an awareness meditation

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-pocketTo complete nearly any task necessitates a fair amount of awareness. To play a game one needs to be aware of its rules. To walk across the street unharmed one must be aware of the traffic conditions. These things also require focus. Yet it seems that the more one focuses on one particular thing, the less aware that same person can become concerning everything else.

This is sometimes good. Hyper-awareness of one’s surroundings can stifle the ability to complete certain tasks. Nevertheless, a more fully integrated life does not require one to shut out the world in order to live within it. One step towards greater awareness of the world is to become more aware of one’s place in it. So…here is a practice loosely based on one recommended by the sages that can help to build awareness of “self” in the world.


Take two small pieces of paper.

On one paper write the following:

“For my sake, the world was created”

On the other, write:

“I am but dust and ashes”

Periodically throughout the day (maybe even at times you establish) pull out each piece of paper, hold one paper in each hand and read them out loud. Start to move your hands closer and closer together saying both phrases until the two papers are on top of one another folded in your hands. Hold them together for a moment and sit in the reality that both statements are true. You may find in time that you are better able to take in more of the world in which you live because you have become more aware of who you really are within it.

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