Sunday, August 10, 2014

// // 6 comments

Doubts Constantly Cloud My Mind



Doubts Constantly Cloud My Mind

 by Reb Gutman Locks     


Shlomo wrote:

     I started becoming much closer to Hashem and the Torah about 7 months ago and I started having set times for Torah learning and prayer 3 times a day. I can easily say that those were the most happy and exciting days of my life, every word was sweeter than honey.

     But at some point I got this big question that hit me in the back of my mind that I'm afraid of even typing, "Who is this God that I'm serving?" The question got louder and louder and soon I could barely focus on anything I did. I would get angry at everything and eventually fell into a tough depression which I'm still dealing with. I've come to the point where I'm barely even capable of praying because I feel like I don't even know who I'm praying to.

     Also, whenever I try to learn Torah I feel this very uncomfortable anxious feeling in my stomach that makes me sick because I keep asking myself, "What am I even learning about?"

     All of these doubts constantly cloud my mind that sometimes I take long naps just so that I can run away from all of the thoughts in my mind. This phase I'm going through makes everything so hard, even simple things like talking to other people, because no matter what I do I feel like I have no idea why I'm doing it.

     There are also other scary thoughts that bombard my mind at times that I don't know how to deal with and I don't know where to start when it comes to bringing back that beautiful happiness that I had in serving God that I experienced in the beginning. I've really dug myself into a deep hole and I would really love your opinion and advice on what I should do to help bring myself back to the love of Hashem and the love of the Torah as one, because now I can barely see the connection between God and the mitzvot even though I know in my mind that there definitely is a connection.

     Thanks so much for your time Rabbi and I hope that you can help me with my predicament. Hashem should bless you.

 

Gutman's response:

     The first thing you have to do is to release your attachment to your uncomfortable thoughts. The easiest way to do this is; whenever an uncomfortable thought comes, no matter what it is, simply know that the feeling of discomfort is a sign that you are to immediately, "watch your breath."

     This means that you are to calmly turn your attention to your breath, and notice the way the air feels as it passes in and out of your nose. Do not take a deep breath, but merely focus on the feelings in your nose as the air passes in and out.   

     At first, you may become aware of the pressure of the air against the inside of your nose, or you may be able to sense its temperature as it moves in and out… whatever the sensation, it does not matter. All that matters is that you focus on the feelings of the air as you breathe in and out of your nose. Then, as your attention leaves your breath, simply return to feeling the breath, over and over again.

     After you have watched your breath move in and out a few times, remember that it is Hashem Who is breathing your breath in and out. Then, go back to focusing on the sensation of the air.

     You should do this every time an uncomfortable thought comes, and continue watching your breath for a minute or two after you feel calm. Then, if another uncomfortable thought comes, return to watching your breath.

     As to why these thoughts come…simply stated; they come because you are interested in them. The mind wants your attention. Also, when you begin to grow spiritually you become more sensitive and open, so unless you fill that new openness with holy thoughts, your mind will be filled with whatever thoughts you strongly attach to.

     In addition to releasing your attachment to those negative thoughts by doing this exercise, you must also learn to fill your mind with positive thoughts.    

     There are always positive things happening in life, and there are always negative things happening in life. Whichever of them you pay attention to will determine your mood, your mindset, your daily experience in life. So, after you have relaxed your concern about your negative thoughts by watching your breath, see how many positive things you can think of.

     You must learn to be strict with this, and whenever negative thoughts come, immediately think of some of the good things that are going on in your life, and or focus on your breath. You have to train yourself to take these steps as soon as you have a negative thought.

     As to your question regarding the existence of G-d; the fact that you know that there is existence answers your question. G-d's most holy name means Existence. G-d is Infinite, therefore He is All, but He hides to allow us freewill. Because He is hiding we see ourselves as separate, individual, finite beings. This is a very narrow perspective of the truth. The higher, broader perspective shows that G-d is All, and there is nothing else.

     If you try these recommendations they will certainly solve your problem. Obviously, if you do not do them, they cannot be a help to you.

     Try them, and soon you will see that you are not subject to your mind, but that your mind is subject to you.

Shalom

6 comments:

Jeffrey Rosner said...

Rabbi Locks those are great techniques to help Shlomo. May I respectfully refer Shlomo to the morning blessings(Peah 1:1) which daily remind us to do deeds of kindness, bringing hospitality to strangers, visiting the sick etc. Our mission is to bring light to the world by doing. Shlomo, Perhaps you will find more purpose in your davening by helping others. Please Hashem, May it be So. All the Best.

Cuty Kids said...

I've gone through the same thing a few years ago, but I figured differently. I think many people, especially baalei tshuva are not built for "serving Hashem" as you put it. It's especially true of people who're more sensitive, because they actually think about what they say in davening and learning. From my personal experience, it was a great way for me to get very very confused, and you know where confusion leads to... So what I had to do in order to retain my sanity was STOP davening and learning. Instead I focused more on doing practical things that help make this world a better place (working for a living being one of them)... I still put tefillin every day, and I am happy that I became a baal tshuva and returned to my heritage, and that I have gone to yeshiva and learned the basics of what my heritage is about, but what people call "serving Hashem" meant for me spending hours on things which ultimately lead to confusion. I'm sorry but I cannot relate to infinity, and I have no idea whom I was speaking to in davening. My understanding is that everybody has to find their level - if you see that davening and learning makes you a better, more balanced person, than by all means. But if after davening or learning you feel confused or depressed, than perhaps look for a different way to "serve" good in this world

Daniel said...

