Tonight, the Jewish community will begin Shabbat (the Sabbath) and Rosh Chodesh (the new Hebrew month of Elul) by reflecting upon the themes of Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17; Isaiah 66:1-24) which begins with the words: “See (re’eh), I am giving before you all today blessing and curse”.
Traditional rabbinic commentary understands that the word “re’eh” to be an important part of this sentence: in front of each of us, every day, we can see placed before us the appearance of both blessings and curses. What we see and what we do with what we see will determine whether we experience it as blessing or as curse. Our attitude and perception influence our reality. Jewish tradition further requires religious Jews to recite at least 100 blessings a day. This commandment requires training one’s eyes to see opportunities for gratitude and blessing. Examples of some of reasons for blessings include: waking up, drinking water, going to the bathroom, putting on a new pair of shoes, traveling, seeing a rainbow… for more information: http://www.aish.com/jl/jewish-law/blessings/Crash-Course-in-Jewish-Blessings.html
Regardless of our religious tradition or beliefs, it is good to be reminded of the role that perception plays. Thoreau taught: “the fault-finder will find faults even in paradise, and thereby miss the joys that recognition of the positives bring.” Many of our organizational culture concepts, such as the mood elevator, managing our energy and assume positive intent are intended to help us remain positive in our outlook. When we find our mood descending into the pits of cynicism, resentment or hopelessness, we need to try to reboot ourselves so that we can return to a state of positivity, appreciation and gratitude.
One way that can help us to “be here now” and see the blessings and opportunities before us and within us, is the spiritual practice of mindfulness and meditation. Recently, our chaplains have been working with different nursing units in our hospital to help incorporate this practice into their daily huddles. Sometimes we think that meditation has to be very complex or that we need a lot of time to practice it, but this video shows how even one minute can make a huge difference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8
The mind is a muscle that we can choose to train and strengthen, so that it can positively impact our body, mood and spirit, as well as the choices we make… or that we can allow to control us… Taking time to decompress from the stress of life, and to refocus on love, gratitude, hope and compassion… this will help us to recognize blessings surrounding us wherever we look… or to find opportunities to create blessings where they appear absent. The old adage of the glass half-full or half-empty remains relevant. Or, as the book of Deuteronomy reminds us: look… before you is blessing and curse… life or death… choose life that you may live…
This coming week, let us take time to pause and practice mindfulness. Let us watch the video above on the one minute meditation and give it a try. Let us not be afraid to stop and exhale, lest we make ourselves even more overwhelmed by not allowing ourselves even a minute to pause, breathe and recharge. Let us look and see. Let us appreciate. Let us hope. Let us forgive and feel compassion. Let us create reasons for blessings when they are not immediately obvious. Let us live with intentionality… without regrets and without resentment… and if we be biased, may that bias be of love and compassion, hope and optimism… may it fuel us to bring healing to this world.