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Discover the Jewish Practice That Wakes You Up to the Magic and Meaning of Your Life
When is the last time you remember being fully present – not worrying about the past or anxiously planning for the future – just available to soak up all the goodness of the moment?
It’s probably easier to recall the last time you arrived at work and then didn’t remember driving there. Or finishing a meal not having tasted a single bite.
Or being so preoccupied during a conversation with a friend, spouse or co-worker that you couldn’t really listen to them or remember anything they said.
If so, you’re not alone.
Today most of us regularly experience being so lost in our thoughts, distracted on our phones, and caught-up in our never-ending to-do lists that we aren’t really experiencing our lives in the present moment.
We have a tendency to think – and our culture reinforces – that doing more and achieving more is what will bring our lives into alignment with our core values and what matters most to us.
How Much Have You Missed in Your Relentless Pursuit of More?
Yet, what’s actually true is that in our perpetual state of busyness and distractedness we often end up missing the sacred moments and squandering the opportunities we’re given to be fully awake to the magic and meaning of our lives.
And when you multiply that pattern by days, weeks, months and years, it’s not hard to imagine that our lives can pass by without meaning or connection to the people we love, to Judaism and God—whatever form that might take, and the purpose we’re here for.
Establishing a mindfulness practice can help us wake up to what really matters.
Access a More Relaxed, Restorative Way of Being That Offers a Deeper and More Meaningful Life Experience
You Can Start with Just 5 Minutes a Day
You may already recognize that you need some support managing your stress, being more present, reinvigorating your connection to Judaism, and skillfully navigating the challenges in your life and in the world.
You’ve likely heard mindfulness is helping others, but may not have figured out how to make it work for you. And you may not realize that you can practice mindfulness within a Jewish context . . . in a way that makes mindfulness accessible, familiar and perhaps even more meaningful to you—in addition to potentially creating new and possibly unexpected connections to Judaism itself.
That’s why the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, a global leader in teaching Jewish mindfulness and spiritual practices, has created The Gift of Awareness: Cultivating Mindfulness Through Jewish Meditation a first-of-its-kind, self-paced, online Jewish meditation course that offers new access to expanded awareness to support you in becoming more consistently who you want to be in the world . . . all from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Here’s how it works . . . during The Gift of Awareness, mindfulness educators Rabbi Sam Feinsmith and Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell will expertly guide you each step of the way through establishing a Jewish mindfulness meditation practice that can support you in:
- Showing up non-reactively in your life
- Finding ways to deal skillfully with your inner critic
- Finding an anchor of peace and positivity in stressful situations
- Reawakening or deepening your connection to Judaism
- Being a powerful example of resiliency, empathy and connection in your life and in the world
With regular practice – even for just 5 minutes a day – you can gain access to an inner refuge or sanctuary that you can take with you wherever you go . . .
So that no matter the circumstances you may find yourself in, no matter how stressful and strenuous your responsibilities may become, you can always discern a subtle quality of awareness hovering in the backdrop and permeating your experience of body, heart, mind and world.
Here’s What People Who’ve Established a Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Practice Tell Us About How It’s Transformed Their Lives
“Before I came to IJS and took the course, I thought my yoga meditation that I practiced before classes was all that there was to meditation. During the course, I experienced a deeper inner look into myself and was surprised that feelings of loss that I had suppressed surfaced. Now that I’ve experienced The Gift of Awareness, my life is calmer and I realize that I can live at a bit of a slower pace, be more aware and present, be a better listener, and still get the things done that matter to me.”
“IJS has changed my life. I know it sounds dramatic. But I want everyone to know what I now know – our Jewish Hassidic wisdom has deepened my prayer, my meditation and my mindset. Even more essentially, because of IJS I have changed the way I speak to myself, which has changed everything.”
“Jewish spiritual practice has made me so much more spiritually alive. It inspired me. Refreshed me. Many of us go to yoga, meditate and are looking for spiritual practices to help us in our lives. What I didn’t know is that I could do all of that within the context of Jewish prayer and tradition—and that it would be so much more meaningful as a result.”
Rabbi Rachel Timoner
“Rachel Cowan z’l and the IJS faculty have taught me a new language and new practices for exploring, understanding and experiencing Judaism in ways I never could have imagined. When I can remember to be mindful and aware (da’at), my life and my relationships are enriched. I’ve been given the tools, now it is just practice, practice, practice. ”
The Gift of Awareness
A Session-by-Session Course Overview
Here’s a closer look at everything you’ll cover:
Every module is between 30 and 45 minutes in length, and includes:
- Video teachings with Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell
- A text study with Rabbi Sam Feinsmith
- A guided meditation
- A mindful life practice
- Reflection questions and discussion forums
- A supplemental handout
Each session builds on the next so that you feel relaxed, inspired, and confident in each new skill before moving onto the next. That means no binge watching. We’ll give you a week to practice what you’ve learned between modules.
Waking Up to Your Life
From Automatic Pilot to Intention
From Distracted to Present
Listening to Your Body
From Thinking to Sensing
Once you have finished the first three modules you may notice . . .