I agree with Cuty Kids. The moment you open the word you begin your journey of knowledge. In the beginning one even reads what happens when you accept this knowledge. I seem to be drawn back to the beginning in my studies.

The Book of Bereishit (Genesis):
Chapter 2

8 And HaShem G-d planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.
9 And out of the ground made HaShem G-d to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Book of Bereishit (Genesis):
Chapter 3

1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which HaShem G-d had made. And he said unto the woman: 'Yea, hath G-d said: Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?'
2 And the woman said unto the serpent: 'Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;
3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, G-d hath said: Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.'
4 And the serpent said unto the woman: 'Ye shall not surely die;
5 for G-d doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as G-d, knowing good and evil.'
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves girdles.

You have to ask yourself, is having knowledge good? Even Daniel says the following.

The Book of Daniel:
Chapter 12

12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

We know from the beginning having knowledge was not a good thing. To me, having knowledge puts the responsibility on your shoulders. Ask yourself what type of world you live in with all the knowledge we have today. What has mankind chose to do with this knowledge? We should be living in times of peace with this knowledge, but we are far from that.

Mankind didn't even know they were naked until they made the choice. Once they made this choice, the blame game started, woman blamed the serpent, man blamed the woman, and punishment was handed down for disobeying G-d. I'm not convinced having knowledge is a good thing, and look at what we do to our children, they are full of knowledge.

David said...

Let me respectfully disagree with Daniel as

Learning, at least Torah, is a mitzva in and of itself, and saying knowledge is not a good thing is somehow frightening.

Actually in a sens it goes completely against what makes us Jews, generations and generations of Talmudic scholars and of Halakha poseks. How could you know what G.d wants from us, distinguish right from wrong if not by opening a shulkhan aroukh or any kind of book refering to it and study what mitzvos are you committed to perform? When you help your fellow Jew you have to do it G.D's way.

A "common sens" yet probably too simple example would be feeding a poor Jew a cheese and meat hamburger..You nourished the poor guy but damaged his soul. How could you know how to feed him the Jewish way if not by opening a book on Kashrus?

I just read this little shiur in my daily e-mail newsletter today, and I think it to be very appropriate to this discussion...just in time don't you think?

Daily Torah Thought
The order of acquiring knowledge
Posted: 10 Aug 2014 02:05 AM PDT
Hi,

"The Sages also mentioned that one is first charged regarding knowledge of Torah, then he is charged regarding knowledge of [general] wisdom, and then he is charged for the Torah he should learn, meaning to draw from it that which he should perform. So the order should be, that [Torah] concepts should be known first via tradition and then clarified via [logical] proof, and then the deeds which improve one's path should be deduced.

"This is what they said (Talmud, Shabbat 31a), regarding a person being expected to achieve these three items in this order: when one enters [posthumous] judgment, they first say, 'Did you set time for Torah? Did you analyze with wisdom? Did you understand one thing from another?'"

(Rambam, Moreh haNevuchim 3:54)"

You can subscribe to it too, it all takes 3 little paragraphs per day to learn something new.

As R. Friedman says Strength comes from knowledge of good/bad.
If you are not happy/unsatisfied with your learning don't despair, just orient your learning towards your liking, be it Kashrus, Emuna, shabbos, general acts of Headed etc.. Ask G.d for strength and DON'T GIVE UP!!!

Daniel said...

David, I respect and thank you for your comments. In regards to the article, Shlomo states the question, who is this G-d that they are serving? I think there are those who can relate to this question, myself being one of them. I don't think the Torah gives bad guidance about life.

My point was, in the beginning, G-d commanded man and woman not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. According to Torah, G-d never intended for mankind to have knowledge, of course we know Gadreel led the woman astray. According to Enoch; "For men were created exactly like the angels, to the intent that they should continue pure and righteous, and death, which destroys everything, could not have taken hold of them, but through this their knowledge they are perishing, and through this power 12 it is consuming me."

Now, the Torah speaks of Enoch in the following way.

The Book of Bereishit (Genesis):
Chapter 5

18 And Jared lived a hundred sixty and two years, and begot Enoch.
19 And Jared lived after he begot Enoch eight hundred years, and begot sons and daughters.
20 And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years; and he died.
21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begot Methuselah.
22 And Enoch walked with G-d after he begot Methuselah three hundred years, and begot sons and daughters.
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years.
24 And Enoch walked with G-d, and he was not; for G-d took him.

So Enoch, who walked with G-d, states that knowledge consumes mankind. When you look at the world today, what has knowledge done for us? We have been in this world for thousands of years, and we continue to do the same thing, generation after generation, kill and destroy expecting a different result every time.

Daniel said...

Just to add, once a person has knowledge of Torah (the way of life) it is their responsibility to share that way of life with others. G-d changed his mind in the past, he can change his mind again. To think that Torah observers are flocking back to the land of Israel and removing Torah from their lands is amazing. I know what the Torah says about Jews returning to Israel, but I see it as the children of Israel removing the word of G-d from the rest of the world. According to prophecy, we know what happens next, all nations rise against Israel. To me, I understand why, it's what happens when the word of G-d is removed from the world. I would love to have complete understanding of Torah, and teach to my children. I have limited knowledge and the Shul in my area has been closed for years. The responsibility is on those who have the knowledge. I'm tired of seeing a shrine on every corner, but the only Shul of truth is closed? Spread the way of life instead of consolidating to one area. G-d will defend his people, will the people defend G-d?

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