When I (Still) React Mindlessly and Emotionally

The most important discovery I made about myself when I received group coaching as a client two years ago is that I was trapped in a prison made by my egoic mind, reacting mindlessly and emotionally to so many people and their verbal and nonverbal behaviors, thus destroying my relationships with many of them. Since then I've imposed upon myself the tasking of liberating myself from this mental prison as much as possible.

I've spent this week asking myself when I (still) react mindlessly and emotionally after two years of systematic self-work in order to prepare myself for the start of the coach training program this Wednesday evening by the school where I received group coaching as a client two years ago.

When I started asking myself this question, I had some illusion that I had tamed my egoic speech and action, but it didn't take me a long time to find myself reacting mindlessly and emotionally to one of my most sensitive "buttons" that might have remained dormant to be pressed and activated.

This button I've rediscovered concerns food hygiene. Many people in Israel, whether they are sellers or buyers, touch, examine and take bread with their bare hands, which are often visibly dirty enough. So when I buy unpacked bread, I take all the necessary precautionary measures so that cashiers may not touch my bread with their bare hands. Early this week I had the "privilege" of encountering a cashier who was quick enough. I found myself yelling at him for his "barbaric" act.

I spent the rest of the week, asking myself the same question and observing my own thought, speech and action mindfully. Unfortunately, I've recognized at least a few more mindless and emotional reactions of mine, though only in thought and not in speech and action. The most significant type of reactions is that I still remain judgemental, though much less than before, especially toward three types of behaviors: 1) naively looking for instant gratifications from others by bragging about oneself; 2) ignoring sincere questions by others; 3) failing to express gratitude when it seems due.

Fortunately, however, this judgementality of mine remains in thought and doesn't translate into speech and action as before. In the meanwhile I don't seem to be able to do anything else other than accepting the fact that I can be judgemental. This acceptance is at least non-judgemental toward my own thought and is also a rather significant progress for me in the past two years.


Continuing to Study Jewish Life Coaching and Chabad Hasidism

Though I already took a coach training program between July 2018 and June 2019, even received two certificates as a professional coach and started working as a life coach (experimentarilly), I've decided to take another coach training program that will start at the end of this month and continue until the end of next July to improve my practical skill of life coaching, taking advantage of the second year of my sabbatical.

The one I took last year was more theory-focused and I complemented it in one of the practicum groups offered by the school. I had the privilege of practicing life coaching in Yiddish for six months with a supervisor who is a graduate of the school and a renowned hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn.

The new course I'm taking is more practice-focused and we'll meet physically (in a virtual campus located at a walking distance from my aparment in Jerusalem), which is no less important as there is a limit to what can be learned from online learning. I'm also looking forward to getting acquainted with other like-minded fellow students and exchanging our experiences, which is also no less important.

In parallel to the coach training program I took last year I also took a basic course in Chabad Hasidism - or to be more precise, Jewish psychology based on its teachings - here in Jerusalem. My plan was to study the subject only for one year, but it was so fascinating that I've decided to continue my study of Chabad Hasidism for two more years. Here again, the contents of what we study are important, but the very fact that I can experience the presence of our teachers and interact with other fellow students is no less important.

These courses give me fundamentally different learning experiences from those I had not only when I studied academic subjects at universities in Japan and Israel but even when I studied (how to study) the Talmud at a "Lithuanian" haredi yeshiva in Jerusalem on my previous sabbatical several years ago as these experiences have been having a profound impact upon me not only intellectually but also spiritually.


Mindfulness and Compassion

I seem to have started developing (and practicing) mindfulness around April 2017, mainly in the form of meditation at first, then in various areas of daily life. It must be about a year ago, i.e., one year and a half afterwards, that I started feeling positive effects of mindfulness in both interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.

The first positive effect was in my intrapersonal relationship; I started observing my own egoic - but not necessarily egoistic - speech and action more non-judgementally and more compassionately. At this stage I still judged other people's egoic speech and action rather judgementally and non-compassionately. I used to have a grudge, e.g., against those who judged my egoic speech and action non-compassionately and decided to walk away from me.

Recently I started to realize that such judgement and decision were no less egoic than my own speech and action. After this realization I also started feeling compassion toward these people. Now I can also feel far more compassion toward those whose speech and action may have bothered me before. Instead of walking away from them I can relate to them with more patience, hoping to transform their inner darkness into light by accepting their egoic speech and action with more love.