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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Mindful Meditation from a Jewish Perspective

Dec 01, 2010 02:00AM ● By Lynda Hope Dresher

As we cover our eyes to chant the Jewish Sh’ma blessing, we experience our oneness with the divine in that moment. The Hebrew letter shin is the first letter of the word Sh’ma. It begins the central prayer of Judaism: Hear, O’Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is One.

When we pray, we communicate with the divine. We pray for peace, for health, to heal our hearts and souls. We must be fully awake in the process to also hear what God’s will is for us. To hear (Sh’ma) our deeper purpose, we must have an awakened heart.

Sh’ma also means, “pay attention.” Paying attention is crucial in today’s busy world. How many times do we feel distracted, unable to focus when others talk to us? Mindful meditation helps quiet the mind so that we can fully enjoy each moment in a balanced and calm state. Our lives become filled with happiness, gratitude and a deeper purpose.

Mindful meditation is similar to being on vacation. When we are away from our everyday routines, we see things anew. We have no worries, no time restrictions and no distractions. We accept the moment for what it is. Focusing our attention on every detail of our adventure, we feel fully alive in the moment. We experience a sense of awe.

During classes in Mindful Meditation, we focus our attention on our breath, to every inhalation and exhalation. Our “in” breath is God’s “out” breath. As simple as this sounds, it presents a central question: “Are we breathing or are we being breathed?”

With prayer, as with meditation, we are fully engaged in being present. In that place of being, our hearts break open with love and compassion for all people. There is an awakened clarity that, “God is in this place and I know it.” We are then compelled to help repair the brokenness of the world.

Give yourself the gift of the present!


Cantor Lynda Hope Dresher serves Congregation B’nai Torah, in Highland Park. She also instructs Mindful Meditation every third week of the month at the synagogue. For more information, visit
BnaiTorahHighlandPark.org. Search online for “Lynda Dresher” to view YouTube prayer videos.