The Spirituality and Mindfulness Summit is an opportunity for teens to have a new, stress-free, and calming experience before we kick off International Convention, which can be all kinds of crazy and overwhelming. The ideas of spirituality and mindfulness are very important to me, and definitely things I am passionate about bringing into Judaism and sharing with others. We kicked off Wednesday’s programming at 4:30 PM. While waiting for the busses, Shalom Mayberg, a JEI expert, led us in some yoga poses. Afterward, we went around the room and everyone shared how doing this made them feel: “Relaxed.” “Stretchy.” “Calm.” “Awake.” It was easy to see that the mood in the room immediately shifted, and the excitement of how the next 24 hours would go grew immensely.
We soon headed to A Taste of Denver, with a variety of styles of food trucks. “It was great to see all my summer program friends and eat some yummy food from local Denver eateries,” said Rachel Rothenberg, a Junior from Michigan Region, and attendant of the Spirituality Summit.
When we finally arrived back, it was time to begin. Ethan Fine, a Junior from North Texas Oklahoma, and the AZA Coordinator of the summit, and I, Yakirah Mitchel, a Junior from Michigan Region, and the BBG Coordinator of the summit, led some fun, mindfulness-focused icebreakers to set the scene. We started with speed dating, which was a great success. The energy in the room was full of passion and happiness, as participants discussed their favorite ways to de-stress, how they practice mindfulness at home, and more. We then moved into a four corners type activity, where Ethan and I read a series of statements, and teens would either go to a wall saying they agreed, strongly agreed, disagreed, or strongly disagreed. This activity helped everyone feel a bit more comfortable with each other and prepare for the rest of the summit.
Soundscapes is surely an experience like no other. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to focus on myself before the craziness of convention,” says Aliza Reinstein. In soundscapes, Shalom Mayberg uses several “sound bath”-type instruments that cause several types of reactions and feelings amongst attendees; this could mean hearing the sounds at a louder volume, seeing certain patterns of colors, going through an out-of-body experience, or even physical pain or throbbing. This was the perfect way to unwind after a long day of traveling for many, as we moved into the Ma’ariv that Ethan and I led.
Thursday we were lucky to have guest Sarah Waxman to teach us about what it means to be spiritual and mindful, before Ethan and I moved into our separate programs. My program was color therapy using mandalas and the basis of Jewish values. There were several Jewish-themed coloring page mandalas to choose from, with “color therapy” meanings in addition to Jewish morals and values I felt best fit their traditional definition. Coloring is a common mindfulness practice, one that is great for de-stressing, as it allows you to focus on just one thing. While coloring was going on, Ethan was leading his own program in the room next door. They played Chameleon, a high-stress, usually loud board game, but with a twist. Every so often, Ethan would stop them to discuss how in real life we often find ourselves in stressful situations: How do we take a minute to breathe? After a few rounds, he would let them stop themselves and discuss.
After both of our programs, we taught the delegates how to make their own mantras using four categories: Jewish values, Traditions, Prayers, and Chakras. This was a great way to end the summit, and gives them something tangible to take through all of IC.
Overall, The Spirituality and Mindfulness Summit was the perfect way to calm your mind and connect with yourself and friends before fully entering International Convention 2019.
Yakirah Mitchel is a BBG from Michigan Region, has been a vegetarian her whole life, and loves garbanzo beans.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Noach, is a story of struggle and strength.
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