Presence of mind and Mindfulness
One of the biggest lessons taught by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is that the main job of the evil inclination is to take away our presence of mind, Mindfulness. The yetzer hara doesn’t want us to have any focus on what we’re doing, even if it is serving G-d. And he will even encourage us to do mitzvot and learn Torah but as long as we perform them without mindfulness. Without any idea or connection to why we are doing them.
This is the klipa (evil force) of Pharaoh, he made sure that the Jews had such intense labor in order to take away any chance of them focusing and connecting G-d.
The same applies to our generation and in our everyday lives. The evil force of Pharaoh manifested itself in our minds. Either he has us going insane with all of what the world of technology has to offer us.
Our phones don’t stop buzzing even for a minute. Our minds have been robbed of any focus we may have had. And the same applies even if we are busy with doing a mitzvah, we don’t even realize why we are even doing the mitzvah or learning Torah.
This eventually leads us to other bad traits such as arrogance and lusts, since there must be an alternative motive of our service to G-d. The klipa of Pharaoh makes us forget why we are even doing mitzvot or learning Torah and replaces the purpose with another without us even realizing.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov gives us the Advice to get our minds back and achieve as much mindfulness as we can.
He says; the only reason why we distant far from Hashem is that we don’t have mindfulness. And the cure for this He says is hitbodedut, which comes from the word ‘boded’ – being alone. Rabenu is giving us a remedy that is the only way gain our sanity back from all of the world’s insanity. Go be alone somewhere. Whether it’s in your room or in the forest or field.
Rav Ofer Erez teaches us that we need to approach the advice of hitbodedut in the following manner. At first, come to the forest to do absolutely nothing! Yes, nothing…
When we come to the forest or field with a grocery list of endless things that are driving us crazy throughout the day, then it is very easy to get frustrated with this and walk away. And again, the yetzer hara will have taken away our presence of mind.
Rather we need to come and start off the first fifteen minutes of our time alone with doing absolutely nothing. This means that we can look at the ants on the ground or throw some pebbles at the tree, maybe count the stars or even listen to music.
The main thing is to let our endless thoughts filter out on their own. And Rebbe Natan tells us that whatever went through our minds in this time of doing nothing is a huge Tikkun in itself and will allow us to move on to the next stage of our Hitbodedut.