One of the fascinating concepts to emerge in western psychology is the notion
of the sub-conscious. Our conscious self, we are told, is a projected analogue
of the deeper self beneath the surface.
The nature of this deeper sub-conscious is little understood, even today.
Freud noted that our inner drives derive from deep within and become manifest as
the libido drive. Others questioned Freud and claimed different dominant
subconscious drives, such as the quest for power and control, or search for
self-realization, or a sense of oneness with the Cosmos, or manifestation of the
collective unconsciousness. Nevertheless, vagueness and speculation are the
hallmarks of most western systems seeking the key to understanding our deeper
The Chabad Chassidic teachings based on the Kabbalah, albeit ancient
in source, are far more sophisticated and developed in this respect than are the
western teachings. Amongst these is the delineation of the subconscious into two
soul-pathways known as Seichel (Mind) and Middot (Emotion). But
the common translation of "mind" and "emotion" does not convey their essential
meaning in this system. In truth what is meant is that Seichel and
Middot are the subconscious antecedents to the overt expression of mind and
emotion, and are latent within the Neshama (soul).
The conscious expression of Seichel/Mind is thought, while the
conscious expression of Middot/Emotion is speech. This is an
interesting notion, viz. that our subconscious "mind" finds its expression in
the way we think, and the subconscious "emotions" come into play in the way we
Furthermore, we draw from the subconscious those thoughts that express our
individual personality. Likewise, the way we speak is also a signature of our
inner character. For example, some people interpret challenge as a personal
threat and others thrive and grow through the identical adversity. Some people
habitually put their foot into their mouth and others are always appropriate and
considerate in their manner of speech.
Developing congruence between Seichel and thought, and between
Middot and speech is a mastery skill. Those who are serious about their
personal development and fulfilment in relationships will aspire to train and
practice in two tasks:
a) To change the subconscious default of their "mind" and "emotions", and,
b) Allow their thoughts and feelings to become their true expressions
The wise master and leader, Moses, is an example par excellence of such
congruence, and the fifth book of the bible, Devarim, is a testimony to his
mastery of mind and emotions. The congruence of thoughts and words are apparent
as Moses appeals emotionally in defence of the Jewish people.
MASTERY: Look at yourself from the inside out. What kind of person are you? Are you kind, considerate, secure, and helpful? If you have achieved some
of these attributes, ask yourself the next question: With what amplitude and
frequency do I express this nature? Choose one aspect of your inner self and
work on it until a level of progress is reached. Then choose an aspect of its
tangible expression, and express it repeatedly for two weeks minimum.
MEDITATION: Try to recall the conversations you had the past few days. Are there any thought patterns and sequence of words that seem to repeat? If so, are you satisfied with this pattern? If not, rehearse alternative mind scripts.
When you are satisfied with the thought experiment, commit yourself to introduce
these in your next set of conversations
Follow-up resources: Relax and Breath and
Achieving Inner Balance (audio) available at Rabbi Wolf's Website (see link below).