According to Kabbalah, the spectrum of human experience is divided into seven emotions and qualities. The sefirah (also known as the tree of life) outlines the different parts of your emotional life. Subscribe to the Soul Workout to examine and refine these seven muscles.
The seven emotional attributes are:
1. Chesed – Loving kindness, benevolence.
Love is the single most powerful and necessary component in life. Love is the origin and foundation of all human interactions. It is both giving and receiving. It allows us to reach above and beyond ourselves; to experience another person and to allow that person to experience us. It is the tool by which we learn to experience the highest reality — G-d.
2. Gevurah – Justice, Discipline, Restraint, Awe
If love (chesed) is the bedrock of human expression, discipline (gevurah) is the channel through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Like a laser beam, its potency lies in the focus and concentration of light in one direction, rather than fragmented light beams dispersed in all different directions. Gevurah – discipline and measure – concentrates and directs our efforts, our love, in the proper directions. Another aspect of gevurah is respect and awe. Healthy love requires respect for the one you love.
3. Tiferet – Beauty and harmony; compassion
Tiferet — compassion blends and harmonizes the free outpouring love of chesed with the discipline of gevurah. Tiferet possesses this power by introducing a third dimension — the dimension of truth, which is neither love nor discipline and therefore can integrate the two. Truth is accessed through selflessness: rising above your ego and your predispositions, enabling you to realize a higher truth. Truth gives you a clear and objective picture of your and others’ needs. The imbalance of love and discipline (and for that matter, any distortion) is a result of a subjective, hence limited perspective. Introducing truth, by suspending personal prejudices, allows you to express your feelings (including the synthesis of chesed and gevurah) in the healthiest manner.
This quality gives TIFERET its name, which means BEAUTY: it blends the differing colors of love and discipline, and this harmony makes it beautiful.
4. Netzach – Endurance, Fortitude, Ambition
Endurance and ambition is a combination of determination and tenacity. It is a balance of patience, persistence and guts. Endurance is also being reliable and accountable, which establishes security and commitment. Without endurance, any good endeavor or intention has no chance of success.
Endurance means to be alive, to be driven by healthy and productive goals. It is the readiness to fight for what you believe, to go all the way. Without such commitment any undertaking remains flat and empty. It is an energy that comes from within and stops at nothing to achieve its goals. This, of course, requires that endurance be closely examined to ensure that it is used in a healthy and productive manner.
Ask yourself: How committed am I to my values? How much would I fight for them? Am I easily swayed? What price am I ready to pay for my beliefs? Is there any truth for which I would be ready to give my life?
5. Hod – Humility, Splendor
If endurance is the engine of life, humility is its fuel. As gevurah (discipline) gives chesed (love) focus, Hod gives netzach (endurance) direction. Humility is the silent partner of endurance. Its strength is in its silence. Its splendor is in its repose.
Humility – and the resulting yielding – should not be confused with weakness and lack of self-esteem. Humility is modesty; it is acknowledgment (from the root of the Hebrew word, “hoda’ah”). It is saying “thank you” to G-d. It is clearly recognizing your qualities and strengths and acknowledging that they are not your own; they were given to you by G-d for a higher purpose than just satisfying your own needs. Humility is modesty; it is recognizing how small you are which allows you to realize how large you can become. And that makes humility so formidable.
6. Yesod – Bonding, Foundation
Bonding is the ultimate emotional connection. While the first five qualities (love, discipline, compassion, endurance and humility) are interactive, they still manifest duality: the lover and the beloved. The emphasis is on an individual’s feelings, not necessarily on mutuality. Bonding, on the other hand, is a complete fusion of the two.
Without bonding no feeling can be truly realized. Bonding means connecting; not only feeling for another, but being attached to him. Not just a token commitment, but total devotion. It creates a channel between giver and receiver. Bonding is eternal. It develops an everlasting union that lives on forever through the perpetual fruit it bears.
Bonding is the foundation of life. The emotional spine of the human psyche. Every person needs bonding to flourish and grow. The bonding between mother and child; between husband and wife; between brothers and sisters; between close friends. Bonding is affirmation; it gives one the sense of belonging; that “I matter,” “I am significant and important.” It establishes trust — trust in yourself and trust in others. It instills confidence. Without bonding and nurturing we cannot realize and be ourselves.
7. Malchut – Nobility; sovereignty, leadership.
Sovereignty — the last of the seven attributes — is different from the previous six. It is a state of being rather than an activity. Nobility is a passive expression of human dignity which has nothing of its own except that which it receives from the other six emotions. True leadership is the art of selflessness; it is only a reflection of a Higher will. On the other hand, malchut manifests and actualizes the character and majesty of the human spirit. It is the very fiber of what makes us human.
When love, discipline, compassion, endurance and humility are properly channeled into the psyche through bonding, the result is malchut. Bonding nurtures us and allows our sovereignty to surface and flourish. Malchut is the receptivity to all the emotions that are funneled through Yesod.
Just like you isolate your arms, quads, or cardio with specific exercises, working out your soul requires isolating and flexing different muscles. The Meaningful Life Center’s Soul Workouts focus on isolating emotional muscles, and help you develop new tools to carry with you in your new and improved emotional “body.”
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