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Is There a Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Track?

Is There a Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Track?

Photo: Carol Kramberger
Photo: Carol Kramberger

Dear Rabbi,

My doctor recommended that I take up some type of meditation, mentioning “mindfulness” as one option. I understand that this particular meditation is connected to idolatry.

Are there Jewish meditation techniques I could use?


Mindfulness is a Jewish idea and it is called kavanah.

Take one page of the siddur (prayerbook), and learn the meaning of each word on that page. Learn it as deep as you can. Or maybe, instead of a page, you should start with one line of the prayers—such as the Modeh Ani or the Shema Yisrael.

Practice saying each word with clear mental focus. Ignore any other thought that enters your mind. This is called kavanah.

Slowly, you can build up through the siddur until much of your morning prayer time can be spent in this state.

The same applies to all the blessings on food you say during the day. And eventually, every act of living can, and must, be done with kavanah, for the sake of heaven. As Solomon the wise taught, “In all your ways, know Him.”1

Conscious breathing or some other technique could help as a preparation to this exercise.

For some more detailed guidance, here’s a place to begin your journey: The Jewish Meditation Series: Guidance on Mindful Prayer.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA February 23, 2012

Jewish music does it for me. I tunes has the most wonderful Jewish music! They even have Jewish podcasts. To me, this is also like meditation. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, Florida February 22, 2012

I reserved the best for last! Read King David's Psalms. It is very inspiring and puts you in a very deep Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Track. It does for me.
Try it, you may like it, if not already tried. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, Florida February 21, 2012

Prayers work miracles too! Of course, it is understood that mantra Hindu deitie names are against the Judaism. I’m sure any Jew would know that. That’s why I was questioning why even mention it and why would a Jew use it as TM. You can still use words with no meaning to enter meditation I suppose. I, personally, don’t do all these, I just think about family, beautiful places and walk everywhere where it makes me feel good, beach, garden, malls, etc.. Then I can go home and resume my chores, lol Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA February 20, 2012

Rabbi, I am confused. So, are we to focus on one aspect of one prayer and say it over and over and over? I think maybe I don't understand your post. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman February 17, 2012

Idolatry Some practices, like TM, provide you a mantra to chant. These mantras are names of Hindu deities, so you shouldn't use them.

But mindfulness of its own, as I wrote, is central to Jewish practice. Reply

Tina NY, NY February 16, 2012

MEDITATION Keep and breathe,talk about the Ten Commandments, think on what is pure,good and beautiful. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, Florida February 16, 2012

Idolatry! Why idolatry? Doesn’t that depend on what or where your mind is heading? Also doesn’t it depend on your religion? Would you meditate on other G-ds rather than yours or statues, especially if you are Jewish? There is a fine line between the paradox of Daydreaming vs. Mindfulness and I am not sure where I am when taking time to think for a while, other than normal daily routine thinking. But I know there is absolutely nothing wrong about it because I often include G-d in my thoughts.
you are free to choose which or where your mind should take you. I suppose it is safer to say prayers if you are not sure. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA February 16, 2012

If I am correct, there is a scripture which Forbids us from doing word or phrase repetitions "as the heathen does". Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, Florida February 16, 2012

Rabbi Freeman... it seems that you have answered the question! What else is there for us to comment?
Should meditation be only with prayers? Couldn't it also be walking in a garden or on the beach and admiring G-d's creation, where ever possible? prayers are prayers while uplifting then the question should be: what prayers should I say in order to meditate! Isn’t there anything else in the Judaism that would propel a person into meditation? Reply

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