Methods for Changing Character
The following collection of imaging methods, found in Jewish ethical literature, complements our discussion of the place of imagination in character building (based on Rav Dessler’s discussion in Mikhtav M’Eliahu 4).
Hearing a shofar
A person should constantly imagine hearing a shofar in his ears. (Yaarot Dvash — Drush 1)
Meditations that aid humility: If a person would have a clear image of himself, dirtied with sin, flawed and full of shame standing before the Divine Court with the Pure and Holy King of Kings and all of his hosts -any arrogance he had would dissipate immediately. (Mesillat Yesharim Chapter 23)
When one prays he should have a clear image of the words (the form of the letters) of prayer in his mind and intend to increase the power of holiness though them. His prayers should bear fruit above so the upper holiness and light is increased. (Nefesh Hachayim 2:13)
The Name of G-d
” . . . For if one constantly imprints the 4 letter name of Hashem on his heart, as King David said, “I place G-d before me constantly (Tehillim 16:8),” this will cause the image of his soul to be embedded above and the Creator, blessed be He, will show love for him. . .” (Reishit Chokhma — Ahava 1, echoed in Hanhagat Hatzaddikim – R. Moshe Teitlebaum, Chida, Chozeh of Lublin)
“Positive use of imagery is very important for controlling one’s feelings. (See Daas Chochmah Umussar, vol. 1, p. 131) A person with a tendency towards sadness is likely to habitually imagine unpleasant scenes. When you find yourself visualizing negative scenes, make a conscious effort to imagine a positive one. . .” (Gateway to Happiness, R. Zelig Pliskin, p. 181)
“When you fear a confrontation in which you might become angry, mentally picture yourself handling it calmly and self-confidently. Keep repeating this picture in your mind until you feel fairly certain that you will be able to remain calm in the actual situation. . .” (Gateway to Happiness, p. 201)
We hope these are helpful.
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