Although this was posted once before, reading it again can really have an impact. Enjoy!
This was an e mail sent by B'yachad. I think its soooo cool if you read it with your heart, and an open mind, you can learn some great new ideas!! In what way can we grow that we actually can feel a real change inside ourselves??
AWARENESS is the key. It’s the first step to create balance in your life. When you are aware of what’s going on, where you are, what you are doing, and what you are thinking, it is only then that you have more freedom to choose. Making wise choices depends on how much awareness you bring to the moment.
Rav Shimshon David Pincus explains: Pretend it’s Rosh HaShana (the New Year). What do we do? The VERY FIRST thing to do is to KNOW that today is Rosh HaShana. We must be aware that it’s a special day.
Let’s say a Jew is driving on the highway. He realizes that the sun will set soon and he didn’t pray Mincha yet. He pulls over, gets out of the car, and prays Mincha. Of course, it’s very noisy with all the cars passing by. It wasn’t his greatest prayer because of the distraction around him, but he figures that tomorrow he can pray another Mincha and it will be better than today’s.
Now pretend it’s Yom Kippur. This same Jew is in a synagogue. It’s time for Mincha. He’s been there all day, fasting and praying. He’s very weak and tired. He says, “Well, if I don’t pray well during Mincha, I’ll have another chance tomorrow.” Does this make sense to you? NOOOOO!!! Why? Because today is Yom Kippur. The power and essence of this day atones for all the mistakes he made throughout the whole year. A prayer on Yom Kippur is VERY different from a prayer on every other day of the year. If he is aware of this, he can make a good choice and pull his strength together and pray to Hashem from the bottom of his heart, with as much effort and concentration as possible. If he doesn’t know this, then he loses out big time!!!!
When you have awareness, you will be amazed at how much you can change the quality of your life. How much of the time in your day are you fully present? For example, when you eat, how much of the time are you really there, with your attention on eating? And how much of the time is your mind wandering to past memories, present worries, and future dreams? Are you tasting the flavors of the food and chewing intently and enjoying the aroma of the food? Are you thinking about eating in order to nourish the body and be healthy to do the mitzvot (commandments)? Do you realize what a gift it is to eat and enjoy the food??? All Hashem asks is say thank you not mumble it so under your breathe that you dont even know if you said it or not!! Maybe once a week you could just take a bencher and read it in English. You will see what you are really saying and feel so much luckier abt how much you have!!!
When you sleep, how much of your energy is being given to the problems of the day and worries of how things will work out? And how much of your energy is directed at experiencing a deep, restful sleep and recharging the whole system so that you can be healthy to do mitzvot and get closer to Hashem?
When you have a conversation with someone, are you maintaining eye contact and listening to them and trying to understand them? Or are you thinking of what you’re going to say next? Are your eyes wandering to what’s going on around you? Are you fully present?
We are out of balance because we are not awake. We’re not there. Increasing awareness can help us get back in balance (emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically).
Unfortunately, many people in this world are on autopilot. They are not thinking. They are not seeing. They do the same things every day, a routine, and they don’t include thought in it anymore. It’s automatic. Is this life? Can we call that “living”? If you want to feel alive and happy and like there is meaning in every second of every day, then AWARENESS is the key.
Be present in your life. This is called mindfulness.
In certain divisions of Hewlett-Packard, after going through training sessions of how to stay mindful, they started doing things to help wake themselves up. For example, some people made a screen saver which would say, “Wake up!” or “Breathe…Smile…Relax” in bright colors. One person found a “WHOA!” sign and put it in the corridor so that when employees pass by, they would see it and remember to slow down and find their balance. Some people set their watch to beep every hour. When it beeps, it reminds them to wake up and be mindful.
The first step is awareness---to know where you mind is going. Where are you directing your energy? Without knowing this, you cannot redirect your energy and focus to something else because you have no clue that you need to!!!
Rabbi Yissocher Frand teaches that during the times of the first Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple), the people also did things by rote. Bringing sacrifices became a habit. This was the challenge of that generation.
When bringing a sacrifice to Hashem, so much thought and emotion is involved. If someone brings a sacrifice to atone for his mistakes, then he is supposed to look at the animal being slaughtered and burned on the Mizbeyach (Altar). He is supposed to feel that it should have been him, but it’s happening to the animal instead. He is supposed to do teshuva (return to Hashem) and work on himself to be better. If he brings a sacrifice to show thankfulness to Hashem, then he has to recognize the great kindness that Hashem did for him and truly appreciate it. Basically, their mind has to be there. They have to be focused. It is not a time to space out. At the time of the 1st Beit HaMikdash, the people bought the animal, brought it to the Kohen, and told him to sacrifice it. It became a habit. They left the intent and thought out of it. And what was Hashem’s reaction? “Of what use are your many sacrifices to Me?” says Hashem. “I am sated with the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle; and the blood of bulls and sheep and hegoats I do not want.” (Yeshayahu 1:11) There was no spirituality involved, so Hashem didn’t want such offerings. There was no thought, no feeling.
Hashem wants us to LIVE. When you’re saying a blessing, are you really there saying a blessing? Where are you when you’re talking to a friend? Where are you when you’re watering your plants? How about when you’re cleaning for Shabbat? What about when you’re walking down the street? You are where your mind is. So the question is: WHERE IS YOUR MIND? Bring it to the present moment and LIVE.