By Jo Strausz Rosen

At JSL Fleischman Residence, the Life Enrichment Coordinators, and volunteer practitioners of reiki, mindfulness and meditation have been bringing peaceful moments to the residents for many years often utilizing music and the spoken word.  

Millions of people claim meditation, otherwise known as “sitting still and thinking about nothing,” can be as simple as it is surprisingly hard. Why is it hard? When we practice shutting out the noise in our brains, we begin to notice all the thoughts that weigh us down, worry us, take us out of the present and send us down a rabbit hole of worry.  If we can quiet our brains, we can connect to the source of our energy, guidance and spirituality. I like to think this source is Gd. 

Taking the time to meditate creates a habit which builds a longing for it and if we can do this, our lives can change – allowing for more connection to ourselves. Meditation lowers blood pressure and raises our “vibrational frequency.” It relaxes us, relieves our stress, strengthens our intuition and our ability to focus. Meditation allows us time to hear our inner voices more clearly and this can fill us with peace, love and light, putting us in a good mood, helping us to love ourselves and each other. Sounds simple but it takes some time to get it right. 

I believe in it. Imagine if we all could simply focus on our breathing and gently release negative or unproductive thoughts. We can clear our minds and listen to our intuition. That’s all this is. If we do this in the morning when we have less distraction it begins our days with positivity.  

We can set a timer, then focus with a mantra or on our breathing. My friend Jackie taught me to repeat the phrase, “Breath in my friend, breathe out,” as a way to gently fall asleep at night. “Breath in my friend, breathe out.” It’s as if I am befriending myself and rocking myself to sleep. It’s the same with meditating. The use of a mantra guides us.  My mantra, the one I was given in 1971, has now evolved into the words, “Thank you.”  These words consciously spoken out loud or in my head while breathing bring peace to me. And I am thanking The Almighty One. And I feel blessings when I can achieve this mindfulness. 

Chanting is not just for Torah and is a great way to get into a meditative state. Repeating a mantra over and over in my head for twenty minutes twice daily has produced some deeply profound experiences. But other times, my mind swims with distracting thoughts and ideas. It’s important to continue to try. I seek the meditation zone to push away my addiction to the digital world. It’s a much-needed respite from the world we live in. There are many helpful books, classes and cellphone apps such as Headspace, Breethe, InsightTimer and Calm, many of which are inexpensive or free. Also check out the Vedic Meditation podcast by Jeff Kober. His book, Embracing Bliss: 108 Daily Meditations, seems like a wonderful way to bring calm into our lives.  However we decide to access our higher selves in the process of seeking peace and wisdom, meditation improves our lives and our communities at JSL. 

Join me.

Shabbat Shalom.

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