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A Mystical Approach to Finding Balance in Parenting by Bracha Meshchaninov

As a mother of 6, a lifelong student of Jewish Mysticism and a yoga teacher, I have found the concept of balance, or ‘Tiferet’ to be the most valuable goal to which to aspire. How as parents do we know when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’? How do we know how much love, allowance, digital time or extra mashed potatoes is too much or too little…..how much do we push ourselves as parents to go the extra mile or pull back for our own time to renew? Being able to find the balance, between the inclination to go outwards and give and to focus inwards and withhold giving, in whatever form, is a great art and a necessary component of mental, emotional and physical balance.

In my own life, I was most aware of the challenges of staying in balance when I made two weddings and a Bar Mitzvah in a five week period. When asked how I was doing, I often answered with a metaphor, comparing myself to a surfer who was managing to stay dry and upright on her surfboard and was able to even enjoy the ride. I believe it was my yoga practice combined with my understanding of Kabbalistic principles that enabled me to accomplish this.

Jewish Mysticism speaks of our nature and the nature of all existence in the context of constantly opposing forces that continually need to be brought into balance. This image shows the graphic representation of these forces or energies which are called ‘Sefirot’, often identified as the Tree of Life.

There are many similarities between how the Kabbalistic system of Sefirot and the Chakra system are represented in the physical human body. The chakras, however, follow the energy up and down the central line of the individual while the Sefirotic system is the constant balancing of polar opposite energies to the left and right of that central line.

The Sefirot are made up of 3 triads reflecting intellectual, emotional and active aspects, each containing two contrasting and polar opposite energies and then a point of reconciliation that balances and integrates these opposites.

Balancing Emotional Energy

In the center of this whole sefirotic construct, corresponding to the 4th or Heart chakra, is the sefirah of Tiferet, the point of resolution within the emotional triad. Tiferet resolves and balances the tension between ‘Chesed’ meaning kindness and ‘Gevurah’ simply translated as severity.

Chesed is characterized by expansive giving while Gevurah is about making boundaries and focusing energy in a way that at times can seem severe. Tiferet is revealed when there is an experience of the perfect balance between these two sefirot, such as when a child is told ‘no’ but within a spirit of expansive loving.

Parenting that reflects the qualities of Tiferet is balanced. When a child is punished without the balance of an attitude of love, it can be experienced as hurtful or alienating and the child could feel unloved. Similarly, giving in to a child unconditionally, without the restraining aspect of Gevurah, can result in the child becoming spoiled or pampered and therefore less capable. Sometimes it takes Gevurah for a parent to step back and let a child figure something out for his or herself or experience the emotion of need or want even if the parent could easily fulfill that need.

These principles can be applied to so many different situations. If we can balance action with rest, determination with surrender, impulsivity with careful contemplation, so much more can be accomplished. When we are not constantly struggling to get back on our surfboards, having lost our footing to a wave of overwhelm, we can stay surfing and release our power and potential in truly astonishing ways.

By understanding and implementing the concept of balance provided by the Sefirotic principles, we can truly find harmony and balance in mind, body and soul.

Bracha Meshchaninov is the founder of Tiferet Movement, a yoga studio with a Kabbalistic twist. She offers classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30 a.m. in New Hempstead. She can be reached at 917-821-0694 or brachame@gmail.com or by visiting TiferetMovement.com.

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