Negating the popular misconception that if you experience distracting thoughts during prayer it means your prayers are worthless.
Not only should one who has sinful impulses not be ashamed, he should rejoice in the opportunity to curb these impulses and thereby do a mitzvah.
How do we overcome worry over spiritual problems, namely the guilt over past sins?
What is the importance of joy?
Another way of finding motivation to do mitzvos is by activating the soul’s latent love for G-d.
“It is very close to you–in your mouth, in your heart, to do it.” Even the regular person can change his or her emotions enough to muster sufficient motivation to produce behavioral results.
“The brain rules over the heart,” which at first referred to impulse control and reigning in the impulses of the heart, now is explained to also mean changing the heart by slowly creating new feelings through meditation.
Just as there are two types of tzadik and rasha, there are two types of beinoni–“one who serves” and “one who has not served.” The struggle of the beinoni has inherent value.
We cannot change our feelings at will, but we can control our behaviors.
The beinoni is one who experiences the inner conflict of a rasha yet whose behaviors are indistinguishable from those of a tzaddik.
The tzaddik is the one who has defeated his or her animal soul either incompletely by neutralizing it or completely by transforming it.
The body is compared to a small city over which two kings battle for total domination.
These chapters look at the unholiness within our own animal soul as well as in the universe around us.
Torah study is unique among all mitzvos, for all other mitzvos are “garments” for the soul while the study of Torah is “food.” Whenever we study Torah, we fuse and unite our minds with Divine will and wisdom and this has a permanent effect on how we see the world.
The G-dly soul seeks expression through three modes or “garments”–namely, thought, speech, and action.
The make up and composition of the G-dly soul is the “ten soul powers” or “kochos hanefesh” which correspond to the Ten Sefiros.