The following is a short presentation of a therapeutic session with a Jewish transpersonal perspective. What makes this session interesting in particular is the combination of individual and couple therapy presented simultaneously.
Yizhak (Isaac) and his wife are in couple therapy for the past half year, after having been in individual therapy 9 months previously. They have advanced in their Imago couple therapy and they practice continuously. They describe their marital life as more fulfilling and cooperative. In their last session they had a Parent-Child dialogue, in which Yizhak spoke with his recently deceased mother, a holocaust survivor, whose role was well filled by his wife. It opened a variety of issues which he and they confronted daily. Today they come in with new insights:
Yizhak describes various ailments from which he suffers- aching shoulder, hernia, etc- all on the left side of his body.While talking about it with his Rabbi, he understood all of a sudden that these symptoms are connected to his being very judgmental of others, since according to Kabbalah the left side is associated with Din- judgment. This attribute was not new to him or his wife, who suffers from it as well.However, the realization that his physical ailments express this habit came as a surprise.With this surprise came the understanding that his body is trying to tell himsomething important about himself and to pay attention to it in order to fix it. This is called in Hebrew and in Kabbalah: "Tikun"(fixing).In addition, Yizhak is knowledgeable enough in Kabbalah to know that the figure representing Din is the forefather Isaac, after whom he is named. Thus he experienced a deeper comprehension of this attribute, which is in the core of his essence, his soul.By discussing this together, they understood that when he sees something of which he is critical, he must first inspect himself to see how he is lacking in this aspect. (This is a form of projection.) I then share with them a written passage by the Baal Shem Tov who explains that when a person hears or sees a wrongdoing by others it is in order for the beholder to identify and fix that aspect in himself, and by doing so, he will also be able to influence the other favorably. What is special in this is that seeing/hearing the other is a present, an opportunity given to the beholder by G-d in order to correct himself. This perspective enables one to perceive others' wrongdoings in a positive and constructive manner wherein one begins with and concentrates on himself. Yizhak understands that in order to rectify this bias, he must work at "leaning over to the other side", meaning to the right side which is represented by Chesed-love. How may this be done?
I point out to them that they have the basis for such work in their Imago couple therapy. Imago refers to the other as the mirror image of one's self, and mirroring is the technique by which one sees his own reflection. Yitzhak's wife reports that he has become very helpful and cooperative, but every now and then he still has to be reminded to pick up his things or clean up, etc.We discuss how else this can be dealt with, without sounding critical, if she wants to help him. The answer was: by reinforcing his positive behavior with praise and appreciation. This we called "blows of Chesed", for by doing this, she will be helping her husband achieve positive and constructive criticism to himself and to others. I point to the fact that according to Kabbalah this is the wife's role- to help her husband achieve his Tikun. In a moment of truth, she admits that a few years ago they were on such bad terms with one another that she asked herself what is the purpose of her life, and considered ending their marriage and maybe her life, but then she told herself that she was here for him and decided to make their marriage work. This surprising confession was unknown to Yizhak, and strengthened his resolve in making the most to prove his ability in being Chesed- loving towards others. We concluded the session with an additional observation on his part: his middle name is Meir (= shining), and if he were to be able to show his love to others, he would fulfill his essence as expressed by his full name. I suggested that by using his full name he will be able to achieve this goal and this Tikun.