I need structure in my life. I thrive when I follow in detail the programs that I set up for myself. But it’s not that easy! First of all, life throws many curveballs at us. Too many times ‘today’s schedule’ becomes today’s wish list due to our own emergencies, laziness, and other people’s needs. Additionally, when I peek ahead to see what I still have to do, my overwhelmed feelings could paralyze me totally, or at least weaken my concentration in the task at hand, because I’m worried about finishing everything on my plate.
Say I wake up late, how do I know what to do first? What if I don’t have a lot of energy on a particular day? Is the day wasted ?
In Torah 49 Rebbe Nachman teaches a profound idea. The Arizal taught that in order for God to create the world He needed to constrict His infinite light, making an empty space for creation. Before creation, there was only unlimited and undefined existence of God’s light. In order for there to be a revelation of His kingdom, He needed people to recognize Him. So He needed to somehow condense this infinite light and make room for creation of people and worlds.
Says Rebbe Nachman, since we were created in the image of God, this idea is true by us humans as well. Just like God’s light is infinite, so to our souls have a boundless longing to connect with our creator. But the same way that God had to restrain His vast light in order to produce anything, so too we need to constrict our yearning to some extent in order for us to bear fruit. How do we do that?
Here are some examples:
Firstly, we need to make sure that we sleep well, eat well and exercise. Obviously when we’re sleeping we can’t be building but it’s a necessary reduction in order to produce better at a later time.
Next, let’s try to focus on the task at hand like it’s the only thing we have to do, because in reality it is. We all naturally want to multitask because we’re created in the image of God, who is the ultimate multi-tasker. But we can only do one thing at a time. So there’s no point in worrying about the future or trying to do both ineffectively. We’ll get to the next thing faster if we can pay good attention to our present duties.
Also, sometimes we’re inspired to do something and we’re waiting for the perfect moment or user-face to express that feeling. Don’t wait! Jump on it and start with even something tiny. It might not be what you were originally hoping for, but instead of losing steam you now have something to work with and adjust at a later time.
Lastly, taking a little time to pray to God in our own words is the ultimate tool in focusing and defining our desires. It seems like a waste of time! We say “Why talk to myself?” Or “I could have accomplished something the whole time I was praying, instead of just meditating?” But the truth is that when we mindfully stop, process and unburden ourselves to Hashem, we are creating that space to allow us to produce in a much more concentrated and effective way.