- You’ve begun moving through your life more intentionally, instead of being on automatic pilot
- You find it easier to anchor your attention to be more present
- You’ve become better able to notice your mental habits and unsupportive thought patterns that habitually move you into reactivity and away from feeling calm and centered.
Turning Towards the Stream of Your Emotions
From Reactivity to Responsiveness
Working with Difficult Emotions
From Avoidance to Approaching
Once you have finished Modules Four and Five you may notice . . .
- You’re better able to identify emotions in your body, such as “Oh, I must be feeling sadness because there’s sensation in the pit of my stomach” or “My face is flushing, which means I’m feeling angry.”
- You’re more in tune with your emotions and able to know precisely what you’re feeling moment by moment, instead of having only a vague sense of ease or uneasiness.
- You’re more able to cultivate non-judgemental attention to your own emotions, allowing you to be more responsive instead of getting stuck in emotionality and reactivity.
Befriending Your Own Mind
From Conviction to Curiosity
Cultivating Your Loving Heart
From Judgment to Compassion
Resting in Shabbat Mind™
From Doing to Being
Once you have finished Module Six you may notice . . .
- You’re more able to be the observer of your thoughts and the student of your habits instead of believing those thoughts and habits are what define you.
- As you realize more clearly that you’re not actually your thoughts and mental habits, you become more in touch with who you really are.
Once you have finished Module Seven you may notice . . .
- You’re better able to cultivate loving emotions when you need them — the kind of emotions that open the heart and leave the mind feeling spacious and connected.
- You’re better able to skillfully handle emotions (like anger) that distort your ability to see clearly.
Once you have finished Module Eight you may notice . . .
- You’re better able to de-stress, regulate and strengthen your attention, and practice emotional self-regulation.
- You feel more resourced, restored and supported as you do your work and live your life.
- You’re able to meet others (and yourself) with a deeper quality of love, compassion and acceptance.
- You have access in any moment to what Shabbat represents — peaceful awareness that you need to do nothing else or be anywhere else.
- That practice grounded in Jewish wisdom has changed your relationship with Judaism and possibly even God.
Course Materials and Resources
When you register, you’ll get access to everything you need to take full advantage of the self-paced course, including:
- 8 self-paced video teaching sessions, guided meditation “practices” and reflection questions – that you can access anywhere, anytime from your computer or mobile device.
- Downloadable handouts for each module – so you can reference these powerful teachings anytime.
- An online meditation timer you can load with your favorite guided meditations from the course – so you can practice them again and again.
- 8 “Mindful Life” practices – designed to help you integrate the course teachings into your everyday life.
- A personal online journal – your own personal space to record your reflections.
- Online study/practice partners – so you can share your experience with like-minded others on a similar path.
The Gift of Awareness
Two Options for Registering:
Pay in Full
Payment Plan3 Monthly Payments
About Rabbi Sam Feinsmith
Rabbi Sam Feinsmith is a Program Director at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, co-directing the Clergy Leadership Program and the Educating for a Jewish Spiritual Life program for Jewish day schools and religious schools. Previously, he taught Judaic Studies at Chicagoland Jewish High School, Illinois, and the Heschel School in NY, where he did cutting-edge work on teen spirituality and mindfulness. He holds rabbinic ordination from YCT Rabbinical School and an MA in Talmud from JTS. He is a co-founder and meditation teacher at Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning, and has served as a consultant on a number of innovative prayer and minyan-related projects. He served as a Kol Tzedek Fellow for American Jewish World Service, and volunteered in Cambodia with their Volunteer Corps. He lives in Evanston, IL with his wife Sarah-Bess and their daughter Elanit.
About Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell is Director and Rabbi of Camp Ramah in Canada. He served on the faculty of IJS for seven years, directing the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training program. Jordan was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2008, after which he served as a congregational rabbi and began interning with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Prior to pursuing his rabbinical studies, Jordan studied Conservation Biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, spent several months at Zen centers in California and France, led spiritually engaged Jewish backpacking trips, worked at a number of Jewish summer camps and studied Jewish text at yeshivot in Jerusalem. Jordan is a founder of the Center for Jewish Mindfulness in Chicago, now a part of Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning.
About the Institute for Jewish Spirituality
The Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) teaches people who are seeking a deeper, richer and more meaningful life experience Jewish spiritual practices that are grounded in mindfulness. We do this by reclaiming texts and practices from contemplative Jewish traditions, including various forms of mindfulness meditation, yoga, singing, contemplative prayer and working with middot (better aligning our behaviors with our innermost values) — all taught within a Jewish context.
We believe that people who engage in Jewish spiritual practices that are grounded in mindfulness are better equipped to contribute to building Jewish communities that are vibrant, resilient and wise. They are also better able to navigate and meaningfully address the brokenness and complex challenges of our world.
By making these teachings and practices widely available, we seek to cultivate mindfulness, deepen connection to ourselves, each other and even God, and to enliven Jewish life.