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  • Writer's pictureRuth Schapira

Mind and Motion

Judaism's Awareness of the Body-Mind Connection

Judaism offers an incredible teaching about how our minds and bodies work together, and it is so wise and true. Sure, we've advanced in uncountable ways in our understanding of the brain, neural connections between our minds and bodies, but the areas of the human being that I'm referencing here are beyond a microscope or an MRI.

Thousands of years ago, our sages understood the inner workings of the human being through a holistic lens, connecting what is in the mind to what would be realized in the body. There is an incredible orchestration between knowledge and action embedded in our tradition.

Let me explain. The Torah does not stand alone, and neither do mitzvot (commandments). Taken separately, each one does not actualize its potential.

Torah teaches us about living in community, what it means to live beyond yourself---to be responsible to others and also deferring and submitting to a Higher Source who is the ultimate judge of behavior. Engaging in mitzvot is the actualization of that ideal. Teaching without action is an abstraction, and doing without the teaching has no foundation.

The wisdom is that body and mind, heart and soul need to work in concert. We ensure this process by a practice of mindfulness...operational thousands of years before the term became well, so trendy. Pausing just a bit before learning or doing allows the space for the sacred to enter into our lives.

So, what does this mean on a practical level?

For me, when I engage in learning, saying a blessing helps me be aware of a much deeper wisdom that operates within the world...and when I do a mitzvah, saying a blessing beforehand allows me to be conscious to connect it to the Source.

This simple practice makes both my learning and actions more mindful, and I am uplifted as a result. By bringing awareness to all I do, I imbue everyday actions with a touch of the sacred.

If you don't already, you may want to try bringing God into your life in this way, by simply being mindful of who you really are (a pure soul) and your connection with the Source for doing what you already do. Saying a blessing will help, and you don't need to be formal about it. God is interested in a relationship, not perfection (otherwise we wouldn't be here in the first place). Each time you do this, you make a new neural connection in your brain, that opens up pathways to a more spiritual existence. Plus, you're reinforcing a tradition that speaks to your soul, thousands of years in the making.

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