Posted by Marcus J Freed
Jealousy sits at the core of the human experience. Who, at some stage or other, has not experienced the emotion that can shake the strongest emotional foundations? As we look at twin tales of envy – Biblical and Shakespearean – we shall discover a clue to fulfilling our life goals and accelerating the achievement of our ambition.
The Accused Wife sits at the heart of the Book of Numbers (Chapter 5), a woman who is suspected of adultery (the Sotah) and is taken to the priest. She drinks a bitter water potion that proves harmless if she’s innocent, and fatal if not. Her husband is empowered with the ability to see if his jealousy is justified, unlike Shakespeare’s tragic hero Othello, a man who is stirred to misplaced jealousy against his wife by a man who wanted to destroy their innocent marriage – “[Othello] is of a constant, loving, noble nature, /And I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona a most dear husband” (2:ii).
Let us take a deeper look at the internal aspects of the Biblical tale. We all have masculine and feminine aspects to our personality, and one question to ask is where you have been unfaithful to yourself?
In other words, if we consider our masculine aspect as representative of ambition and the drive for direct achievement, and our feminine side as the more sensitive, nuturing and circuitous approach, when have you become distracted from your goal and stayed in a comfort zone or become lost in a tangent?
Although we do not become ‘jealous’ of ourselves per se, we can experience serious discontent when we become distanced from our ambition and our original plans. Although goals can change, when our language becomes peppered with “I should have..” or “I could have…”, it is a clue that our heart is elsewhere. Hopefully we do not find ourselves saying “I should have married someone else”, although those words are not unknown in the course of human history.
When we take responsibility for not being faithful to ourselves and our goals, one response is to withdraw from the world. Ironically this is the following Biblical passage with the tale of the ascetic Nazir, a person who enters a sustained period of meditation and during which he refrains from physical pleasures – yet he is not singled out for special praise for doing so. There are no points given for being a recluse and he has to undergo some effort before rejoining society.
What is the answer when we turn around and realise “I could have spent that year more productively?” or we become frustrated because we did not achieve a particular goal we had set out for? The first stage is take responsibility and to recognise our original intention, as we can only get back on track if we recognise what we were originally pursuing.
Staying ‘married’ to our original intention may lack spice and excitement, especially when compared to the ‘affair’ of a new tangential delight, but the long-term rewards and depths of inner fulfilment are immeasurable. This weekend, consider the commitments you made to yourself and didn’t follow through on; it’s never too late.
HOW TO APPLY THIS IN THE BOARDROOM: What is the most important thing you need to achieve in the work arena that you’ve been avoiding? What are three steps you can take towards achieving your goal?
HOW TO APPLY THIS ON THE YOGA MAT/MEDITATION CUSHION: Listen closely to your body and hold the question: ‘how have I been unfaithful to myself and my goals?’. Or, for a more religious approach, ‘how have I been unfaithful to God?’.
This is based on a Chassidic-style reading of Parshat Nasso. Chapter 19 of Tanya hints towards this reading of Sotah. It is a Lubavitch custom to learn the Talmudic tractate of Sotah between Passover and Shavuot, because the subject of infidelity is a metaphor for the Children of Israel’s multiple infidelities to God, as they repeatedly worshipped idols.
Marcus J Freed is an Optimizer, currently living in LA. Next wednesday he's teaching a free webinar for all business owners - it's called "Money On The Table" - click here to register. He's also published a book called "The Kosher Sutras - The Jewish Way in Yoga & Meditation" - signup at his site www.marcusjfreed.com to get a limited-place ticket to the Los Angeles launch on June 10th 2013.
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Posted by Marcus J Freed
There are two kinds of shortcuts in life – short-shortcuts and long-shortcuts. The short-shortcuts are the ones that work, and the long-shortcuts are the kind we’ve all experienced when our driver (usually male – myself no exception) **insists** this route is going to be faster, but it ends up taking twice as long. If we are to keep our bodies healthy, our minds clear and our businesses successful, everybody needs to balance work with rest. Not too much rest, but a certain degree of dynamic relaxation to ensure that we remain refreshed and alert. When people do not sleep for days on end, the results can be seen on their levels of concentration and productivity.
Although artificial stimulants appear to provide a solution, with endless cups of coffee being downed, or the caffeine tablets that abounded during exam-time at university, the body will eventually say ‘enough’. How many times have you partied for several nights in a row, or worked for days upon end, only to discover yourself in bed with the flu or suffering from a bad cold?
There is a Biblical shortcut to increased productivity and blessing, although it appears to suggest a slowdown in business: “on the seventh year there shall be a complete rest for your land, a Sabbath for God; your field shall now sow and your vineyard you shall not prune” (Leviticus 25:4). Although this is presented like a gentle suggestion, the tone sours later on with a series of curses, “if you will not listen to Me and not perform all of these commandments (Lev. 26:14).
What if we were to view this not as a commandment but as a law of nature – a kind of universal proclamation that is stating the essence of reality? Although it appears to be a shortcut in business to keep on working throughout the day and night, to continue answering emails on our telephones throughout the weekend and to make sure we are available to customers 24/7, perhaps this is actually the ‘long’ kind of shortcut. If we are not able to take a break, if the land is not allowed to take a hiatus from productivity, then maybe it will eventually be forced to take a break out of necessity rather than choice.
Many people say “I do not have time for a vacation”, “I do not have time to exercise”, “I do not have time to pursue my own interests” or “I do not have time to meditate”. Today, try considering these activities as essential shortcuts to increased productivity.
HOW TO APPLY THIS IN THE BOARDROOM:
1)Where have you been avoiding self-development activities? Is there a course you’ve wanted to do for a long time but have avoided signing up for? If you can’t afford it, consider the University of Youtube – millions of hours of seminars and information for free.
2) Have you been avoiding taking vacation time? Is it time you gave yourself a rest of some kind? Budget should not be an issue; there is always the option to engage your creativity to create a great staycation!
HOW TO APPLY THIS ON THE YOGA MAT/MEDITATION CUSHION:
Are you able to deeply rest? Not just to go to sleep at the end of the night whilst exhausted and falling asleep in front of the TV, but to experience that deeper, inner sense of peace and equilibrium? Here are two practices that can take you into that space of quiet:
1) Yoga Nidra – a practice for yogic relaxation. CDs/MP3s are available online, as with various instructions.
2) Longer meditations – when we sit and meditate for a period of longer than 20 minutes, the brain is able to reach deeper levels of relaxation. Try sitting for between 20-45 minutes.
Based on the Torah readings for Parshiot Behar-Behukotai.
For more than 15 years, Marcus J Freed’s purpose has been helping people optimize their inner talents and live to their highest potential. He has many entrepreneurial endeavours, fuelling his passion for life. Marcus founded the business consultancy Freedthinking, and developed Bibliyoga and the Kosher Sutras, helping transform the lives of thousands. A regular broadcaster for BBC national radio, and past President of the Jewish Yoga Network, Marcus has written for publications including The Washington Post, The Independent and The Jewish Chronicle, and has appeared on Fox TV news networks. A trained actor, Marcus performed his Biblical comic plays in over 20 countries and appeared in the movie Saving Lincoln. His new Youtube channel Marcus Recommends is dedicated to connecting people with great ideas and celebrating life. Marcus happily lives in Los Angeles and London. You may reach Marcus at www.marcusjfreed.com.