I talked last week about a new and different approach to mental wellbeing. An approach that is very much in line with the Torah’s perspective – that we are souls created butzelem Elokim. And that our inherent G-dliness is the only place to seek psychological health and resilience.
As Shlomo Hamelech said, ‘God made man straight; but he sought out many calculations’. We are created perfect, with exactly what we need to accomplish our purpose of cvod shomoyim. It’s just that we are placed in an ‘olom hosheker’, as chazal refer to olom hozeh, and we get ourselves confused by trying to work it all out. But olom hozeh can’t be worked out. The more you try to do so, the more you simply engage yourself in it. When we stop working it out and return to a purer sense of self, everyone has the wherewithal to find peace of mind and a deep sense of connection to Hashem.
I have seen the incredible results of this approach over and over again. When you awaken the spiritual essence of a human being they can’t help but see life very differently.
But what’s behind it and how does it work?
First and foremost, it’s educational, not therapeutic. And that’s really important. We believe that ‘talmud mayvey liyday maaseh’, learning brings doing. The more deeply you know something, the more it naturally becomes a part of your life. When a child learns about the heat of a fire and that knowledge sinks in, you no longer need to tell him not to go near, he will stay away of his own accord. The more deeply a person knows that it’s wrong to steal, the less inclined he is to steal. When a person knows how to drive a car, he doesn’t think about how to do it anymore, he gets in and drives. Knowledge that is experienced naturally becomes a part of our lives.
So too with Innate Health. I find that simply teaching people the ideas, and allowing them to have their own understanding, seamlessly changes the way they live their lives. There are no exercises, no tools and no techniques. It’s the power of understanding; the power that wisdom has when it reaches deeply into the human heart.
We teach about three principles that are the progenitors of all human experience. I am going to talk about the first principle this week and the other two in my next article.
The first principle is Thought, not thoughts per se, but the power of thought. Consider for a moment that all of our experience happens via the medium of our thoughts. If I don’t have a thought about something, then it does not exist in my world. Someone might be coming up behind me with a knife, but if I don’t know he’s there I don’t have the ‘thought’ of him being there, so I will experience no fear. Equally, there might be no one behind me, but the thought of someone being there can be as terrifying as if he is. That’s because the essence of what we experience is our thinking and nothing else.
And all thoughts come with feelings; stronger or weaker feelings depending on the thought, be there is always a feeling attached. Thought creates feeling. No thought, no feeling. No thought of a person behind you, no fear. Yes thought of a person behind you, yes fear. It’s a simple, but by no means simplistic, model of human experience.
As another example of how all of our experience is thought, consider when you have cut yourself but been too busy to notice. At some point later you notice that you are bleeding and at that exact moment it begins to hurt. Until then, your thinking has been busy elsewhere, so the thought of pain did not register. Now that the thought of pain registers, the feeling of pain begins. Once again the thought is the experience and it brings the feeling in its wake. There is no human experience that doesn’t work this way.
That’s the first of the 3 principles, the principle of Thought. You might agree this makes sense, but that’s not overly helpful. The extent to which a person understands this idea and then sees it in their own life is the extent to which their experience looks different. For example, if a person genuinely sees depression or anxiety as an experience of their own thinking, it doesn’t look quite as concrete to them as if they believe it to be something genuine. Because what is thought? How tangible is it really? Is it set in stone, or is it moment to moment experience that quite naturally flows through us if we allow it to?
I’m going to expand on this next week, but in the meantime I’d like to leave you with a question to consider. And that is, where does our thought come from? Who or what creates our thoughts? Is it us, or do they come from elsewhere? Think about it and that’s where I’ll start next week.