The concept of “mindfulness” has emerged relatively recently as an important component of one’s well-being. Thrive RI, a new mindfulness meditation group, aims to encourage mindfulness as well as to nurture spirituality and Jewish values.
The group was founded by Rabbi Barry Dolinger of Congregation Beth Sholom in Providence; Rabbi Elan Babchuck, director of innovation at Clal (The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership) and a former rabbi at Providence’s Temple Emanu-El; and Nicole Jellinek, a psychotherapist and the president of Barrington’s Temple Habonim.
While not exclusively a Jewish group, Dolinger says Thrive RI is rooted in the idea of Judaism as a public good. Thrive RI is about to enter its second year, and, according to Jellinek, it’s already seeing healthy growth.
“Our original focus was on the integration of mindfulness practice, positive psychology and innovation,” says Jellinek. “We’re still interested in various types of mindfulness practice, but now we’re interested in offering a midday every-other-week mindfulness practice.”
Thrive RI’s first program of the year, called Answer the Call, was held on Sept. 18 at Swan Point Cemetery, in Providence. According to Jellinek, “participants engaged in a series of mindfulness practices [including] journaling, taking time, meditation, silent walking, drumming and nigun.” Jellinek reported being pleased with the turnout.
Answer the Call was part of a three-part series designed with the High Holy Days in mind. It was followed by Character Day, a global initiative organized by Let It Ripple Films.
According to Let It Ripple’s website, on Character Day, “groups around the world screen films on the science of character development from different perspectives” and discuss developing character strengths. Approximately 15 people attended and, after watching an eight-minute video, broke into discussion groups. Consulting a “periodic table” of character strengths, participants cited strengths they wanted to improve on, wrote “six-word memoirs” about their strengths, and told stories of people who personified a given strength.
The event was held in the building that houses the startup accelerator where Thrive RI operates, Providence’s Social Enterprise Greenhouse in Davol Square.
Thrive RI’s next event, a water meditation led by environmentalist/social entrepreneur Jyoti Sharma, will be held on Oct. 19. Sharma is the first Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Brown University.
One of Dolinger’s hopes is that this year, the group expands beyond the Jewish community. However, he says, they are very happy with the response to Thrive RI’s first year.
“There’s been great enthusiasm to this point. Between 300-400 unique individuals who want to remain connected,” Dolinger said. “The enthusiasm of others inspires us.”
For a full list of Thrive RI’s events, and to learn more about the group, go to thrive-ri.org.
ARIEL BROTHMAN is a freelance writer who lives in Wrentham, Massachusetts.