Our minds are like the proverbial cork tossed on stormy seas. Global networks torment us with instant news about every natural disaster, political upheaval and affront to justice happening in corners of the world our grandparents never even heard of. Our attention is fragmented between 100 channels and a million websites. And then there is social media, where we are driven to “compare and despair”: more friends than you, more likes than you, more accomplished children than you …
I grew up in what I considered from an early age to be a house filled with chaos. By the time I turned 10, my father had lost his business, my mother had to join the workforce, and I was enlisted to care for two brothers and a sister. Since each member in my family had a strong personality, home life could be quite intense.
Calmness is a relatively recent experience for me, since discovering mindfulness meditation a few years ago. But my gradually increasing ability to quiet my chattering mind is slowly but surely changing my life for the better. It is also helping to equip me to work on social justice.
#GivingTuesday Coming on Nov. 29
#GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year it will be on November 29.
The aim is to kick off the holiday giving-
We hope that you will join TMI’s #GivingTuesday initiative, Taking the Challenge. Your donation of $36 or more to Taking the Challenge will help underwrite the costs for The Jewish Spirituality Challenge next March, including the creation of Mussar materials that will offer practical answers to the Challenge questions.
Please visit our special #GivingTuesday landing page on November 29 and show your support by making a generous donation.
The Jewish Spirituality Challenge: What Do You Need?
Have you been asking questions such as:
What qualities or goals would you like to bring into your spiritual life?
Can you see a role for the Jewish community in helping you develop those qualities or reach those goals? If so, what might that look like?
If so, then please join us for an International Study Day on Sunday, March 19, 2017, at 2 p.m. (Eastern). Hundreds of people from around the world will probe The Jewish Spirituality Challenge: What Do You Need? in va’adim and in virtual meetings.
The kickoff will be a live inspirational message from Alan Morinis, followed by Mussar text study in local groups, lively discussion about the Challenge, reporting back to the international audience and the unveiling of TMI’s response to the top challenges.
It will be a morning/afternoon/evening of fellowship, study and excitement.
Save the date!
NEW MUSSAR BOOK: TMI faculty member David Jaffe’s new book, Changing the World from the Inside Out, employs tools from Mussar tradition to teach self-development as a way to accomplish sustainable change. “This wise book is essential reading for anyone who recognizes that the world’s problems demand spiritual solutions, because it is we who must change before we can expect to change the world,” Alan Morinis writes. “Rabbi Jaffe draws on deep and time-tested Jewish wisdom to guide us to become more effective activists by bringing our highest truth to bear on public issues. He shows us how to tap the wellsprings of motivation, channel emotions, and align our behavior with our highest values to make us more effective in serving the public good.”
SAVE THE DATE: The 2017 Practice Retreat will be held from May 21 to 24, 2017.
ISRAEL TRIP: Join The Mussar Institute for 10 days in Israel through the lens of Mussar. The tour, led by Alan Morinis and Avi Fertig, will take place from February 19 to March 1, 2017. For more information or to register, click here.
“MY OWN HAPPINESS”: TMI faculty member Chaim Safren offers a short Mussar lesson on avoiding the brainwashing that tells us what things can make us happy. Check out this recent talk on his weekly video blog.
The Practice Corner
When you become aware that your mind is perturbed, check whether the concern is for you or for someone else. If for yourself, seek to calm the waves of your mind by repeating aloud the phrase, “Rise above the good or the bad. Rise above the good or the bad. Rise above the good or the bad.”
Do this for as long as it takes for your mind to settle into calmness. Then bring into focus the one who really needs your help.
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