Mindfulness Practice for Election Night

Mindfulness Practice for Election Night

I remember election night 2016, which coincided with an IJS meditation teacher training
retreat. At first glance, it might seem dissonant to bring an election with all of its
emotion, spin, and hype into the retreat experience. However, at the Institute we have
the conviction that if our practice is going to be real it must be accessible and operative
in real life–no matter what the circumstances.

We sat at Brandeis Bardin, and watched the PBS coverage of the election. Every 20
minutes or so I rang a bell, we muted and covered the projection, and just sat together
for a few minutes. It was quite surreal and challenging to be in that strong container of
practice while also watching the election coverage. We all felt an intensity of emotion
that evening, compounded by the long hours of meditation leading up to election night.

However, as I’ve understood upon reflection, it was importantly and truly in the spirit of
our practice. It would have been easier and in many ways preferable to have not been on
retreat for that election, but it was also a powerful way of meeting the moment as it is,
with bravery and integrity to the principles of our practice. I am proud of the courage
and dedication of all the participants in the JMMTT program that year, as well as of our
staff. We all held each other up in real ways.

I believe that the fundamentals of what we did that night are good guidelines for all of
us to practice in the midst of this season, including on election night.

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Mindfulness Practice for Election Night

Prayers to Recite Before Voting

Below we offer three prayers for you to choose from, to be recited before voting. We recommend reciting your prayer(s) of choice immediately before casting your ballot as a way to ground your kavvanah (intention) for voting. The first was written by Rabbi Sam Feinsmith of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. The second, an improvised variation on the Kaddish, was composed by the beloved eighteenth-century Hasidic teacher Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev as a protest against the Czar. The third is a prayer for peace composed by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, another influential Hasidic teacher and a contemporary of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak. If the length of the first prayer is a hindrance, you may choose as your prayer a few paragraphs that speak to your heart.

Read the three prayers