Friday, April 14, 2006

A Wandering mind...

What do we do when we pray? Do we sit and prayer "rote" prayer from the book of Christian prayer, do we recite the Qu'ran from the words of the prophet, do we meditate on the virtues of the Buddha, or maybe we meditate on other things that we think about in our silence?

Prayer is always an "iffy" activity. Because where does one find the time or the location that is sufficient to allow for silent meditation except for a temple, a losqu or a church, or maybe an ashram or a monastery where silence is custom. For me prayer is something that I cultivate over times, over years, over decades and over seconds. Sometimes I recite a rosary, and other times I recite "rote" prayers from the book of Christian prayer, so that my mind does not wander from the task at hand. Sometimes I climb the mountain and commune with the spirits of nature and I listen for the voice of God in the breeze as it blows through the trees.

Prayer for me is not an end all be all of my daily existence, and some days I can't get a word in edgewise during the business of my day. Some days I even forget to take time to be greatful, and some days I just do not want to pray because I want to sit in my head and do nothing.

Prayer is a task that one takes on to learn about ones self and our greater association with "all that is" the one true essence of being, be that God, Allah, The Buddha or Yaweh. Why do we pray? Well, we pray for each other, we pray for community, we pray for the dead and the sick, and for the most part I pray to connect with the God of my understanding. Some days the connection is free and clear and some days it is hit and miss.

I usually pray when there is a purpose behind it. Prayer is usually stronger and gets to the heart of the silence when we need something really bad. Like passing a test, or facing an illness or facing trials and tribulations. There are multitudes of prayers for a list of needs and wants. But in time you realize that prayer will not bring you anything but that which you really need. The wise person prays for things unselfishly and remembers what gratitude really is.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference
grant me patience with things that take time
appreciation for all that I have
tolerance for those with different struggles
and the strength to get up and try again
one day at a time

I have found, in my studies of world religions, that there are as many ways to pray as there are people on the earth, because everyone has their own way of praying, no matter what faith or tradition they come from. Prayer is not a perfect art, it is cultivated over ones lifetime. Each tradition and religion brings with it a wealth of time honored tradition, form and ritual. A few years ago, amid my studies I had an opportunity to attend prayers in both a Jewish Shul over Passover and Friday Prayers at the Concordia Prayer Space for Muslim Students. I have visited a Buddhist temple here in Montreal, I have also been to a Hindu Ashram as well.

In as many years in my studies, I have participated in Native traditional settings and I have done alot of reading of Eastern religions and traditions. Many of which I have incorporated into my life in the forms of prayer and lifestyle. I don't even know if I "know" the right way to pray. Some days, I just talk to the air, out loud sometimes, but for the most part it is an internal dialogue. On many occasions, when I am in a particularly wierd spot that dialogue is all that fills my head - so as to keep me on one certain train of thought - on those days that I want to use.

In reading works by Dan Millman, and the greats like Confucious and the Dao, and contemporary men like Deepak Choprah one learns to pray, meditate and cultivate a body and and mind for prayer through the practice of centering on the breath, the chakras, and the heart beat. Breaking down ones prayer to the simplest equation, the heart beats, the breath moves in and out and being mindful of the breath puts one in contact with the divine, (for myself).

Even the greatest men - the greatest preachers - the greatest priests tell me that even they sometimes don't know if they "get it right" when it comes to prayer, although we keep trying every day. If you really want to get contemporary, all one has to do is look at the great Jedi Master Yoda, and remember what he taught Luke about "The Force."

Fear is the path to the dark side
Fear leads to anger
Anger leads to hate
Hate leads to suffering!!

I think it is only natural that the mind wanders during prayer, that is what gives us something to work at during prayer and or meditation. It is also important, I think to listen to what comes to us when our mind wanders. One never knows what one may find in the spaces between prayer and meditation. I don't beat myself up if mu mind wanders when it should be focused. Maybe there is more going on in my head than I'd like to have going on, maybe I need to approach prayer and meditation when I am ready to get more quiet within, maybe I need to learn how to still my brain and calm my breath and center myself a litte farther.

This is the joy of meditation and prayer, that each time it brings with it a challenge to seek more deeply, to ask more completely, to recieve less expectantly, to feel and sense more completely. Each effort starts a new challenge and each session in prayer and meditation will bring you to new heights and to new places. So young jedi, (YES YOU) you know who you are, don't give up, prayer - like life lessons - are meant to be learned over ones lifetime.

Prayer like life, is a journey

Come with your heart
Come with your soul
come empty - come full
bring all the you need healed to the place
of healing
Leave your expectations behind
and come ready to receive
all that you are meant to receive

listen for the silence
the longer one works to get there
the more often your meditation
will feel natural and easy


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