Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Emuna and Healthy Emotions

What if the idea of praying simply doesn't interest you? Maybe you spent one too many Yom Kippurs in synagogue as a child, feeling bored to death, and now you just can't get excited about the idea of talking to the Creator? The answer is that you can – you just need to understand what prayer, happiness and your soul have in common.

So how do you start feeling that you really want to pray? It’s simply through  revealing the G-dliness that you already possess in your own soul. People ask me all the time how they can feel the holiness of their own souls, and I tell them what Rabbi Arush says: by strengthening your emuna you reveal your holy soul because your soul, your emuna and your healthy emotions are one. When you’ll really get this, then you’ll feel like praying to G-d in every situation that you find yourself in.

Now the way to emotional health and happiness; the way to the end of confusing, overwhelming, painful emotions; emotions like anger, revenge, jealousy, sadness and fear is to create a stimulus barrier between you and the toxic external influences that cause you to become detached from your soul. Then these crippling emotions can’t creep into your mind.

This is where it can really help to speak to other people who have experienced how this works in their lives, or to read accounts of other people's miracles, and Heavenly salvations.

I am fortunate that I spend half my day amongst Torah scholars who work hard at shutting out the nonsense of this world and connecting to the truth of Torah and emuna. So I’m surrounded by a very healthy group of peers when I’m in yeshiva. I also work with a team of people at Breslev Israel who are all on fire to grow spiritually – from the secretaries and the computer techs to the guys who ship you your books and cd’s, the phone staff, the people in advertising and marketing each one is not only safe to speak with but growth-enhancing to speak to.  In particular I enjoy speaking with Rabbi Lazer Brody who helps me to clarify Rav Arush’s views on emuna and emotional health. My discussions with other Rabbis at the yeshiva such as Rav Elgrad and Rabbi Nosson Maimon have also been very helpful.
Clearly, the way out of emotional distress, worry, and senseless comparing yourself to others is to really commit to increasing the amount of time that you are living with emuna. You will accomplish this by learning to approach every-single event of the day with the belief that no matter what happens, everything is coming from G-d and it will ultimately be good for you.

You too must look for role models, to show you how to attain this goal.  If you want something enough you have to study with people who already know how to do it.  In this case, you will need two types of role models: one for how to learn the Torah and apply it’s laws, and another who can teach you how to use emuna to stay free from negative emotional reactivity – something that so many people are prone to today. This is why Rav Brody and I make such a good team.

If we're surrounded by “positive” role models, then we get conditioned to do good, positive, healthy things automatically, but unfortunately, the opposite is also true. We can be conditioned to get angry. We can be conditioned to get depressed. We can even be conditioned to become atheists (G-d forbid). If we are not on guard, we can easily get negatively reinforced by the very people we don’t wish to be like.

Let's see how this can work, in practice. Say you are feeling pretty happy and content but you work in a place where people are depressed and miserable. If you come into work overflowing with happiness, the depressed people may resent your being so happy. When they ask you how you are and you cheerfully answer: “I’m great, thanks. How are you?” They answer in a deadpan depressed tone: “Oh, me? I’m okay…” But what they are thinking is:  “Why does she deserve to be so happy when I feel like I have nothing to live for?”  Very quickly, without you realizing it you begin to feel bad for this depressed person. You start feeling guilty that you feel so good and happy about life and they don’t. Then you think that you’re happiness is just making them feel worse because it’s reminding them of how miserable they feel. This is where you are at risk of starting to tone down your happiness and justifying it because you “need to fit” in in your workplace. Continue right here...

Also recommended this week:

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - Riches on the Beach

By Jennifer Woodward - A Clean Home

By Rabbi Pinchus Winston - The Key to Freedom

Wishing you a happy and healthy Passover!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Comparison of Men's and Women's Brains

A fascinating new study of almost 1000 brains of young people show striking differences between the brains of men and women are noticible by the age of 13...

Shavua tov! Have a great week!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Friday, March 27, 2015

Patiently Waiting

A little while after Rebbe Nachman of Breslev had passed away; there was a wealthy man who suddenly lost all of his money. This man became extremely depressed at the turn his fortunes had taken. His condition worsened quickly and he decided that he was going to end his life by poisoning himself to death. Of course, he didn’t want to do that at home, so he decided to kill himself in synagogue instead, once everyone had gone home for the night, after the evening prayers.

He stowed his bottle of poison on top of a high shelf in the synagogue, and after everyone left the following night, he was groping around for the bottle when he accidentally pulled down the book that he had put the poison on top of - it was a copy of Rebbe Nachman's magnum opus, Likutei Moharan. In those early days, it didn’t say Likutei Moharan on the cover; it said “Never Give Up” printed in Yiddish on its cover.

This man was a holy Jew. He couldn’t ignore such an obvious message, so he re-stowed the poison away, and he went home to think about what had happened. That night, he had a dream, where he saw a young thin man with long side-locks - it was Rebbe Nachman himself. Rebbe Nachman told him that at the end of his short life, he was gravely ill with the Tuberculosis that ultimately killed him. As he was coughing up pints of blood on his deathbed, he pushed out his last words of Torah: "Never give up!"

He told the man: "Do you know who I was thinking of when I said those words? I was thinking of you! Now take my book, publish it and distribute it in as many places as you can and everything will be good." Continue here...

Also featured this week:

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - The Right Size

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - The First Step

By Racheli Reckles - Party Time

A wonderful Shabbos to all my friends!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Video: The Power of Judging Others Favorably

This true story is about a lady who forced herself to think good thoughts about the woman who fired her from her job. You'll be shocked to hear what happened when she did...

Have a wonderful day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Monday, March 23, 2015

Video: How to Create a Narcissist

A new study sheds light on how parents create narcissism in their children...

Have a wonderful day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why it's Good to Speak About Your Pain

Here's why speaking about what hurts can help...

Have a wonderful day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Video: Your Personal Redemption

On a personal level, the way out of "slavery" is to have a clean uncluttered mind that is able to both recieve and apply the wisdom of Hashem's Torah in your everyday life.

Have a wonderful week and a happy month of Nissan!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen