Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.
This 21st day of Prepent kicks off the third level of our journey. After focusing first on the body and then on our feelings, it’s time to think about thinking: how we can mindfully get ourselves to a better state of being.
Prepent 5774 is a four-phase grid, grounded in the mystical notion of the four worlds: Doing (Assiya), Feeling (Briaa), Thinking (Yetzira), and Being (Atzilut). The notion that the universe is comprised of four “worlds,” or levels of reality, is based on an ancient Kabbalistic conception of existence as multi-layered, and in a state of dynamic flux.
This morning I was riding my bike to school, an already ambitious project, when I noticed that one of my bike wheels was fully pumped while the other needed some air. With no time to stop and fix it, I kept going, thinking about balance and how to manage once it’s been disrupted. The bike was a metaphor for life, the two wheels out of sync an allegory for the mind and heart when they are running in opposition.
Some of this Elul reflection work is a little touchy feely, engaging our emotional sense of self on the road to feeling better about our lives. But I think the real heavy lifting when it comes to changing our ingrained habits is modifying what we think and how we think.
Mindfulness requires not just motivation but the discipline and commitment to change, for good. In the Teshuva literature, which we turn to during the High Holidays, it says that to change a ‘sin’ or unwanted behavior, try avoiding or replacing it for 21 days. Some say 30 days. Others say three days.
A recent Lifehack email I received recommend a helpful two-minute method for improving focus and minimizing procrastination. I’ll get to the wiser use of digital technology and how not to get drowned by too much information later this week. But for now, on this first day of thinking about how we think, I want to take the time to consider the balance between my heart and my mind, my emotional and rational self. How do I make decisions? What can I do to improve that?
Clearly, setting out for school, 30 minutes late, on a bike with one almost flat tire is a great example of how clearer thinking might help me. More use of the head, though not at the expense of heart, for balanced biking and general gravity all year round.
Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.