Self Restraint

This week I have been thinking about the characteristic (middah) of self-restraint, sometimes translated as “separation.” We separate that which is harmful to us from that which supports our life journey. We might separate out the foods that make us healthy from those that make us feel unwell.

According to the mystics when we restrain from indulging in unhealthy foods or behaviors our minds and hearts are clarified. When we honor our bodies our souls become more open and aware of the spiritual light around us.

It is so difficult to believe that goodness exists when we over-indulge in gossip, jealousy, judgments or imagined wrongs. When we show self-restraint by abstaining from venting on social media or road-raging we find that there is beauty around us in the world and in our relationships. When we abstain from lamenting all we lack, our focus shifts to gratitude and we find we have more than enough to sustain us.

Kabbalah teaches us to enjoy our lives, experience our senses and follow our desires. However, our enjoyment is lessened when we act in the extreme. Good food is wonderful, but eating until we are sick is not. This is true in every part of our lives from what we ingest to how we behave; from how we save to how we spend; from how we talk to how we act; and from how we judge ourselves to how we judge others.

This week focus on abstaining from something you know is harmful to you. Then reflect on the experience and let me know how practicing self-restraint has affected your life.

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