Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | December 22, 2013

Home of my new blog….

Thank you for subscribing to my blog.

Please find my updated blog at this website:

http://stuckinthemuck365.wordpress.com/

Thank you!

Shira

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | August 12, 2013

MOVING HOMES

My dear friend,

I hope you will consider visiting me at my new home and subscribing to the updated blog.

Yours in gratitude,

Shira

http://stuckonabranch.wordpress.com/

 

 

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | May 9, 2013

We were ROBBED

robbedSometime, between 12 and 5 AM last night, we were robbed.

The burglar(s?) quietly entered the house, stole the cell phones that were sitting on our kitchen table, a lap top that was left on the couch, and a second laptop that was in a briefcase in our bedroom.

Yes, they (he?) entered our bedroom in the middle of the night.

And, we didn’t hear a thing.

Until this morning, when my husband couldn’t find his phone.

And, when he went outside to look for it (he thought perhaps he dropped it near the car by accident) and saw contents of some of our bags scattered around the driveway, we knew what had happened.

Of course, we called the police who came immediately.  And as I type this blog, I am waiting for the investigator to come take fingerprints.

We’re a little shook up.

But, in the midst of this all, I was able to come back to this practice.

And, take a second.

And, breathe.

And, be thankful.

That my kids were not touched.

That my husband and I were not touched.

That we are alive.

That essentially, everything is ok.

And, though I may return various feelings (anger, guilt, fear, and more), I know that even for brief moments in time, I can close my eyes, take a deep breath, and be present to all that we have.

 

 

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | April 30, 2013

Starting an additional blog – ON SATISFACTION

My dear blog followers:

I want to invite you to an additional blog that I am beginning.  The topic is on satisfaction.

Please follow this link to the blog and consider joining me on the ride!

http://masbeya.wordpress.com/

With love and thanks,

Shira

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | March 27, 2013

Mindful Passover

ballsThis year I’ll be turning 40.

And, in 39 years of life, I’ve never once made a matzah ball.

Why? There really was never a need. As a child, my Mom-Mom made the delicious matzah balls for the annual Seders and besides those two nights of the year, we never really ate matzah ball soup in the house.

This year, with old friends coming to visit during the holiday, I decided I would make matzah ball soup.

So, I headed to the store to buy the box.

The box?

You know, the matzah ball mix box… the one sitting on the shelf in the incredibly long Kosher for Passover aisle of the supermarket… the box sitting next to the matzah crackers, canned gefilte fish, chocolate covered jellies, bottled horseradish, tin-canned macaroons, Kosher for Passover cereals, and many, many other items including dozens of varieties of matzah.

This is how I grew up in the States.  In supermarkets that supplied (and probably sold) more processed food than it did natural food.

So, when I couldn’t find the matzah ball mix box (let alone the Kosher for Passover aisle!) in the nearby supermarket to our kibbutz, I asked a clerk, who directed me over to the matzah.  And, the matzah meal.

And THAT was the “aisle”.

There were no other Kosher for Passover processed products to be found.

I was amazed.

And, when I went to check out, I entered into a conversation with the cashier about this interesting revelation:

That I can actually make matzah balls without a mix!

She was flabbergasted that I would have even considered using a box to make maztah balls!  Of course, she continued, I should be preparing most of my food without a pre-made mix, and without it coming from a box or a bottle (which I try to be mindful of in general during the year).

So, on this Passover holiday, may we all merit to be blessed with finding ways to prepare as many healthy meals and eat as few non-processed foods as possible.

Amen!

 

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | March 10, 2013

On Mindful Touch

contact

Over the past 2 days, I participated in an intense CONTACT retreat on Hannaton (led by a fellow kibbutz member).

What I hadn’t anticipated is that the exercises that we would do together would open my eyes to a new way to practice mindfulness…

Through touch.

CONTACT is a “modern dance technique in which points of physical contact provide the starting point for exploration through movement improvisation”.

The focus of the practice is to literally maintain a point of physical contact with your partner throughout your entire “dance”.  (It is hard to describe, but if you go to youtube, you’ll find some wonderful examples.)

During the retreat, I practiced pivoting, rolling, sliding, leaning, pushing, falling, lifting and even some acrobatic techniques.

Not by myself.

Always with another human being.

And, although I’m still slowly learning to understand the essence of this practice, I can say one thing for sure.

To practice CONTACT, you must be completely present.

Because the moment you lose your attention (which happened to me a few times over the weekend), you lose (literal) “contact”.

