There is one behavior I have experienced come up in various ways that has limited how I live life and express it to the fullest. And it is the opposite of that which is the main intention of how to live a flexible and fluid, meaningful life. It is rigidity.
Rigidity has many expressions of it’s own, and one I became aware was expressing itself in other ways was the all-or-nothing mindset.
Ways an All-or-Nothing Mindset expresses itself
A behavior that is so ingrained in one’s brain that governs a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, can be very difficult to change. A person may become aware of one way a behavior manifests in his life, but it can express itself in other ways.
In my life, there are several things I prioritize and make sure to give enough time and space to. Currently, I have found a good balance in a few key areas: sleep, meditation, exercise, and following the yeshiva schedule. I was specifically wondering how to fit in enough sleep, exercise, and meditation before class. I experimented with meditating at different times of day, but I found that I felt much clearer on days when I meditated in the morning. Therefore, I decided to make it a priority to meditate in the morning whenever possible.
I was unaware of how much time I truly needed to practice in order to meditate effectively. As someone who has been meditating for years and has practiced for long periods of time, I believed that at least an hour was necessary. However, after speaking with a spiritual mentor, known as a "mashpia,” he recommended shortening the practice to just thirty minutes.
Although before shortening the practice I felt the nervousness in my body, I sat into the discomfort and meditated with a thirty minute timer. I quickly learned the importance of quality over quantity. Even though the duration was shorter, I was able to accomplish more in less time, therefore, acting more efficiently.
Since this lesson, our yeshiva moved upstate for summer learning and this practice continues to serve me fairly well.
Reintroducing activities like exercise
Similar to meditation, I experimented in yeshiva with exercise. Some days doing a little bit in the morning, and then, thinking it may be healing to not exercise - since one can hinder healing through exercise too. My “mashpia,” however, in listening to me share the pains I felt, encouraged me to do some light exercise in the mornings.
It donned on me that he’s been helping me reintroduce all of these important activities I engage in - particularly sleep, meditation, and exercise - only in a healthier way.
As I’ve written about the before in How to Enter Fully, “the flood of many-waters around meditation and other areas of life was there not to destroy them, but there to refine them.”
Seeking Help - Is it “all in your head”?
All the above lessons were helping, but there wasn’t yet a "refua shleyma," complete healing. After a while, one must really be honest with oneself to consider what’s going on.
What have I been doing all of these activities for anyways?
Over the past five years or so I have experienced deep pain and rigidity in the back of the head and neck. After some time, one hopefully learns that the mind is very powerful and therefore possible to think oneself to illness and/or to health. So I learned about and thought that perhaps I am just reaffirming this pain by thinking about it and talking about it.
Low and behold, with practices of proper sleep, meditation and learning where to place my attention, exercise, proper nutrition, all of the fascinating healing technologies and procedures, as well as learning in yeshivas, you have read about on my blogs or listened about on my podcasts, there was a lot of healing.
However, even with the powerful lesson I wrote about in Is the Physical Spiritual? , there was a residual, nuisance of a feeling lingering. So how did I respond? I went deeper - thinking positively, meditating, and so on. And whenever a thought of getting help would arise, I would choose different thoughts and redirect my attention because those thoughts are only continuing the pain. After being at meditation retreats and hearing other people share testimonials of healing, I must have thought there was no need to seek - other - help. Additionally, upon sharing the pain I felt, I would hear, “it’s all in your head.” In short, “you imagined it and it’s not real.”
And I think that - not seeking help - is the limitation. Although all the methods are healing the body, it’s more than okay to ask for help (even if a pain or illness is “in your head”). One shouldn’t limit the ways G-d wants to heal us by leaving the healing only to a supernatural way. In regard to "it's all in your head," working on the body also heals the mind.
This too was an expression of all-or-nothing: thinking that healing must all come through one way.
There’s a parable that accurately illustrates this lesson:
A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”
The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”
So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”
To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”
To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”
To say that G-d is unlimited is also limited. Furthermore, the answers to prayers manifest in nature as in the case of the parable.
Guidance From the Torah portion of Pinchas:
In the Sicha for Parshas Pinchas (Volume 18, P. 342FF, 5721/1961), The Rebbe discusses the contrast between the avodah (Divine Service) of Moshe Rebbeinu and that of Pinchas. Pinchas, as we learn at the end of parshas Balak, killed Zimri and the Midianite woman he was having inappropriate relations with. This action turned out to be proper, as G-d confirmed that Pinchas, “acted zealously for My sake among [the Jewish people].” Pinchas motivated the Jews to do teshuva (repentence/return).
Moshe Rebbeinu, however, also “turned My anger away from the Children of Israel.” For example, after the sin of the Golden Calf and the sin of the spies.
The difference between Moshe and Pinchas is in how they turned away G-d’s anger. While Moshe turned away G-d’s anger through prayer, Pinchas achieved the result through “acting zealously.” Moshe’s avodah stemmed from his soul, while pinchas avodah stemmed from the refinement of his body.
In one’s personal life, we manifest these two types of service. At times, in face of a challenge or struggle, we take the path of Moshe - we pray, learn Torah, meditate. However, what Pinchas came to teach me this past week is that it’s important to take the challenge face on. In addition to all the Moshe-like work - meditation, prayer, learning, etc. - I decided to seek a specialist, a doctor of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT).
In reality, the two avodahs are not an either/or question. Rather, they are united. Through the avodah of the soul and the avodah of the body, we open up ourselves to receive G-d’s blessings however He desires to bring it - naturally and/or supernaturally.
As the Jewish people are commanded to recite twice daily, "Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad" (Hear O Israel the Lord is Our G-d, the Lord is One). G-d as He is beyond nature is the G-d in nature. There’s only One.
New Healing Treatment I did🧠
The new physical treatment I did was Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT). It involves a doctor using their hands to manipulate the body to encourage natural healing. It turns out that other treatments I did such as chiropractic and craniosacral therapy are based on OMT. OMT takes a holistic approach looking at the whole body, while the other two emphasize one area. Additionally, OMT is performed by a doctor as opposed to a massage therapist. The treatment can be used to heal many conditions. One way is similar to chiropractic in addressing musculoskeletal problems, such as manipulating the spine and associated joints.
I had a very positive experience as the doctor helped align the occipital temporal junction bone.
In reviewing previous articles I wrote on this topic, I realized that this above lesson is a continuation and, hopefully, conclusion of learning this lesson.
Related to to physical healing
Related to All or Nothing
Takeaways & Questions:
Self healing and healing from another - it's all One.
It’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
Don’t stop searching until you know you’ve accomplished your goal
"It’s all in your head” doesn’t mean you can’t/shouldn’t get help and support
Where in my life do I have an all-or-nothing (black and white) mindset?
How can I exercise more flexibility in this area?
Do my prayers/intentions have something physical to manifest as? i.e A prayer for healing to manifest through a doctor or specialist.
Quote Rebbe Rashab in A Life-Changing Mashpia -
“Start 5 minutes of unwavering concentration. If one was being over-ambitious, he’d remind him that 5 minutes uninterrupted by extraneous thoughts is far superior to 15 seasoned by the occasional input of the yetzer hara.”