Daily Lift – contributed by Aryeh Feingold

Viktor Frankl’s approach to ‘Mindfulness’ is summarised in one quote from his book, Man’s Search for Meaning:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

‘Mindfulness’ (that is, learning to stay focused in the present moment)  is at the core of positive psychology and behavioural medicine today . There is scientific evidence that is clear that such training is effective not only in reducing harmful emotions like anger and fear, but also in strengthening the body—by lowering blood pressure and heart-rate, for example. In this regard, it’s fascinating to learn that Maimonides addressed this topic in his influential Guide of the Perplexed (volume 1, chapter 60): “If we pray with the motion of our lips and our face toward the wall, but simultaneously think of business; if we read the Torah with our tongue while our heart is occupied with the building of our house, and we do not think of what we are reading; if we perform the commandments only with our limbs; then we are like those who are engaged in digging the ground or hewing wood in the forest without reflecting on the nature of those acts, or by whom they are commanded, or what is their purpose.”

Indeed, Maimonides attributed so much importance to mindfulness for establishing a healthful lifestyle that he even provided specific advice on how his fellow Jews could cultivate this trait: “The first thing you must do is turn your thoughts away from everything while you say the Shema or other daily prayers. Do not content yourself with being pious when you read merely the first verse of Shema or the first paragraph of the Amidah prayer. When you have successfully practiced this for many years, try when reading or listening to the Torah to have all your heart and thoughts occupied with understanding what you read or hear… After some time, when you have mastered this, accustom yourself to have your mind free from all other thoughts when you read any portion of the other books of the prophets, or when you say any blessing…direct your mind exclusively to what you are doing.”

Please step up to the plate and contribute your own small nugget of Torah by sending back to me at terence@speedquote.net.

These daily lifts are inspired by Jonny Chippeck and dedicated to his ‘refuah shleimah’. Get well soon Jonny!

The more people we have contributing, the higher this daily lift will get.  Keep them coming.

 

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