Praying is….this, that, and the other

Praying Is, Does, Has

Praying Is, Does, Has

What is praying?

A couple of years ago, if you’d asked me how long I’d been praying, I would have said, “Five or six years.”

I would have been wrong. Praying has been a lifelong practice. Whether I knew  it or not.

My answer pinpointed the active attention and expression I gave to “talking to God.” I may have meant talking-to-God both for myself and for others. I would have surely meant the one-way, dualistic perception of sending a message from me to God.

And back then when I answered you that way, I would have felt quite good, quite complete with my response.

Today, I would answer “How long have you been praying?” this way: Always. Forever. Eternally in all directions.

And I would explain my answer this way: We each have our own definition of prayer, of what it means to pray. My awareness has certainly changed in recent years. By the way, I imagine it will continue to change as I develop more, deeper, broader awareness of what offering prayers is, does, gives for me.

I especially like Ellen Debenport’s “Prayer is creative thinking that heightens the connection with God-mind…”. However, the word thinking immediately puts praying in a limiting category of actions, a mind-based category.

So, I rather like Thich Nhat Hanh’s statement a little more: “Prayer is not just what we do, it is also who we are.” Guess it’s obvious that I firmly believe the Be>Do>Have paradigm.

Yet, even stronger is Henri Nouwen’s offering that says “….prayer is a life in union with God, from whom all compassion flows.”

Having become increasingly conscious that prayer/praying is not just doing. It is more than that because it comes from more than the heart.

I love praying. Out loud. With others. By myself. For others. For myself. I love hearing others pray. Being in silence, praying with others, both are exquisite. I do not deny the power and the beauty of traditional prayer. Not one bit.

However, I am delighted that I’ve become aware of these facts-for-me:

For me, praying is any word, thought, action, or moment that means my Oneness with God. Even if it is not in my consciousness, I know I pray when I take a step, share a smile, cry a tear, forgive myself, offer assistance, blink my eye, feel my pulse, love a song….

What is praying…for you?

Love and blessing,


5 July 2017


Posted on July 5, 2017 at 6:57 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Creativity, God, Oneness, Prayer, Praying · Tagged with: , ,

Calm Down! It’s Worth the Effort.

Calm Down by Sitting Still

Sitting Still

How often do you say to yourself, “Calm down?” How often does someone else suggest kindly, lovingly that you calm down?

The current State of Life may give us cause operate at turbo speed. We ramp up our energies, fuel-inject our emotions, and ignite our intensity. Sometimes one’s personal odometer gets close to–or crosses over–the red line; personal RPM is too high.

Calm down. This may sound the same as the earlier post encouraging you to Lighten Up. Here’s the difference:

The difference is subtle, for sure. Maybe there’s no difference at all. Both are good ideas. And your ideas for lightening up and calming down are even better. But to get you started, here are some ways to calm down:

  1. Listen to rain fall (real time or recorded).
  2. Listen to a flowing stream (real time or recorded).
  3. Ditto wind…ocean waves…birdsong…432Hz music.
  4. Sit very, very still.
  5. Gaze at a candle’s flame.
  6. Enjoy looking at a a blank sheet of paper.
  7. Make time to assist someone else with anything.
  8. Drink a tall glass of lemon water. Slowly.
  9. Sit silently with Spirit.
  10. Slow your breathing.
  11. Imagine, feel relaxation flowing through you: top of head to bottom of feet.
  12. Lean against a tree.
  13. Lie back and watch the night sky, closely.
  14. Listen to your heart’s song: the rhythm and the lyrics.
  15. Say “amen” when a job is done. Mean it.

A calm down prayer

Soothing Spirit, when I move
at speeds seeming breakneck, with thoughts
scrambling in my head, and tensions
making me go faster,
you help me remember the peacefulness
of    slowing    down.
One slow breath calms me down.
Two even more.
Giving thanks that I can see the sky
and feel tree bark
and hear rain splattering the sidewalks
calms me down. When I sit very still
and know you are beside me, around me
and within me, I know the perfect calm.
Thank you, God. And so it is.

Love and blessings,




1 July 2017

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 5:05 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Breath, Energy, Grounded, Happiness, Healing, Humility, Inner Peace, Peacefulness, Prayer · Tagged with: , ,

Lighten Up! There’s No Reason Not To.

Lighten Up

Lighten Up!

Lighten up! Take that seriously and with several grains of the certainty that it’ll be good for you if you do!

The reasons for lightening up are many. They include less stress and greater peace of mind. When you make the effort to remove the “weight of the world” from your very strong shoulders, you can refresh your muscles. That means your physical, emotional, and mental muscles!

The title suggests there is no reason not to lighten your load. Yet, I’ll bet there are some ready-responses along the lines of

Consider that a 5 minute break from whatever task you’re carrying is proven to give you an energy boost. That boost increases your effectiveness following the break. And the break can feel really, really good.

