You know those times when we just go through the motions, but something niggles at us? We fill our day with bucket loads of accomplishments, but still feel unsettled and like we want to escape it all? We’re restless and feel like existence itself is painful.

It may just be the voice of the soul. The soul wants to escape the reality of the world and be free of the constraints and limitations of the physical world. It yearns to be one with G‑d and to have no inhibitions. It may look like simple frustration and unhappiness, and we may not even be aware of what is truly going on. We might be an HSP––a highly spiritual person—and being too invested in physicality leaves us wanting more.

There is a time and place for that escape we so desire, and it is actually a central part of Judaism. In the Chassidic lexicon, it is called Ratzo v’Shov, or “yearn and return.” Ratzo (“yearn”) is the soul’s desire to escape the constraints of physicality and transcend its surroundings. This is actually the purpose of prayer and the way to pray.

Prayer is the time for the soul to soar closer to its Creator—to sing, speak and praise the Source of all of creation. This is literally soul-heaven on earth. Prayer is a time to let the soul “loose,” and give it time and space to express its passion, love and desire to get closer to G‑d. Let the prayers unfold without allowing the animal soul to mock or inhibit. How should we pray? In a way that lets us escape the pressures, responsibilities and “issues” of day-to-day life.

Then comes shov, the “return.” We gave our soul space to escape, but then comes the harder work—to be present. After praying with such fervor, the soul feels able and determined to return to its daily tasks and the grind of the day-to-day, albeit with a fire and passion that it accessed during prayer. It is able to be present in the world knowing that G‑d’s intention is to be living in the moment, exactly as the moment presents itself. While prayer epitomizes ratzo, when we are involved in the mitzvahs involving physical objects and studying Torah, that epitomizes shov.

Just as our lungs inhale and exhale, and our hearts contract and expand, our soul yearns and returns in a delicate dance that sums up the human experience.

Just make sure you’re taking the soul’s desires seriously and set the time to escape. And then make sure you’re redirecting it back down to planet earth in a continuous and meaningful cycle.

Source: Torat Menachem 5745, vol. 1, p. 639.