[Editor’s Note: you might think that the approach presented below is directly contrary to Tikkun’s focus on transforming the world. But that need not be true. The author talks about “it’s all good,” and we can understand that “all” to include all of us who are striving to transform the world in accord with the highest principles of Torah: love your neighbor, love the stranger, one law for you and for the stranger, and Justice, justice shalt thou pursue. Precisely because there are billions of people who want to change this world that the message below that “all is good” includes all those who are engaged in the struggle to transform the world, and those who will soon join it. And so when on the sabbath we pray that the God energy of the universe should “satisfy us with your goodness, and purify our hearts to serve you in truth” we are participating in and strengthening that “all good” of which the rabbi below is talking!–Rabbi Michael Lerner firstname.lastname@example.org]
In Israel they say, “Yehi’ye b’seder”, “It’s all good”.
You hear it everywhere in different variations.
Sometimes they say “It’s all good”. Other times they say, “It’s going to be good”.
But whatever it is, it’s for sure “good”, because this is the Jewish approach to life.
In recent years, a new approach to life has become quite popular.
It’s an approach to reducing stress, worry and anxiety, and it is taking over the heart and mind of Psychology, Psychiatry and the rest of Medical Science.
It’s called, “Mindfulness”. It’s a meditative approach to “Living in the Moment”.
Therapists rave about it, self-help websites are hyper-focused on it, and medical studies have shown that it works.
Although the Mindfulness approach is effective, it is not a Jewish approach to life, because the conclusion is not specifically, “Yehi’ye b’seder”, “It’s all good”.
The mindful approach is based on a general psychological principle that recognizes how stress is caused not so much by what actually happened, but rather, how you react to the situation at hand.
Unlike psychology, however, Mindfulness is a meditative approach.
Mindfulness meditative techniques help steer a person away from the way they’re reacting to stress by becoming aware of the very sensation of one’s feelings without reacting negatively, or even without passing judgment by saying “I don’t like this”.
The typical Mindfulness meditative exercise will encourage a person to detach themselves from the present swirl of life, close their eyes and just notice how you are feeling in the now:
Notice the sensation of your body sitting on the chair, or feel the weight of your feet on the floor.
Just notice in order to notice.
Do not notice in order to do something about it.
Take intentional breathes until you are calm and have a sense of being present.
Consider the following example:
Imagine someone sitting in the woods. In complete silence. Completely present.
Then focus on the sounds of the birds chirping.
Refrain even from saying, “How lovely”.
For this is an example of noticing in a judgmental way.
Today it may be “How lovely”, yet tomorrow it may be “How terrible”.
In this way, Mindfulness cures stress through simply noticing things as they “are”.
Judaism takes a different approach.
Consider Newton’s Law of Gravity.
According to Chassidus, creation is like a rock that is being thrown into the sky.
Since a rock’s state of inertia is to be on the ground, it takes the power of a throw to propel a rock to fly on high.
Once that power stops, the rock will fall back down to the ground.
Similarly, before creation, our world didn’t exist. Its initial state of “inertia” was that of non-existence.
In order to get our world to “exist”, there had to have been a force “throwing” the world from of its state of non-existence, into existence.
Like a rock, should that “throw” stop, the world would “fall” back into a state of non-existence.
From this perspective, only the present moment exists.
The last moment was a part of the “throw” that is no longer.
The next moment’s part of the “throw” has yet to exist.
From this perspective, the present is an “oasis” in time, free of all stress, worry and anxiety.
Past disappointments and failures become more distant.
Future moments and associated anxieties become non-existent.
And what’s more, in such an “oasis” of time, a person will come to see that life is really good.
Since by definition, G-d is good, this present moment’s act of creation is also good.
It has been this attitude that has kept the Jewish people strong.
Instead of being a bitter angry people who have suffered 1000’s of years of oppression, we are a positive-thinking, proactive people who make the best of every situation.
We believe in “tikun olam” because we know that we can make the world a better place.
Because we know that the world is, in essence, good.
According to Judaism, the world was not born from “original sin”, but rather, from G-d’s act of creation which came from “original” kindness and compassion.
In being that this act of “original” kindness and compassion is a constant, existing at each and every moment, life is truly “good”…because G-d is good.
In a sense, the Jewish approach to Mindfulness boils down to be able to truly say, “Yehi’ye b’seder”, “It’s all good”.
To learn more about the Jewish approach to Mindfulness, sign up for a free online class at www.Chabad.org/StressLess
Rabbi Adam Stein is the founder of Mental-imagery Based Stress Management (MiBSM), offering a Kabbalah approach to Mindfulness at www.RedefineTime.com. He is also the director of Chabad at Stony Brook University, and the presenter of Chabad.org’s “Stress-less” online seminar at Chabad.org/stressless.