Each morning after waking up and saying Modeh Ani (thanks to G-d for "returning my soul within me,” a person leans over the bed and washes his hands. A couple months ago we learned a sicha (short talk), "Pada B’Sholom Nafshi" from the previous Rebbe. In that talk, there is a brief, but powerful discussion about netilas yedayim (washing the hands). In chassidus, water represents chochmah (wisdom). The hands represent “midos (emotions) and at the end of the fingers are nails.” It says that in the Zohar the kelipot (shells) attach to the fingers. Therefore, we wash netilas yedasyim so as not to give nurture to the kelipot. In short explanation, kelipot conceal holiness. Think of the shell of a nut or the peel of a fruit, which covers the nut or fruit inside. Similarly, there are kelipot that conceal cleanliness, purity, expression, and so on. When the hands and fingers are washed with water it reflects hamshachas mochin l’midas, drawing down the mind over the emotions. Here we can learn that our mind should govern the emotions.
Sometimes we may feel emotional, and in the mornings when we may arise not feeling so well, this simple act can remind us to “wash” the emotions with the greater wisdom. One greater piece of wisdom being that this too shall pass and by practicing presence we can use our intellect effectively instead of react on emotions.