I fell. Really hard. Picture one of those slow motion falls. Yesterday, I was at the synagogue doing a rehearsal with a bat mitzvah student and I tumbled off the bima (platform) down a whole bunch of steps, hitting my chin on the piano pedals (I’m sure it was a completely graceful fall, aren’t you?) My shoe caught on the carpet and I tripped.
Luckily, the student’s mom was an MD and saw the whole thing. I’m ok – no broken bones. No concussion. Just banged and shaken up. (PS I was NOT holding a torah. That would be a whole other story.)
SO – it turns out that the meditation teacher gets another BIG chance to practice being present, keeping it real, reaching out and reaching in.
First – it’s incredible how quickly my (fear-based) self-talk kicked in. As soon as I got over the initial shock, I found myself thinking, “OH NO – what if I have to cancel the havdalah I’m leading this Saturday?” “What if I have broken bones and I find out I have osteoporosis?” “I KNEW I should have been doing more weight-baring exercises all these years…” “What if I have a neurological disorder that caused me to lose my balance?” ETC. ETC. As we used to say in the Seinfeld era: yada yada yada.
At some point last night, I remembered what one of my teachers taught: “Panic is a choice.” And then, just the night before I fell, I heard Jon Kabat-Zinn (the founder of the Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction technique) on a video I was watching that “Pain is a given; suffering is optional.”
It’s not what happens to us, it’s how we respond.*
In that moment of remembering, I realized that I did NOT have to go to a dark place of fear and worry. I was so grateful for the information and teachers that have helped me to reframe my thinking. And it’s not just one-time learning. It’s constant re-learning and practice.
The next thing I did was call on my community: first – my creative wonderful husband, who not only created three ice-packs with rubber bands for every place I needed it — but also helped me to remember: yes, you’re going to hurt, and no, this is not forever. (And he also made dinner.)
I called a few of my wonderful friends who: made me laugh, told me their stories of falling, and from whom I felt deep love and concern. So while my body ached, my heart swelled.
I’m grateful for each person who stopped what they were doing to listen, and to give wisdom. (Yes, ok, back to the weight-bearing workouts….)
Why am I telling you all this? Because it was also a message to me to SLOW DOWN. Yes, I know I tripped because one of my boots got caught on the carpe (see photo below.) There IS a chance that I was moving too fast, as I am known to do.
In this world of too-much-too-fast — “stuff” happens on a daily basis. This “stuff” challenges us to examine (and practice) how we think and react and respond. And it is essential to have people in our lives that lift us up, help us learn, and are there when we fall.
It is my deepest hope that Hineni: The Mindful Heart Project, the new virtual community I’m creating starting next Tuesday evening (will be recorded) will be a gathering place for exactly this kind of learning and community.
I would SO love for you to join us! An AMAZING beautiful group of souls have already signed on. Please register asap so we can get you all the info to begin.
We can learn and fall together.
And — rise.
To learn how cool this community is going to be and all the details: click here: Click Here: http://goo.gl/4oM1jp
Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman
*By the way, this is the profound lesson from the “who shall live and who shall die” prayer at High Holy Days Unetenah Tokef.