web analytics
July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Ruminations on Meditation

Many great Jewish thinkers have described Jewish prayer as a form of meditation.
meditation

Meditation was once an oddity reserved for spiritual extremists. Today, meditation is as American as apple pie.

There are many good reasons to do meditation. The NY Times enumerates several of the benefits that have been demonstrated by science. Improved leadership and productivity can be attributed to meditation.

Meditation has a place in Judaism as well. Many great Jewish thinkers have described Jewish prayer as a form of meditation. The prophets of yore achieved their heightened spiritual state after intense meditation. There are pious chasidic men (and maybe some women) who meditate alone in the Jerusalem Forest on a regular basis. For us, meditation is a word to describe an activity whose end is to achieve some state of nirvana. It could even be argued that making blessings before eating food or enjoying any other physical pleasure is a variation of mindfulness.

The NY Times reports that there is a reason that Buddha favored meditation. Buddha’s teachings were to end suffering. Meditation was intended to serve as a way of freeing one’s mind of the negative thoughts we have about others. The idea was to bring people together through the heightened state of awareness.

This is a lofty claim and it was put to the test by the author of the NY Times article, profesor of psychology Dr. David DeSteno. He and his lab conducted controlled experiments to determine if meditation had an impact on empathy and compassion.

The results? Incredibly, or maybe not, meditation actually helped a significant portion of test subjects feel empathetic. It works!

DeSteno concludes that while the fringe benefits are great, when one meditates one should be mindful of its original purpose. Hopefully if we can channel that power we can alleviate the pain of division and hate.

I can think of no message more appropriate for Rosh Chodesh Av. This time of year we are exhorted to work on our interpersonal skills. Perhaps it would be wise to spend some time in meditation to give ourselves an assist on this seasonal challenge.

The article also got me thinking about doing Mitzvos to reap the social benefits of the act or even to reap an alternative benefit that was certainly unintended. Sometimes people lament the new-agey interpretations of Mitzvos and modern understandings of their social benefits. True, it can feel uncomfortable, but I think it’s noteworthy that we find similar hand wringing with regard to meditation. DeSteno is a bit uncomfortable with using meditation to get ahead instead of using it to unite. I think we can relate to that.

Finally, one can imagine how vindicated followers of Buddha must feel. As orthodox Jews, we feel the same way some our traditions and teachings are corroborated by modern discoveries. I know I love when that happens, so I am sure the study mentioned in this article will bring similar feelings of euphoria to students of Buddha.

About the Author: Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at finkorswim.com. Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

2 Responses to “Ruminations on Meditation”

  1. The meditation that was practiced by the Chassidic Masters is as distinct from today's pseudo-meditation as popularized in SoCal as the Red Velvet of a Bishop's robe is from a red velvet cupcake sold in your neighborhood grocery.

    If one in a hundred can achieve a state of excluding outside influences during his or her prayers, that's a lot. Before one can meditate on the t'philot, one must understand them. That should be the primary goal, not some unattainable state of pseud-bliss.

  2. I've heard listening to certain kinds of music can help. This one's jazzy and soothing. It's actually called "Peace of Mind," and seems to be about trying to attain that elusive state.
    http://biffthuringer.bandcamp.com/track/peace-of-mind

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
cease fire!
Ceasefire Talks Again
Latest Blogs Stories
The 32

These are the photos of our soldiers (and a citizen) killed in action during the current IDF ground operation in Gaza.

Happy soldiers with pizza

Jameel went on a pizza run down south, and translated a letter from a soldier on the border, along with some of his own personal observations…

Rabbi Meir Kahane at the National Press Club ~ 1985

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

.Into Gaza!

Her message to her soldier son on the battlefield: “Complete the Mission! Sayyem et HaMissimah!”

JoeSettler contemplated some new El Al slogans like: “El Al – Our pilots are trained in evasive maneuvers”…. Let’s hear your new El Al Slogans…

IDF volunteers come to Israel just to serve are the true idealists; Sean Carmeli was one of them.

And he whispers one last time, I love you mother.

It’s absurd, in this war places like Ariel and Shiloh are among the safest in the State of Israel.

Why aren’t American Jews coming s to Israel for the summer; Are they scared because of the war?

If you are lloking to buy socks, this store is NOT where to go! B”H

Ruthie Blum reveals just how hard it is for a Jewish mother to be a patriot at the time of war. Maternal cognitive dissonance On Thursday night, after 10 days of aerial warfare between Hamas terrorists and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a ground incursion into Gaza. It was a move that much of […]

JoeSettler takes on the IDF Spokesperson’s tweets that he believes are morally wrong and negatively affect the war we are fighting…

The 7 Decisions that changed author Andy Andrews’ life and how they can guide you towards success.

Not asking the world for the right to defend ourselves; such a right is obvious to anyone with a spine.

Where has all the billions of Euros and dollars that have been poured into Gaza over the years gone?

One wishes the PA would distance itself completely from Hamas now for the sake of peace and development in the region.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
Dusk in the early morning hours seen from Mt Meron, Northern Israel. March 26, 2014.

What do we do when we want to be mad at God but we also want God to make it all better? Indeed, what do we do?

Are donations from immoral people acceptable?

Rambam would also allow charity from a mumar as long as the person maintains basic belief in God and Judaism.

There is no song that tells the story of freedom like Shir HaShirim.

It is unfair to judge a 52 year old man with the glasses of a person who lives in a different world.

Adegbile was not making a moral statement by representing a man convicted of killing a cop.

Women learning Torah is becoming increasingly permissive, but women wearing tefillin is becoming increasingly stringent.

When the “offensive” statements in our Talmud were stated, no one thought they were offensive.

Both communities value using books to study their texts, and digital devices are a less preferable way for younger people to study.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fink-or-swim/ruminations-on-meditation/2013/07/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: