Mar 05 2013
“Currently, more than 200 controlled experiments in humans, plants, animals, and even microbes suggest that the compassionate, loving prayers and intentions of one individual can affect another individual or object at great distances…. Our individual mind appears to be connected with all other minds, no matter how far apart.”
—Larry Dossey, M.D., “Introduction,” in Thich Nhat Hanh, The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice
What if “prayer” simply means directing our intentions toward someone or something? When we hold someone or something in our hearts, can we sense a connection? Can we have faith in this connection, regardless of the outcome of our hopes or requests?
A New Energy
“If we have a new energy, a new insight, a new faith, we are able to open a new stage in the life of our body and our mind. When we sit down to practice unifying our body and our mind, and we bring our energy of love to our grandmother, to an elder sister, or a younger brother, then we are producing a new energy. That energy immediately opens our heart.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice
What spiritual practice helps you to unify your body and mind? Try sitting still and focusing on your breath for a few minutes. Take a walk in a beautiful spot, mindful of your steps, your breath, your surroundings. Wash a few dishes by hand, aware of every sensation. Notice your energy before you begin. Notice your energy as you conclude this practice. Do you sense a new energy in body and mind? Do you feel a slight increase in the “nectar of compassion” for yourself and others? What happens when you try again, and again?
“What it can do—what prayer, at its best and at our best, has always done—is help us to live consciously, honorably, and compassionately…. As long as prayer helps me to be more loving, then I need prayer. As long as prayer serves as a potent means of sharing my love with others, I need prayer.”
—Kate Braestrup, Beginner’s Grace: Bringing Prayer into Your Life
The next time you feel impatient with yourself or another, try taking a long mindful breath. Then, amid the chatter of your mind, gently introduce this silent question: “How can I respond now with love to myself and to this other person?” Or phrase it as a silent request—no need to specify a recipient: “Please help me to be my most conscious, honorable, and compassionate self right now.” Then take another breath. What choices do you make?
Yours in exploring spiritual practices,
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