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Think Good!
Rumination is the process of compulsively rehashing bad feelings and experiences from the past. This type of thinking impedes people from moving forward and is considered a risk factor for anxiety and depression.

For people who have a tendency towards rumination, is it possible to suppress or at least reduce the frequency of negative thoughts? A recent study, published in the journal “Clinical Psychological Science,” posits that it’s possible to learn to control rumination through a simple exercise that takes up to half hour per day. The exercise uses a technique called “executive control activation,” which is the brain process that allows us to filter out unwanted stimuli when we focus on a specific task (such as reading or driving a car). Intrusive thoughts about the past are a distraction from dealing constructively with challenges and achieving our goals. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Noga Cohen, commented, “This research taught us that it is possible to prevent negative emotional stimuli from affecting our behavior, physiology and brain processes.”

Well before this concept was studied and analyzed by cognitive scientists, Chassidic teachings have emphasized that by its nature, the brain (cognition) controls the heart (emotion). However, putting this into practice requires lifelong discipline. Learning to think critically and objectively rather than emotionally about our struggles lifts us up and enables us to meet any challenge without falling prey to panic. The state of complete mastery over one’s emotions is represented in Hebrew by the word melech, king – an acronym for moach (mind), lev (heart) and kaved (liver). When control proceeds from the mind to the emotions and then to the body as a whole, one truly becomes a king over one’s environment.

The word melech, king, denotes a person who is fully in control of himself. He has a rich inner life and does not easily become swayed by external pressures. He reaches this state through continuous study and focused application of his learning. He meditates specifically on the pervasive presence of G-d, who “stands above him, watches him and examines his heart and innards, if he is worshipping him appropriately,” as described in Tanya, chapter 41. This type of contemplation forms the basis of Chabad Chassidic philosophy.

The title of “king” is reserved for the one who has reached perfection in this process – King Moshiach, G-d’s chosen representative who will usher in an era of G-dliness in this world. He is focused on his mission and won’t rest until it is completed, to make the physical world into a home for G-d.

 

 


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