” Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. “~ Mahatma Gandhi
It feels like there is too darn much going on in everyone’s life. Every one I know. S.O.S. Dear God. Please help save our sinking ships. Lotsa good, but so much challenge too. It’s too much.
The joke to me is a few asking me how to handle this or that, when all I know is a few breathing techniques, and how to say S.O.S. Once in a while, amidst chaos, I have been able to place my gaze on the positive things in my life and bring some equanimity back into my existence. But, truth be told, the ONLY reason I know any techniques at all is because I’ve fallen out of balance enough to have fumbled and found a few that work. Not sure I’m in a position of giving advice…
I think of these mindful techniques – mantras, meditations, and more as the things that bring the little embers back to life, when your fire has worn down a bit. It just takes a little fanning, and fueling, and praying until your fire gets going again. And once it does, you can bask in the glow for a moment, but not long, because you’ve got to keep tending to it. The wood does burn down again, and there is probably going to be a little more wind and water coming at it because, well, that’s life. It’s a maintenance thing.
So, like, for example, if you were just going to put together a peace blog… Misperception number one is you are pretty much going to be experiencing a ton of peace. Not true. I’m not sure if it is some sort of the law of attraction, that “the universe gives you what you need,” or if it goes back to the Matt Dewar wisdom, “You don’t quench your thirst by talking about water,” which maybe I have been doing a bit of, but it seems like I am needing mindful techniques more than ever. (I probably should have called this “40 days of trying to find peace when you are not feelin’ it!”)
So, if perhaps you are participating in this, and you’re not feeling peaceful right now, or the idea of sticking with mindfulness long-term is wearing on you, or the baby is not sleeping, or your middle aged self is not sleeping, or your kid is doing more drugs than he is homework, or the deal that should be coming together is not, and money is tight, or, you are just plain old feeling like you are constantly swimming upstream; just know, you are not alone.
40+ days is kinda an obscenely long time to be expected to hold on. Think Jesus in the desert, Moses in the wilderness, Noah with a buncha seasick animals watching the world go down the drain. (#are you friggin’ kidding me?) Ironically, I’ve been saying that alot.
My way of dealing is I pray, on every little detail. Why? Because when I am exhausted, even too tired for mindful practices, it is my last resort. And, now, I shall be blacklisted/ booted out of every church in the country when I share the following (apologies in advance preacher friends):
I pray three ways. Sometimes I say the Lord’s Prayer. Thanks Jesus, for giving us a cover-the-bases prayer. This can be kind rote, which can be good. Another I do is using Anne Lamott’s “Help, Thanks, Wow,” approach, and as I think I’ve mentioned before, I add “Please Explain.” And the third, and I think best prayers I have, are the honest, running dialogue type. This is the kind that could get me kicked outta church.
I speak it like it is, in my words. I talk to God like He really does know me, and understands me, and forgives me. And, like he has a really good sense of humor, which I tend to think He must. I use my language, and it is not pretty. Back to the f-bomb thing…
A modified version might be:
“Are you friggin’ kidding me? If you’re gonna sit around and watch this much shit come my way, then you can damn well walk me through some answers. Pretty please put exactly what I need right in my path, so that even a dope like me can figure out what to do next. Yours, truly~”
I shared this approach with an exhausted mom dealing with an exhausting situation. She told me recently she prayed for her daughter all the way to the airport, “Please help her get on the damn airplane, please help her get on the damn airplane.”
(She did, and then the plan was messed up as soon as her daughter got off the plane.) “So now what, big Guy in the sky? Wait–what, keep it coming? Ugh.”
Sometimes it comes to that; honest angry words, and no choice but to let go, and give it up.
Mindfulness is about returning, even when you are not feeling it, to your practice. And for me, when even that starts to burn out, praying, honestly, from the heart.