Was positive psychology actually discovered in 1807?
In that year, a powerful teaching called Azamra was revealed.
Azamra is a foundational lesson taught by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, often called the Doctor of the Soul. He taught this lesson three years before his death. Rebbe Nachman told his students to carry Azamra with them their entire lives and to review it often. Every day still, people around the world learn and review this life-changing teaching.
Azamra has much in common with some tenets of positive psychology.
“Positive psychology is the branch of psychology that uses scientific understanding and effective intervention to aid in the achievement of a positive outlook when it comes to subjective experiences, individual traits, and events that occur throughout one’s lifetime.”*
The word Azamra means “I will sing.” By concentrating on the positive points (soul notes) within, beautiful melody is created, made up of all the beautiful notes we discover and focus on. As we practice Azamra, we compose and sing the song of our soul.
Azamra encourages us to seek out and acknowledge the good points within ourselves (and others), no matter how negligible they might appear to be. By doing this, we strengthen our ability to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And, by infusing our thoughts with positive recognition, we transition our perception of reality to the positive. By doing so, we may even come to see changes in our surrounding reality in a way that is mystical.
Rebbe Nachman’s Chassidic teachings, including Azamra, are rooted in the Jewish ancient wisdom tradition, though many of his core teachings are Universal. In many of his lessons including Azamra, he gives us instructions for the steps we can take that help us shape our thoughts so that our experience of life is more joyous and positive.
Happiness requires positive thoughts.
“The goal of positive psychology is to step away from the pathological thoughts that may arise in a hopeless mindset, and to instead, maintain a sense of optimism that allows for people to understand what makes life worth living.”*
Many lessons in Breslov contain ideas that are quite similar to positive psychology. Of course, the language is different. While the lessons, like positive psychology, encourage us to think about, understand, and practice living a happy and good life, the goals are slightly different.
In Breslov thought, living a happy, good life is a means to an end, not the final goal. Being authentically happy is one essential component of fulfillment of one’s life mission. The end goal includes the psychological but is, ultimately, spiritual. Connecting to one’s deeper soul mission in this lifetime, and moving towards it, requires joy. But in some ways, the goals of Breslov transcend joy.
You’re invited: Women, if you live in NYC, or will be in the NY area on February 26, please join me in a special event for women at the JCC of Manhattan, Azamra: Hearing the Song of Your Soul.
This is an afternoon of self-discovery with healing meditation, art and music. Come join me for an afternoon of Breslov workshops based on the joyful wisdom of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Experience the power of Chassidic meditation, art, and song. Uncover unique healing insights you can build on. Gain self-knowledge. Create! Take home doable ideas for a personal spiritual practice that will work in your life. For more information visit the Azamra program page at the JCC.
*Wikipedia and Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction (pp. 279-298). Springer Netherlands.