So. I offer you 15 how-to-lighten-up ideas. Please, please keep this qualification in mind. These 15 are meant to stimulate other ideas from your thinking as much as they are meant to be carried out by you. Your ideas will work best for you. Sure thing.

  1. Do some yoga.
  2. Take a walk.
  3. Laugh at yourself.
  4. Watch a bird.
  5. Enjoy a cookie.
  6. Mismatch your socks.
  7. Recall a joyful time.
  8. Relax your facial muscles.
  9. Count 10 slow, deep breaths.
  10. Mismatch your earrings.
  11. Gaze at a flower.
  12. Watch a child.
  13. Enjoy coffee or tea.
  14. Say a tongue twister.
  15. Sing a sweet song. (Tim Bays’ Lighten Up)

Seem too simple? Too meaningless? Up to you to make them work. Consider “Really…” before each one. Think about reflecting on what you saw, heard, did….and felt while doing it. The real key to lightening up is more than merely doing any of these 15 or any of your own ideas. The real key is letting go of everything else for the few moments you’re doing.

A Prayer for Me to Lighten Up (and Maybe You, too!)

Living, loving Spirit,
we know you are the source of our joy,
our lightness, and our peace.
As we know we source our heaviness;
we put the load on our backs, the tension in our minds,
the sorrow in our moods.
Thank you that we know–and have the power to practice–
letting go of the burdens and the distractions,
the tensions and the worry.
We have the ability to release our luggage and to savor,
truly savor the lightness of being.
Thank you, God, that we can lighten up.
And so it is. And so we let it go!

Love and blessings,

27 June 2017

PS Here are one, two, and three earlier posts that might help you with some self-lightening.

Posted on June 27, 2017 at 4:09 pm by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Energy, Happiness, Healing, Inner Peace, Joy, Peacefulness, Prayer, Praying · Tagged with: , , ,

My Go at Centering Prayer: Not Yet Successful


Centering Prayer

Maybe my years of mindful meditation have made my recent stab at centering prayer more than tricky.

Fr. Thomas Keating says the reason for centering prayer is “to contribute to bringing the knowledge and experience of God’s love into the general consciousness of the human family.” It is a discipline meant to get us past obstacles to full development of contemplative prayer. Contemplation is a pure gift of God, a fundamental constituent of human nature. Contemplation is available to every one of us.

That has long appealed to me. That’s what motivates my effort to shift from years of meditation.

Keating says we can reinstate the contemplative tradition by praying as Jesus suggested:

If you want to pray, enter your inner room, close the door, and pray to [God] in secret, and [God] who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

You’ve likely read several interpretations of the Matthew verse. Our inner room is our inner self. We close the door by allowing our mind not to be distracted by our everyday thoughts. We pray and receive in silence.

More from Fr. Keating: “The root of prayer is interior silence. We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words, but this is only one of its forms….Centering prayer is not so much the absence of thoughts as detachment from them. It is the opening of mind and hear, body and emotions–our whole being–to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond words, thoughts, and emotions–beyond, in other words, the psychological content of the present moment.”

Ah, those thoughts. They keep coming and coming and coming.

The sacred word, critical to centering prayer, is thought (not spoken) when I realize I’m following my thoughts. The sacred word expresses my intention to open, consent and surrender to God’s presence. The word is not where I want to go or what I want to be, necessarily. The purpose of the sacred word, coming from my heart, is to remind me–to return me to–watching the river flow, and letting the thoughts float on down the river.

So, simple directions for center prayer:

  1. Select your sacred word, one which has value and comfort. Prepare to use it for some time.
  2. Sit comfortably  for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Be silent. Invite silence. Respect silence.
  4. Allow your will to consent to the presence and intentionality of God.

The use of the sacred word and reminding myself to be open to God’s presence will, Keating says, “create an atmosphere in which you can simply pay little or no attention to the normal and inevitable flow of thoughts.”

Certainly, I take him at his word. I am, however, still struggling not to hang on to a thought, even get tangled up in it….and forget the centering prayer’s purpose. So, I’m faithful that it will come. So I keep reminding myself:

So, thank you Fr. Keating. And all of this brings to mind the beautiful hymn, Here I Am, Lord.

A Prayer to Center My Praying

Living, loving Friend, I am thankful
to be reminded not to be willful.
I am thankful when I remember that letting go
is really letting you be and do,
which blesses me.
Good Friend, I appreciate centering myself
in praying with you
and centering my prayer to receive your expression.
I cherish every supported effort I uncover
that reminds me to release my false self.
And so it is. And so I thank you, God.

Love and blessings,
26 June 2017

Posted on June 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: God, Grounded, Humility, Prayer, Praying · Tagged with: ,