When you feel ascents and descents, entrances and exits of Lights the way you might feel it physically, since your desire or spiritual vessel is ready for reception and bestowal, for the entrance and exit of the Light, then you can work with Talmud Eser Sefirot and Tree of Life by actually making the actions they describe.
On the other hand, when you work with The Zohar, you do so through an intermediary – the Surrounding Light. This composition develops the vessel of the soul in general, rather than according to the verse, “A person’s soul teaches him.” The latter is when you can take Talmud Eser Sefirot and carry out the actions in practice.
There is a time of preparation for the future level, and that is what The Zohar is mostly intended for. Besides this, there is a time for actualizing the levels, which is done with the help of Talmud Eser Sefirot.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/29/10, The Zohar