Reb Nosson wrote: “It is crucial that you know and believe that, as Rebbe Nachman said, a person can direct his thoughts wherever he wishes. And if, G-d forbid, they do sometimes wander, you can simply grab them and pull them back to where they should be. Just as when a horse strays from the path, you grab it by its halter and pull it back to the straight path, you can do exactly the same with your thoughts…” (Based on Likutei Moharan II:50)
(Healing Leaves, p. 44)
What does this mean to me?
What an empowering principle! How many times in the past did I feel like a prisoner of my own negative thoughts, stuck in a morass in which I just seemed to be sinking deeper and deeper? Yet Rebbe Nachman taught very simply that since we cannot think two thoughts at the same time, the best recourse is just to redirect our thinking to some other subject, which naturally leaves the negative thought behind.
What happens if I find myself drawn off the path again? I just have to be aware of it and redirect “the horse” back on the right road, forcibly by the halter if necessary. I may have to do this time after time, but it’s better than the alternative!
Please, G-d, be at my side to help me always and remind me immediately without any delay or hesitation to grab hold of my thoughts right away and return them to the straight path. Help me turn them immediately from the superficial to the internal, from evil to good, from the profane to the holy.
(Likutei Tefillos, II:31)