Ever have an urge to do something you know you shouldn't do? Ever felt enslaved by obsessive thoughts about a food, behavior, person or event, cartoon character?

Jeff Schwartz is a nice Jewish research prof at UCLA psychiatry and the author of two popular books, Brain Lock and The Mind and the Brain.

Jeff was researching treatment for OCD. That's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and it ain't fun. People's brains get locked into obsessive thoughts that compel them into repetitive behavior, like washing their hands over and over because they still feel dirty, checking the doors every night 100 times because they might not be locked properly, or logging on to KabbalaToons.com every five minutes just in case a new episode might have been posted just now.

Jeff noticed something fascinating about these people: They know very well that what they are doing is ridiculous. He also noted that fMRI scans showed the limbic system in their brains doing strange things.

So Jeff showed these people those scans of their brains and said, "See, it's not you! It's this out-of-whack part of your brain making you do it!"

"Oh," said those people. "Then I don't really have to listen to a whacked-out part of my brain, do I?" And they didn't.

Jeff developed his method into simple steps. Basically, you observe this as a benign thought, rather than as an all-powerful master; you choose to ignore it; you get into some other more pleasant activity or thought instead; and you identify that obsessive kind of thinking with a part of you that's not really you. Just an out-of-whack part of the brain.

The real neat thing is, eventually that part of the brain gets unwhacked-out. The mind changes the brain.

Jeff says he got a lot of these ideas from his Buddhist meditation classes. Really, he could have just consulted his local Kabbalist. Or simply looked in the standard handbook of Jewish life known as the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which advises, "If you have disruptive thoughts, these are from the yetser hara [i.e. evil inclination, contemporarily known as wild hormones]. Ignore them and think about something else instead, like words of Torah."

The Zohar tells us that the mind has an innate ability to ride the heart, as a rider upon a horse. But most of us are scared to death of our heart. When it starts panicking and screaming, we run fast to give it whatever it wants. (Some people do the same with their pets. Others with their two year olds.) Funny thing is, we all know our mind is so much stronger. But we reserve use of our mind for math and science, and let the heart and the hormones run everything else.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi gave this advice: When you are driven by one of those maddening passions, imagine that you are surrounded by a fire. Then, walk through the fire. You won't get burned, because, you see, the fire is only in your imagination. Just like that crazy obsession.

Liberate your mind from the tyranny of its pet brain/heart/hormones. Just say no to stupid urges, passions and obsessions. Then, cold-blooded, do/think/speak about something else altogether.

Like, check if there's another KabbalaToon episode out already.