Mindfulness and its place during wartime

judih, by jeremy chamard, 2004

From November 14 till November 22nd,  while Operation Pillar of Defense was going on, I had the opportunity to apply my practice of mindfulness.


It wasn’t easy getting into gear. I was sluggish, tired and serenaded by rocketfire, alerts and text messages all arriving with their own agenda.

But, I knew that a calm interior allows for more effective behaviour.

4 pebbles (synergy business, thnk u 4 the photo)

After my morning exercise, I’d sit up and do meditation (Pebble in my Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh)

and give the chance for the magic to work. Being mindful of the present moment and my participation within. So, with Tibetan singing bowl and pebbles, I started the day with calm.

Sometime later on, there’d be a chance for espresso and then a walk around the fields, watching and listening intently for sounds, all kinds of artillery or happily only birds and my own breathing. The view of the horizon was either pastoral fields, orange groves, fields, or the occasional spiral of smoke signalling warfare.

But, each step was a gift. I was alive. And the day beautiful, there for the enjoyment.

On our kibbutz, most members had fled for quieter territory (down south or to family members located far from the immediate, presumed zones of danger). Few people were to be seen.

But at night, solitude was truly felt. My partner, you see, was diligently at work, as the kibbutz night guard. This, he informed me, required him to drive out in his simple pickup truck close to the border with Gaza, into areas closer to rocketfall.

His job was to patrol the perimeters for the entire night, checking in with those stationed in our War Room, or lending a hand to anyone requiring assistance.  One night he met a couple of anxious parents who had driven  southward for an hour or so, searching for their son, a soldier stationed somewhere in our area. They had brought him a pizza, knowing he’d be hungry. Alas, they were forced to give up their search, and they offered that cold but glorious pizza to some other hungry soldiers.

Love yourself like you’d love a child.

So, I was home alone at night.  No problem, I thought. I wasn’t afraid.  But after 4 nights of burying myself under the duvet, I decided to try out the bed in our Safe Room.  For the first time in my life, I’d actually considered the Safe Room an option.

It worked – I felt safer and although I woke up each morning curled up like a snail, I was alive and whole.

At dawn, my partner would walk in, and along with a kiss, he’d share the number of rocket landings for the night or any other pertinent news. Then he’d go rest for the morning hours.



It’s funny. People talk about relationships and how they grow stale over the years. They urge separate vacations or who knows what else.  I don’t need a fix: I love him. I’m not looking for reasons to be separated; certainly not a war or attacks from rockets or mortars.  How different it all would be if he were in bed beside me.

But alas, under war circumstances, it makes sense to be apart. Chances are that one of us will survive. Darwin, you hear?

Mindful of logic, mindful of circumstance, mindful of puppet therapy or music or facebook therapy. All these stimulants render the present moment shareable.

Present moment therapy. Especially in wartime.


learning to love

How many years have I looked into the heart of another and opened my heart?

How many times have I felt the feelings of another and started to weep?

Have  I been deluding myself?

Is this connection or projection? Is it a meeting or a retreat?

Can I observe my own confusion and love it as I’d love it in another?

photo: Deanne Rotta

Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of ‘holding anger like a mother holding the baby’.

Lovingkindness is us, but anger is also us. So one part of us taking good care of another part.

Anger is a kind of energy that comes from ourselves. Lovingkindness is another kind of energy. Every time the energy of anger is there, we should invite the energy of lovingkindness to be there to take care of anger.

Ram Dass asks how that is done and the answer is mindful breathing as a practical way to take care – breathing in, I am angry. Breathing out I am taking care of my anger.

I wish to remind myself that all the parts that I observe – including confusion, are equally deserving of lovingkindness. I wish to remind myself that I cannot begin to take care of my students until I recognize that I and all my parts are equally deserving of my unbiased love.