Mindfulness and Counting the Omer

Inspiration from counting the omerHave you tried counting the omer yet this year? Still plenty of time to jump in.

Rabbi Yael Levy shares in Journey through the Wilderness that “The most important thing is to count. Just a few moments of stopping and bringing your attention to each day is rich spiritual practice.” She gives tips on the practical elements – how to count, where to count. And she explains that counting “strengthens our ability to stand in the moment, to give thanks and let go.”

The opportunity to experiment with this practice is a gift you can give yourself that might have long-lasting benefits for you.

Rabbi Levy even suggests keeping a journal through the 49 days.

Connection with Thrive  

A few weeks ago, I began to read Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. 

Given the timing – before Passover and, therefore, soon before the 49 days of counting the omer – I was struck by the connections between the omer practice and her emphasis on mindfulness and meditation.

If you’ve seen Arianna on the talk show circuit, you’ll know that she had an aha moment when, out of complete exhaustion, she collapsed, hitting the edge of her desk and ending on the floor, in a pool of her own blood, with a cut over her eye and a broken cheekbone.

Her book gathers together the wisdom of people from many corners of society who place great value on mindfulness and meditation. She quotes a medical study that validates how “the state of calm, produced by meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises . . . switched on genes that are related to augmenting our immune system.”

She shares Steve Jobs’ belief in the connection between meditation and creativity.

She quotes Torah coach Frumma Rosenberg-Gottlieb who said that she realized that “mindfulness and a peaceful, balanced soul is indeed an objective in Jewish life.” To stress how ancient the practice is, Rosenberg-Gottlieb even quotes a passage from Genesis 24 that refers to Abraham’s son, Isaac, who “went out to meditate in the field toward evening,” while waiting for Rebecca, his bride-to-be.

In sum, Arianna suggests: “find some regular activity that trains your mind to be still, fully present, and connected with yourself.”

Your turn

If you’ve embarked on the journey of counting the omer, you might have many feelings, learnings to share. Please feel free to express them here.

If you haven’t started counting yet, but want a guide to give it a try, you’ve still got four weeks. It’s not too late to sign up for the daily emails from Rabbi Levy and Rabbis Zimmerman and Enger.

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