It was one of the most intense and incredible days of my life. But it wasn’t until years later I realized that something else happened that day to make it so memorable; My mom had taught me about mindfulness.
You look out from a stage and see almost everyone you care about in the whole world. When you do, you see your family and friends, the person you have a crush on, and even the girl who doesn’t like you. Then, you adjust your dress (or pants!), make sure there’s no breakfast in your braces and take a deep breath. It’s time to go out onto the ‘field of play’ and put to use what you’ve been practicing so hard for.
This day was my Bat Mitzvah.
Now, I’m not religious, but I have become an incredibly spiritual person. I love the Jewish traditions, culture, stories, and overall love of family, food, and wine. (Have you ever been to a Purim party or a fun Passover seder? If not, get to one — ASAP and you’ll know what I mean!)
Fun Fact: I spent a summer in Israel in a seminary program studying Orthodox Judaism. I learned that I did NOT want to be an Orthodox Jew and it re-affirmed that organized religion isn’t for me – but holy moly did I believe in a higher power. I’ve come to the agreement with myself that this, for me, is called The Universe. Using the word God, again for me, has some automatic negative connotations and that’s the last thing I want to feel when I’m surrendering and opening myself up to growth, ya know?
Wow – super off topic. I just wanted you to know that about me, I guess!
I’m incredibly spiritual + open to miracles and magic, but not religious.
So, it’s my Bat Mitzvah, and it’s a combination of the best + most embarrassing day of my life. I remember that I had recently had my first kiss and I thought my uncle was going to talk to the guy who it was with all about it. Man, I do not miss being a teenager. Part of the Bat Mitzvah service are speeches from the child’s parents. My dad wrote a beautiful speech that of course made him cry (he has the cutest tendency to cry during every speech he has ever given me or my brother Matthew) and then my mom had a speech that I didn’t realize taught me the most significant life lesson I’d learned.
To be honest with you, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized the connection between mindfulness (and how I try to live my life) with the beautiful speech my mom wrote and gave at my Bat Mitzvah. A 13-year-old can only take in so much in one day! But, I find it very interesting that my brain somehow continued to process this speech and subconsciously put two-and-two together. I didn’t watch the video or see pictures.
I had a dream about it like I was there, but it was my brain now, instead of my 13-year-old mind that was more worried about how my butt was looking to my crush in the 2nd pew.
My mom’s speech was witty, entertaining, and poignant (as most of her speeches are) and detailed the events of what was a seemingly typical morning in our lives at the time. She talked about how one morning she put Matthew and me in the car to go to school and gave me a bagel to eat on the way to school. We dropped off Matthew and then continued to my middle school – arriving about 5 minutes later. She continued, explaining that as our minivan pulled into the school, I asked, “Where did my bagel go?!” She looked at me and responded, “You ate it, Rachela.” She then explained that I laughed at myself, told her that I loved her, and ran off to school. I remember standing there wondering why she was recounting such a random and kind of embarrassing story, as she then explained how life could be just like the bagel. “What?,” I remember thinking to myself. “If you aren’t paying attention, your whole life can pass you by without realizing it – just like you didn’t realize you ate the bagel. We have to pay attention to every single bite, savoring each moment.”
That is some motivational speaker shit right there – dropped at Temple Beth El during my Bat Mitzvah. And, I didn’t even realize it until just a few months ago. My mom might not have had the language to call what she was talking about “mindfulness,” but she was teaching the practice. She wanted me to slow down, to be present, and to take in each bite… each moment of this incredible day and every day.
So, I want to turn this around to support you. What is your bagel? What are you so used to that you don’t realize you’re doing it anymore? What are you so caught up in that you’re missing what’s right in front of you?
I know my mom knew she was teaching me a huge lesson that day, but I don’t think she’ll ever know how important that lesson is to me now. Starting a business with your husband, having a vision for that business to grow and help more and more people, trying to keep up relationships with the people you care about most, and keeping the romance alive in a marriage… phew, it’s so easy to look past each moment and focus on the next. I may have heard this when I was 13, but I am still learning it to this day. I’d love to hear how you learned about mindfulness – both conceptually and in practice. Let’s continue the discussion in our FB group aka our Therapeutic + Educational Online Community.If you aren't paying attention, your whole life can pass you by without realizing it - just like you didn't realize you ate the bagel. We have to pay attention to every single bite, savoring each moment. Click To Tweet