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Unleashing Our Potential: Mindfulness & Parshat Pinchas

Unleashing Our Potential: Mindfulness & Parshat Pinchas

In Pinchas, this week’s Torah portion, we learn about two situations where people come forward to passionately act on their beliefs: Pinchas the high priest and grandson of Aharon, and the daughters of Tzelolfhad.

Pinchas sees Bnei Yisrael, the children of Israel, consorting with foreign women and engaging in idol worship. One such person, Zimri, was a prince of the tribe of Shimon -- a dignitary of sorts -- and was flaunting his immoral behavior in public. Pinchas dares

to be the judge and executioner and kills Zimri on the spot. Because of his action,

the punishment of a plague is stayed and the people are saved.

But for our sages, it is not so simple, as they are divided and conflicted about his move since it was effectively executed without a trial. Pinchas acted on his own out of his zealotry. The rabbis teach that this was a one time situation, and that we should not contemplate taking similar action into our own hands.

Later on in the parsha, we read another story, about the courageous and idealistic daughters of Tzelofhad. Their father died, and they went to Moses to ask for their inheritance in the Land of Israel, something that up until that time was assumed would only go to sons, not daughters.

"Let not our father’s name be lost to his tribe just because he had no son!" they said. The daughters stood up for what they knew to be right and mustered the courage to advocate for themselves and for others.

Both Pinchas and the daughters of Tzelofhad were passionate and took action based on their beliefs. In so doing, they fulfilled their potential despite the risks.

We all have potential. How can we cultivate this potential?

What are you passionate about? What is important to you?

First of all, clarifying your values is a good place to start.

As you clarify what is important to you and what you are passionate about, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind :

1) Know Yourself

When you truly know yourself, when you honestly recognize your strengths and weaknesses, you can see what you want to improve in yourself and move in that direction. But it always begins with honestly knowing yourself.

For example, if you wish to become more efficient in your work, you have to be transparent with what’s holding you back — perhaps you put things off or need help to organize your time.

2) Let Go of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is not healthy and does not help us achieve what we want; it’s not the same as trying to be our best. The perfect is the enemy of the good. We should strive to improve ourselves, not by being overly self-critical, but rather from a place of looking at ourselves in a non-judgemental, calm and level-headed manner.

3) Push Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone

To grow and reach your potential, it’s important to take on challenges that push you outside of your comfort zone. Over time, you might feel confident in taking on even bigger challenges.

To quote Brene Brown, “you can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both.” Stepping outside of your comfort zone, into what is referred to as the “growth zone,” isn’t comfortable! This doesn’t necessarily mean diving into the deep end, but rather finding a healthy balance.

In what areas of life do you choose to stay in your comfort zone?

Where could you push yourself more?

4) Think of What really Matters to You

What do you believe in? What brings you the most joy or gets you excited?

It could, for example, be exploring new places, relationships, learning a new skill, or volunteering in your community.

How do you figure out what really matters to you?

Try “meditating on it!"

Let’s try this Mindfulness Practice for exploring what’s important to you

Start by defining your core values by asking yourself what you must have in your life to feel fulfilled. Some examples of core values are family, creativity, prosperity, wellness, adventure, knowledge, justice, and gratitude.

Here are a few questions to help you define your core values:

* If you had to immediately evacuate your home, what important objects would you pack?

*What values are indispensable to your life?

*What values are crucial to supporting your inner self?

Mirabai Bush, a fellow at the Center for the Contemplative Mind and mindfulness teacher, teaches this mindful practice:

Sit quietly, breathing in and out.