabbi, but it requires an incredible amount of focus and patience, and even years of practice.
“Come back, again and again, to your breath,” the pleasing voice on the CD invites all who tune in the spiritual practice of mindfulness. Meditation is all about being in the moment; a constant returning to a gentle focus on what is happening right now, right here, by paying attention to the flow of the breath, in and out. There is no attempt to control or influence what is happening. We only need to notice and embrace what is.
What is surprising, however, is that no matter how hard we pay attention to the breath, our brain has a mind of its own and wanders away from the task at hand, thinking about something else-lists of things to do, worries, a funny story.
The Rabbi once taught me; it is precisely at that moment of recognition, when we notice that our mind has wandered and we return to the breath, that we are truly most awake, most present.
The Vietnamese Buddhist monk once observed to a Jewish audience,”It is my understanding that the purpose of all Jewish practice is to live every moment in the awareness of the Eternal’s presence…and that is mindfulness.”
When the Rabbi wandered into a Tibetan store he noticed a Tibetan singing bowl. These metal bowls come in various sizes and hum in a variety of pitches when you rub them with a special mallet. When he asked the woman in charge how that worked, she invited him to remove his shoes and stand inside the bowl.
She took the mallet and began banging on the sides of the bowl. His body was engulfed in vibrations. What an amazing sensation that was. In that moment the Rabbi felt so alive.
Spiritually, when we are plugged into the Divine reverberations around us, we can experience the universe vibrating within us and through us it is as if we we were standing in the middle of a gigantic, brass bowl. We just have to notice our own breath, but that the Breath of Life is breathing us in.
On the Jewish High Holy Days we are invited to immerse ourselves in that still center of open-hearted awareness. It is the time for returning to our Source, the Breath of our existence, to who we truly are, as we embrace the full potential of each moment.
Says the Rabbi, all that the Source wants is for us to be truly present to each other, to ourselves, and to the holy mystery of life. When we are able to do that, everything else will flow naturally and easily as each inhale and exhale. START BREATHING!
Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, a cancer survivor, is a motivational/inspirational speaker on the theme NEVER GIVE UP! He authored “Why Me? Why Anyone?” which chronicles his rescue from leukemia and his spiritual triumph over despair. Known as “The Running Rabbi” for competing in the NY Marathon, he received the “Award of Courage” from President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony. Rabbi Jaffe was one of the clergy who visited the American hostages in Iran to offer them comfort and hope and was asked by the President to greet them at the White House upon their return. He received an honorary Doctorate from his seminary for “his work with the sick, and his noble influence upon all people. You can find more information on his website.
Image courtesy of Sage Friedman.