While performing perhaps my most hated task – emptying the dishwasher – I was suddenly, if perplexingly, seized with the overwhelming desire to give thanks. So, I did.
This gratitude thing is apparently habit-forming.
Someone sent me an e-card. As you can see, it contains a beautiful
stained glass rendition of my prompt. It also contains clocks.
I know I have not been great about time management lately. Two years has
made me more relaxed about time.
I shall endeavor to appreciate time more. It’s precious. I must
Happy New Year, all!
"Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines."
I haven’t had a Memo in quite a while. I fell off the meditation wagon,
and my new-found yoga instructor moved WAY across town, bringing the
time commitment from from under 2 hours to over 3 hours. I find that
when I am off the wagon, I just don’t get that many Memos, and if I do
see something, I tend to dismiss it as Nahtamemo.
This morning, I put on the coffee and then sat on the sofa and set the
mediation timer for 10 minutes. I figured I’d start slow, kind of slide
back into the groove. It was over in a blink. And then I got this Memo
in my Facebook news feed.
I admit to being perplexed about the usage of the word "pray". I tend
to think of praying as asking for something – usually, relief from some
uncomfortable-to-painful condition, or else for the end of some
perceived lack. I have never thought of prayer as being appropriate
when "the sun shines", for if the sun is shining, what could one
possibly lack or have to ask for?
A visit to Dictionary.com tells me that to pray means not only to
petition, but also to offer thanks and praise. I am not certain why my
concept of prayer consists exclusively of desperate supplication to some
terrible almighty. This is a horrible thing to have to overcome, this
notion that we are somehow at the mercy of a stern authority figure, who
has the power to make us happy but chooses to make us beg for it. What
a warped impression of the Universe and Creator this must be! Indeed,
all of the Old French and Latin roots of the word "pray" have to do with
begging. Even the Old English/Germanic relative means "to ask, enquire",
which is not quite desperation, but a far cry from thanks and praise.
"Praise" is more like what prayer really should encompass. "Praise"
means you’re expressing approval or admiration, and offering "grateful
homage". So, we really don’t need the "thanks" part of "thanks and
praise" – it’s redundant, because "praise" comes with the gratitude
I am reminded of something my friend Georgia suggested, ‘way back when I
crowdsourced the question, "What should my mantra be?". She said,
"Gratitude!". And my friend Lisa says she read somewhere that one
should say "thank you" at least 7 times a day. Ritualizing it at a
precise number, every day, makes it seem like prayer. In Judaism,
prayer is much more than beseeching; prayer’s purpose is to connect one
to the Divine, not because the Divine requires it, but because WE
require it. We NEED to express gratitude, to connect with the source of
our abundance. It’s good for us. It keeps us from focusing on lack,
the pain from which is entirely self-inflicted and illusory, at best.
In this sense, meditation time is actually prayer. It’s a deliberate
seeking-out of a connection with the source, or as davidji calls it, the
"stillness and silence within". We require this connection, above all
else – more than the fearfully whispered tales of woe and lack, more
than all the forced ass-kissing. The Universe doesn’t need that sort of
thing. That’s just us, anthropomorphizing Her, ascribing to Her that
which we believe we would like if we were God.
Prayer is not for God. Prayer is for us. Prayer is better for us when
it’s praise, because praise incorporates gratitude, and it’s better to
focus on what we have than on what we think we don’t have. Meditation
is prayer. Therefore, I should be meditating more often. Rain or shine.
It would seem that Mark Twain knew what the Om Tara is for. She’s the
goddess who alleviates our emotional suffering and worry. Nope, she
doesn’t remove the condition that is the "cause" of the suffering. She
only addresses the suffering itself. She helps us to understand that we
are choosing to react, and we can react in a way that makes us feel
bad… or not.
Mr. Twain acknowledges that bad shit can actually happen, but that’s
only the half of it. The other half is in how we react to it, how we
CHOOSE to react. That half is not actual, unless we say it is. And
once you understand how it works… why would you say it is? Why choose
to make it actual? It’s only gonna hurt.
Patient: "Hey it hurts when I poke my finger in my eye."
Doctor: "Well, duh – then don’t poke your finger in your eye!"