*****************************

As soon as the 2-day intensive retreat ended and I entered back into my “real” world, I realized how little physical contact is in my life.

How many missed opportunities I have, everyday, to be truly present with another person via the modality of touch.

In empathy.

In happiness.

In a greeting.

In sorrow.

In love.

In friendship.

In respect.

In laughter.

In gratitude.

Living now in a society where touch and warmth is very much part of the culture, I’ve decided to begin to be more conscious with practicing mindful touch.

(So, for those of you in my vicinity… Watch out.  If you receive a random hug from me, you’ll know why.)

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | March 7, 2013

On Rejection and Acceptance

rejectionThis week, there seems to have been a string of rejections in the air….

A family wishing to be accepted to our kibbutz was rejected.

One friend of mine was rejected from participating in a young leadership conference.

Another friend blogged about being rejected by her motherly peers.

My husband was rejected from a major building opportunity in our community.

The lesson learned (and so well written)… don’t attach any meaning to any rejection.

And though we know this, we forget to practice.

So, we are grateful for the reminders.  (Thank you, Jen.)

But, if we take a moment to look beyond rejection, we can consider the need to detach from…

Acceptance as well.

In other words, what if….

the family was accepted to the kibbutz?

Jen was accepted to participate in the conference?

Jordana felt accepted by her peers?

Boaz was accepted to supervise the major building opportunity in our community?

Then, what?

We would all be happy?  Forever?

Yes?

No.

Of course, not.

Did you forget about impermanence?

You see, there’s really no need to stay attached to our emotional reactions to anything (whether for good or bad)…

because they lead to suffering.

Which is what we do.

When we stay attached.

To anything.

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | February 24, 2013

On Equanimity – Model of Mindfulness Part II

Model of Mindfulness Part IIEquanimity definition: (Noun) – Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation, (Synonyms) – composure, calmnesss, poise, serenity, self – possession.

Where does this play out in the model of mindfulness?

Is there even a viable option to experience this?  Even for a moment?

I would argue that it is possible, but very difficult to achieve.

Like everything else, it’s a practice.

In short it’s about not attaching to your reactions.

Now, go try THAT!

 

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | February 12, 2013

Remember to remember, when you remember!

remember-brainOne of the biggest challenges I have with applying the techniques of mindfulness to everyday life situations is remembering to practice.

For example, I am a part of a group with 3 of my closest friends from New Jersey.  We’re working through a book which is based on the Jewish Mussar movement in which we focus and work on one personality characteristic (middah) for two weeks at a time.

So far, we have worked through gratitude, enthusiasm, joy, strength, loving-kindness and order.  We are currently up to equanimity.

My trouble?  Often I feel like the week passes and I completely forgot to work on the middah! 

For those who try to set intentions for each day, it seems quite common that many fall into the trap of forgeting it intention.

Sitting meditation certainly helps to remind us and support us with our daily intentions.  But, what if I don’t sit one morning?  The day has to go awry?

A friend of mine had a great idea for me.

To set my alarm clock on my cell phone.

For every morning.

So, when it rings (at the peak of chaos, when I’m in the middle of making breakfasts, lunches, changing diapers, and getting kids dressed for school), I will run to the phone to turn the alarm off  (or check why it’s ringing, because invariably, I will forget why I set it!), and I will remember my intention for the day.

And, that simple cue can make all the difference in my day.

Posted by: Shira Taylor Gura | February 7, 2013

When Faith is Your Anchor

faith We were graced with a guest from America for the past 3 nights.

Our guest was a religious Jew.

He has never heard about mindfulness, per say, but he certainly knew about maintaining his attention on the present moment.

He prayed three times a day with his best intention.

He took his hiking gear and ventured out, on his own, in completely unfamiliar territory to hike part of the “shvil Yisrael” (Israel path that leads from the northern most tip of the country to the south).

On his path, he traveled through both Jewish and Muslim/Bedouin towns.  He met up with many sheep and cattle.  And, a few potentially unfriendly dogs.

He hiked in the rain, alone, knowing the ominous weather forecast.

He got lost.

Several times.

He didn’t make it to his destination on time and missed his bus back to Jerusalem.

In the cold and mud, he was forced to continue on and figure out plan B.

Our guest was not a risky teenager.

Our guest was a father, a husband, a grandfather.

Simply wanting to connect with and enjoy the Land of Israel.

In this moment.

Some may call this kind of person naive.

Others may call him adventurous.

I would just say he was being mindful.

And, his anchor was faith (emunah).

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