A couple of days ago, I was having a chat with my friend S.
We were talking about her sudden realisation that there is a ‘parallel universe’ going on in the world, that is not at all soft and fluffy, and that is the very antithesis of everything you and I want for the world, and for ourselves, and for our children and grandchildren.
That’s a terrifying thought.
And most people will quickly shut it down and run away from it – unless they are building the capacity to hold ‘truth’ in their minds and souls via regular talking to God sessions.
My friend has been doing hitbodedut, on and off, for a while already.
But she said to me:
I don’t get the same sort of ‘messages’ you get from God.
I told her I don’t believe that.
EVERYONE is getting messages from God all the time, regardless of whether or not they are actually talking to Him every day.
So then we got into a very interesting discussion about what a ‘message from God’ actually is.
My friend asked me to write about it, because she thinks it will help more people out there to take themselves, and their spiritual connection to God, seriously.
So this post is in her zchut.
Very, very rarely, do I get what most people would think of as a ‘message from God’ in my hitbodedut – i.e. some sort of statement or clearly stated answer to a problem I’m grappling with.
It does happen occasionally, but most of the time, God is actually sending the ‘messages’ via a much simpler route, namely:
There has been a war on humanity recognising our true feelings for well over a century.
And probably even longer.
But let’s deal with the most recent bit of this ‘war’ against the part of our soul that goes by the name ruach.
The story starts with the cocaine-using Sigmund Freud.
A lot of the families in Viennese high society were riddled with horrible, unspeakable acts of child abuse and incest.
When Freud started psychoanalysing his patients, a lot of these disturbing memories and stories started to leak out in those sessions.
At some point, Freud realised that if he pursued this line of action – i.e. openly linking people’s mental issues and soul-disfigurement to all the abuse and trauma they’d suffered in childhood – he would be totally shunned in Viennese society and made persona non grata.
So instead, he took the coward’s way out, and sold out abused children for at least the next 60-70 years, by claiming all these ‘memories’ of terrible child abuse and incest by parents were repressed ‘Oedipal’ tendencies.
In other words, he totally and utterly lied.
And he totally and utterly invalidated these children’s traumatic experiences, and memories and even more crucially, their feelings.
It’s hard for me to not think that Freud himself must have been morally compromised from the start, to have done that.
But I guess we won’t know until Moshiach comes and shows us exactly what’s been going on.
What is beyond a doubt is that the ‘legacy’ of Freudian psychoanalysis has led to some of the worst crimes against humanity being covered up and repressed for well over a hundred years.
It’s a classic ‘gas lighting’ tactic of narcissistic abusers to keep telling their victims that they can’t trust their own memories, their own experiences, their own minds, their own feelings.
And Western society has been built on a paradigm that encourages parents to ‘socialise’ their children out of feeling what they really feel, and out of trusting themselves on a deep soul level.
Modern society shames people – especially women – for feeling.
It calls us names like ‘over-emotional’, and ‘weak’, and even ‘bi-polar’ and ‘clinically-depressed’ – when really, all these feelings we have, some of which can sometimes be overwhelming and debilitating, are just reactions to things we are experiencing in the world.
Clinically depressed people have ALWAYS had some sort of severe emotional neglect and / or abuse in the past, usually from a parent in a childhood, and especially from a mother.
Clinical depression is just an extreme form of the FREEZE response to being placed under chronic or acute stress.
And as such, it’s a perfectly ‘normal’ reaction, albeit not a pleasant or useful one.
No-one’s ‘brain is broken’.
Once people understand that all of their emotional states – even extreme ones – contain messages from God about what they need to deal with, recognise, work on, change or accept, the ’emotional state’ itself gets way, way easier to work with and tame.
Same with things like ADD – which is just an extreme FLIGHT response to acute or chronic trauma.
Give me any ‘mental health issue’, and I guarantee it’s rooted in some sort of unpleasant experience, or experiences, or fear, or ‘stress’, that the person’s primitive brain is reacting to.
(If you’re interested, I wrote a whole book on how the stress response reacts in different people, called People Smarts, which you can find on Amazon HERE.)
The point being, that God uses our feelings to communicate some very important messages to us.
For example, so many of my ‘messages’ come from a feeling I have that something is not quite right with a certain picture, or person.
In the past, when my ‘BS-O-Meter’ would start to ping off, I would often just try to ignore it or bury it. I’d been socialised by society to keep talking to creeps and yucky people even when they were making me uncomfortable.
That put me into some very vulnerable positions, because the ‘difficult characters’ out there quickly recognise when they are dealing with someone who can’t stand up for themselves when they need to – and that’s when life can get very unpleasant, very quickly.
Now, when it dings off, I pay very careful attention to it.
In my hitbodedut, I’ll go back in and I’ll try to figure out why a certain something, a certain someone, is making me feel stressed, unhappy, nervous, angry, on edge – whatever it might be.
I can’t always pin it down – and it’s not always the other person’s problem, either, sometimes they are just triggering something that is entirely my issue to deal with.
But the point is, that God is sending me that ‘feeling’ as part of a message that needs to be decoded and analysed.
Once I learned to start respecting my own feelings, and to give them the ‘space’ they needed for me to really know what it was I was actually feeling, my extreme mood swings pretty much disappeared overnight.
Now, I have no problem standing up for myself against all the creepy, yucky people out there, and as a result, my life is way less complicated and much, much happier than it used to be.
