Sunday, January 15, 2017

Centering Prayer

The guest speaker at Sunday school was - let's just call it like it is - a freaking badass.

She has three kids under five. She went to Harvard and works at Stephen's. She has worked with refugees in Africa. She has studied in Indian ashrams. She knows my new orthopod friend from book club - we bonded over that before class started.

She told a little of her story. She studied hard, and got to her goal, only to realize that her goal sucked. So she learned about centering prayer. The Catholics dug it up, it's like Buddhist meditation, but the Episcopal's have been responsible for knocking it out of the ballpark lately. There's a place of silence on Chenal Valley Road, called the House of Prayer, inviting anyone from any faith to worship. She knows the people that started it. She shared a little of her own hardships in life - we all have them, and it gave her street cred. So when she asked us to meditate in silence for five minutes, we were all, albeit somewhat reluctantly, game.

"Here's what I do. I just meditate in silence. Once we start, sounds that are happening that we all aren't aware of will come into focus. The clock ticking. Someone walking by outside the door. Our job is to let all that go. I use a word - my word is Jesus. But it isn't like a chant. It's more like a word to ground me when my mind is wandering - thinking about the grocery list or what I'm going to do about dinner. It centers me."

We started. One of the founders of the group pulled out her mediation app and set if for five minutes. A gong went off, and there we went.

Last week, our guest speaker was a gritty divorce lawyer who was also a healer and a practitioner of Qigong. She was amazing. After everyone left, she told me I held all my stress in my lower back. So I told her about my premature pregnancy and having to find a chiropractor to move again. Then she looked me straight in the eye.

"You have had some major emotional trauma lately. Your lungs are fine, but you have pleuritis. What happened?"

I told her about New Year's Day. "It was one week ago to this hour. I'm walking a lot on the treadmill, doing as much yoga as I can, trying to open things up because I feel closed and shut down and sick. Monday and Tuesday were hell, but I feel like I'm back in the game."

"Can I tell you about a mediation that can help you? When you breathe in, breathe white light. Make it hot. Not so hot that it causes pain, but hot enough to burn that shit out. You've got to burn it, or it will never go away."

So when a gong sounded this week, and our five minutes were over, we shared about our experiences. Some said - "That five minutes seemed like thirty." Others said, "that was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life."

I said, "When I was a teenager, I had bad stomachaches. A counselor once told me when I got them I should lay down and breathe. Pretend I was breathing in white healing light, and target it to my stomach. Then breathe out the pain - make it a color. I chose red. It helped - the breathing, the color imagery. My five minutes seemed like one second. I used color imagery - used white light to target not physical but spiritual pain. It felt like it was working."

Guest speaker: I love that. It doesn't have to be a word - imagery can work too. I've heard of some people that use imagery in their centering prayer. It's been great to be here. I've never been asked to share, and speak about this before. This is a first for me, I hope not a last.


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