self-reflection

Yom Kippur is an opportune time to think back on our wrongdoings, yet elements of mindfulness and self-reflection can be implemented daily or weekly.

As summer closes and fall is in the air, we take a deep breath and welcome the new year with apples and honey, blessings on family and friends, good food and positive thoughts.

We also enter into a time of introspection and reflection — Yom Kippur — a time when we ask to be written into the Book of Life for another year in hopes that blessings will follow us and those we love with good health, happiness, productivity, abundance and strength.

During this time, we reflect on the past year and how we conducted ourselves with respect to our environment, our interactions with others and with ourselves.

We ask God to accept us and forgive our wrongdoings, and we take ownership of our actions and make atonement. To this end, we fast to be mindful of the importance of the moment. The fast is the catalyst to remind us that we are focusing on atonement.

via iStock

On Yom Kippur in Israel, the entire country comes to a halt. There are no cars on any streets and all businesses are closed. Synagogues are crowded with people clamoring to hear the shofar. Most people are dressed in white to symbolize purity, death of the old and rebirth of the new.

The shofar is sounded to mark the end of the holiday and call upon us to go out and live our fullest life. A siren heard throughout the country heralds the end of the holiday when people can again resume their daily living activities.

During this time, the practice of mindfulness permeates the air and embodies our desire to grow both humility and understanding for ourselves and fellow Jews.

Yet, mindfulness does not have to take place just once a year. If we are living a mindful lifestyle, then self-reflection can become a daily action.

When you get home from work, try taking thirty minutes to decompress and reflect on the day’s events. While doing so, ask yourself the following:

  • Did I wrong anyone today, and if so, what can I learn from that?
  • Was there something that I could have handled better during the day?
  • Did I give my 100% today? (Even if I’m only at 45%, if I gave it everything I have, that’s equivalent to 100%).
  • Is there something I can do tomorrow to make it a better day?
  • Do I need to let go of something?
  • Do I need to make amends?

Our smartphones can be a great helper in creating awareness for this practice. For example, try putting an alarm on your cell phone that repeats at the same time daily, which my husband likes to do. When the alarm goes off, the sentence can read something like, “moment of awareness.”

While Yom Kippur is a great time for self reflection and introspection, it can become a part of your life on a regular basis.

May everyone find health and happiness in this new year, and may you all be written in the Book of Life.

Lori Gordon-Michaeli, LCSW, of Farmington Hills, owns Journey Within LLC Behavioral Health Services in Southfield, MI. (www.jwithin.com). She earned her master’s in social work at the University of Michigan. In her practice, she uses various methods including EMDR, CBT, DBT, TRT, art and journaling. She made aliyah to Israel at age 18 and lived there until age 42. She studied at Haifa University and is is fluent in Hebrew. As a world traveler, she has a global view and a background in world religions and diversity.  

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