But ‘feeling’ messages can also work in a positive way, too.
When I didn’t know anything about the Rav, Rabbi Berland, for example, my starting point was a feeling that something was ‘off’ in all the reporting about him.
I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly, but it just didn’t feel right.
That’s when I started doing my own research to see what was really going on, and that’s when I started to unpick the whole, sordid story of how the Rav had been framed by the same evil people who are now pulling the ‘COVID-19’ con trick on us all, via the media.
But even when I had a bunch of information that seemed to show the Rav was totally innocent of any of the charges that had been fabricated against him, I still took a few months to really work through what my soul was telling me about him.
When I thought about the Rav, what was the feeling I got?
Calm and happy, or uneasy and anxious?
Time and time again, when I explored my real feelings in hitbodedut, I got the ‘calm and happy’ vibe back.
That’s what gave me the courage to cautiously approach the Rav more, and to risk being more part of his community.
But even then, anytime I got even a whiff of the BS-O-Meter going off, I stopped to explore it in my hitbodedut, and to work out the messages that God was trying to give me.
Not everyone around a True Tzaddik is a true tzaddik themselves, and yucky people automatically gravitate to positions where they can have a ‘presumption of innocence’ and trust.
Thank God, really, for all the persecution of Shuvu Banim and the Rav.
Because it smoked out so very many of the ‘yucky’ people, who quickly peeled off and went somewhere else, where they didn’t have the whole world poking holes in their cover stories and actively seeking out their misdeeds and bad middot.
The people who are left are, for the most part, some of the best people in the world.
They are people who have been constantly humiliated and disgraced – and who have continued to stand up for the Rav, and continued to try to do what’s right, even at great personal cost to themselves.
But I digress.
Most people today have been totally cut off from feeling their own feelings, and owning their own emotions.
We are the ‘Prozac’ generation, who were taught that any feeling that is not fake happy is somehow bad and requires medication.
But all feelings – even ‘bad’ feelings – are actually just messages for us to decode, and clues from Hashem that are being sent to lead us forward in life, somehow.
Feelings are part of the soul level called ruach.
The soul level associated with the physical body and ‘reptilian brain’ is called the nefesh, or animal soul.
The soul level associated with our mind, higher functioning and connection to God is called the neshama.
And the soul level ‘in between’ these two extremes of ‘animal’ and ‘angel’ is the ruach.
The ruach is the part of the brain that’s actually feeling things.
Then, there’s a fight that goes on between the ‘animal’ brain and the ‘angelic’ brain to frame our feelings correctly.
When we do hitbodedut regularly – and we try to adopt a more emuna-dik, God-centric approach to life – that strengthens the ‘angel’ brain, and weakens the ‘animal’ brain’s grip on us.
When the ‘angel brain’ is in the driving seat, and ruling over the ‘animal brain’, our extreme emotional states, mood swings and physiological stress responses start to calm down.
BUT ONLY WHEN WE’RE TAKING THE TIME TO ACKNOWLEDGE ANY REAL ‘DANGER’, AND TO NOT JUST PUSH IT UNDER A MENTAL CARPET.
Let’s use some real-life examples.
If there is a situation or a person that makes you feel very tense – that’s usually a big clue from God that there is ‘something’ there that you are finding threatening or unpleasant.
If you feel wrung-out or down or depleted or ‘missing’ after an interaction, that’s usually a big clue that the other person is sucking way more energy out of you, than they are giving in return. All relationships are give and take, but if you are always the one giving – that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
For me personally, if I start to feel that someone is trying to manipulate me emotionally with guilt trips or ‘save me’ stories (who aren’t my kids…), I will pull back sharply and put up a barrier.
In the past, I used to feel so bad for other people, I could really get taken advantage of.
Now, when I get that ‘uncomfortable’ feeling in the pit of my stomach, I don’t push it down, I listen to it, and I make a conscious decision whether I still want to engage with the other person, or not.
All this stuff is part of the ‘conversation’ I have with God – and of course, with myself.
The last thing I wanted to touch on in this post, is that the concept of da’at, of ‘knowing’, can’t really be translated into words, it has to be experienced.
Sometimes, the da’at you get in hitbodedut, in talking to God, totally transcends even things like ‘feelings’ or ‘thoughts’.
So many times, I find myself knowing something, but without being able to explain how I have that knowledge, or why I know it to be true.
That is also how Hashem gives us messages.
And I think that’s probably the most sublime way, Hashem gives us messages.
Any one out there can get ‘messages’ from Hashem, starting today.
All that’s required is a bit of patience, a bit of work to reconnect to feelings that may have been in the deep freeze for decades, and a bit of courage to follow the truth and the da’at and the direction you’ll get from shemayim, wherever it might take you.
As the world of lies continues to implode, we will need that strong connection to Hashem to keep going through the darkness, and to discern the real light at the end of the tunnel, when it shows up.
Start small, just five minutes a day.
Or even one minute.
But also remember that God is talking to us via everyone and everything 24/7, and that we are constantly surrounded by opportunities to get to know Him – and ourselves – better.
Don’t be scared to feel, even if those feelings start off overwhelming and ‘angry’.
They are a part of your ruach – mamash, a part of your soul.
And when you make space for them, and really listen to the messages they contain, you’ll see how fast your life starts to transform for the better, and how quickly your feelings become your best friends.
If you want me to try to explain more about anything here, or about other aspects of talking to God, let me know in the comments.
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