Psychic Surgery

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Your regard for others remains registered in your body and energy field.

Twenty years ago I met a young Argentinian rabbi who was said to do “psychic surgery”, although he didn’t want to call it that, whatever he was doing. I didn’t understand what he did. I stood up facing him while he passed his hands above my head. He’d stop, tilt his head, gaze up into the space above me, then address whatever he saw with his gestures. During this session, he said to me more than once, in a Spanish accent Hebrew:

– only speak well of others.

Disdain hurts, and so does shaming, resentment, and any kind of contempt. The painful effect of it is more obvious at the receiving end of contempt, but with awareness, it’s easy to feel the effect of your attitudes towards others on your own body. Here’s why I don’t solely rely on medical science alone: being judgemental and resentful tightens your chest and makes your breathing fast and shallow, and no medication can remedy that.

Try this experiment: think of someone you know, and mentally list their flaws, all that’s wrong with them. Notice your breathing and posture as you do that. Then list all their strengths that you can think of, and notice your breath and body again. The other people don’t even have to be present. It’s between you and your thoughts.

I tense up with every narrative I hear or read, even a meme, that belittles and dismisses people. To hold people in high regard is to focus on what’s admirable in them, and not their shortcomings. Appreciating people and holding them in high regard is my daily practice, and I’ve gotten better at it. It hasn’t been easy for me because I naturally can zero in on anything that’s wrong with anything and anyone, so it’s a cultivated strength, and my heart is calmer, and my breathing deeper for it.