We came to Jewish mindfulness for different reasons but have both grown from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) and the practices it teaches: meditation, contemplative prayer, text study, chanting, and tikkun middot—cultivating character traits, like gratitude, patience, and trust.
Terry: When I began practicing Jewish mindfulness my ambitions were small. I wanted to be less anxious and more peaceful. Ten years later, I’m surprised at how mindfulness has expanded my sense of gratitude and allowed me to explore who I am and what matters to me. My practice enables me to discern how I can better serve the world. Although I still struggle with the idea of God, I am learning to “know” God, whether it’s being in the mountains in wonder of the beauty or in the love I feel for my grandchildren. I joined the IJS board because I wanted to help an organization whose mission is to transform Jewish life through spiritual practice. It’s been a joy to bring IJS offerings to TBE.
Firkins: I’ve been interested in meditation since my twenties when I practiced at a Zen Center. The reasons I first came to meditation still hold: I want to take a clear-eyed look at things. Who am I when the noise quiets? What matters most? It ended up Buddhism wasn’t the religion to build my life around and, when I converted to Judaism, I believed I’d just meditate on my own. Discovering IJS has been a game-changer. I engage in learning that’s always mattered to me, and I do it Jewishly, in community. The practices IJS teaches ground me. I’m more patient, less reactive. More present to those I love. My Judaism feels richer. I’m glad others at TBE are exploring this work.