Welcome It In
In last week’s newsletter - “Find Your Inner Drunk” - I wrote about the state of mind, described as drunkenness, where one sees the Oneness in good and bad. In the last paragraph, I linked a few videos and podcasts about practices to exercise getting into this state of mind - as it is like a muscle one can build. I write about the challenges I experience and the tools and practices that help me internalize these messages. The discourse on Purim I shared a lesson about was really moving and meaningful because it really illuminates an internal challenge of worries and doubts we each experience. How each person experiences it takes on different shapes and ‘costumes,’ if you will, but these thoughts of limitation are just that: limitations and concealments from being in touch with the true self.
It’s easier said or written than practiced. Sometimes there are doubts, worries, frustrations, insecurities, and the like, that are very deep. With these dense concerns, it’s not so easy to practice and internalize seeing the light within them, thus having them no longer come up. And in the process of sitting with them it can feel very intense precisely because we may have distracted ourselves - in an obvious way or a subtle way - from looking at and learning from the discomfort. Additionally, there can be so much emotion tied around a certain aspect in life that prevents a person from seeing the thoughts and emotions for what they really are. They’re just thoughts and emotions, information to teach us something about ourselves. The discomfort we feel, though, is full of knowledge and information. That’s what it’s there for. It’s not to be resisted and pushed away, it too wants to be welcomed. In it’s welcoming is precisely where it will leave, leaving behind a valuable lesson and actual improvement for the host (you and me).
We are not identified by our thoughts and emotions. As mentioned earlier, thoughts carry information. “Thoughts are just thoughts” may seem contradictory to the teaching of the Baal Shemtov that, “you are where your thoughts are” and, therefore, who would want to go to a dark place within themselves? Yet, if we want to master our thoughts and emotions, we must gather the courage to go there.
This teaching was practiced by none other than Esther in the Purim story we read and the holiday we celebrated. Our ability to extract this lesson was illuminated in the discourse Maamer Zachor Purim 5717 #6 from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as well as from previous Rebbeim. As Queen, Esther threw two parties. In the first invitation she told the king, it was “prepared for him” and Haman was a guest, but at the second party, it was “prepared for them.” Esther elevated the position of Haman to that of the king. Esther elevated the ego to the level of G-d. The Mittler (Middle) Rebbe, however, brought up the teaching from the Mishnah Tractate Sotah 5a that of such a person of arrogance, “I and he cannot dwell together.” In addition to the teaching that it means the person with this personality would be out of alignment with G-d, it also means that everything is G-d, there is no I and he. Esther knew this. She had no fear of Haman because she knew where he came from and in welcoming him to the party for him and shining a light on him, the falsity of would fall away and the king would eliminate him.
In our lives we can learn from Esther by seeing the doubts and worries through to their end. Instead of ignoring them, resisting them, or distracting ourselves from them, we can take them on by (1) becoming aware of and naming the thought and/or emotion i.e it’s a doubt or fear (2) acknowledging and welcoming it i.e oh hello fear nice of you to show up thus extracting the lesson from it and (3) experiencing it being destroyed. With this greater understanding in mind, as well as an understanding that the process feels uncomfortable, you can also hold onto another teaching of the Sages in Shabbat 88b to “rejoice in the suffering.” Why? Because choosing to feel depressed by having these doubts and worries would only strengthen them. If Esther were afraid of Haman she would have not incited an ingenious plot to have him eliminated.
Shine a light on the doubt you may have - that you’re not healthy, overweight, insecure, not worthy, a victim, etc - and welcome it in. As it leaves, space opens for a new, empowering belief. I am healthy. I am releasing weight daily whether I see it or not. I am learning and growing. I am worthy. I am a creator and influence my environment - internally and externally - rather than a victim to it.
Now, as an example, we’re not working on our health with an unconscious belief that we’re not healthy or worthy of being healthy (because maybe someone told us this growing up and we accepted it). Instead, we are choosing to believe we are healthy and are constantly arriving into greater expressions of health. See yourself as healthy now. Find answers to prove that you are, even if you have thoughts that say you’re not. Those are not your thoughts. Focus on the evidence that you are healthy and generate feeling gratitude, as if you’re already healthy. Really, you are.