Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving
Photo by Junior Moran on Unsplash

Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Dinner, Thanksgiving gatherings is really important.

Following the turkey every 4th Thursday of November for the past several years, I’ve been conscious that I don’t want to stop concentrating on being thankful. I’ve tried to be committed to that, too.

The reasons are several. One is that we have so much for which to be thankful. Of course, this time of year we automatically think of all that is dear and big and meaningful, and we express thanks for that. If we are lucky and mindful, we allow ourselves to be aware of the many, many things that we can be thankful for and that we can easily overlook because we take them for granted. I know that is true for me.

So today, three days after Thanksgiving, as the weekend winds down, my mind begins to think of all that will occur work-wise and other-wise next week. And the week after. Now is when I press hard inside my head to pay attention to my heart. I am certain it’s in my heart where all my true thanks really reside. I remind and reinforce my commitment to express my thanks 24/7/365.

Plenty of reasons, the first mentioned above, make me want to do that.  If you’ve been reading Prayerfullife.com for any length of time, you know I love the Greater Good Magazine published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. An article in 2010, Why Gratitude is Good points out Physical, Social, and Psychological benefits from feeling, expressing and sharing gratitude. Here are just three benefits that you may experience.

The article lists quite a few more. It’s an easy read. And though it’s 9 years old, it’s still valid. It was written by  Robert Emmons, “the worlds leading authority on gratitude.”

An article, What Is Gratitude?, offered 3 years later in 2013 by Daily Good gives a great deal more exploration to Robert Emmons and his findings. There’s a beautiful cadence

Followed by several more. Plus a 4-minute video from Emmons himself offers psychological (yet understandable!) explanations of why gratitude is good.

There is more. Another two brief videos by Emmons offer the benefits and the how-to of cultivating gratitude. Then, the 4th video (6 minutes) by Rick Hanson, author of The Buddha’s Brain, explores the benefits and powers of “taking in the good”…which is very akin to expressing gratitude.

I have kept my Prayer Conversations journal–yes, my own conversations with God–for more than 20 years. For all of those years, I’ve savored the habit of remembering, feeling, and writing down at least 10 thanksgivings every morning. These are thanksgivings from the previous day and thanksgivings I am feeling at the very moment, and thanksgivings that I anticipate for the coming day. This is for me the simplest way to give thanksgiving after thanksgiving. A number of other practices are cited in the Greater Good and the Daily Good articles.

Offering Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving

Sharer of Limitless Blessings,
I am happy to say limitless ‘thank yous’.
Thankful for the special holiday and the following holiday season
that lets me focus on my reasons for thanks,
I am also thankful to remember
tomorrow, next week, 3 months from now
that I have even more for which to express my gratitude.
Thanks after the thanksgiving.
Thanks for the mindfulness that brings thanksgiving.
And so it is. And so we thank you, God!
Amen.

Tim

 

 

December 2, 2019

Posted on December 2, 2019 at 5:50 am by Tim · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Gratitude, Happiness, Prayer, Praying, Thanksgiving · Tagged with: , ,

Cadence in Praying: 4 Prayers Each Day

Cadence in Praying?

Cadence of Praying
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Simply put, for me it means a pattern, a rhythmic sequence to prayers that I rely on. And of course it means the prayers that make up that sequence.

Cadence relates to rhythm, tempo, beat. I’ll bet you can immediately identify a cadence that personally appeals to you. Rainfall on a tin roof. Waves crashing on the shore. Hands clapping to a well-known song.  The business world has taken cadence to mean the regular and relied upon repetition of certain actions or events.

Consider bringing together those interpretations of cadence: the pleasure and comfort drawn from something that reliably recurs as we expect it to. And by expecting it we come to enjoy it. Perhaps by enjoying it, we come to expect it.

Cadence in praying. How many examples are there of prayers said, repeated at an assigned time and perhaps in an assigned way? There are many! Almost every religion says a certain prayer at a certain time. That is cadence in praying.

I have brought it home for me on a daily basis. A morning prayer. A midday prayer. An end-of-day prayer. A bedtime prayer. What does the cadence do for me? What does it mean to me?

My 4 daily prayers encourage me to look at each portion of my day as it is about to unfold and as it has unfolded.

Morning Prayer

Praying for my morning as it is just beginning grounds and motivates and confidences me. My morning prayer affirms my oneness with spirit from the moment my eyes open and my heart welcomes a new day. The prayer affirms that my day will be beautiful. I’ve learned that expecting a beautiful day almost always creates one.

Good Friend, I feel you in my heart
when I awaken.
I feel you shine on me throughout the day today.
Thank you, God. Amen.

 Midday Prayer

When I pause in the middle of the day, I allow my gratitude to look over whatever I have done and accomplished thus far. Then I encourage myself to look forward to what is yet to be done, to be accomplished. As with the morning prayer, affirming a successful second half of the day usually produces one.

Sharer of Blessings, this day thus far
you have given me
the opportunity to put forth effort
and to accomplish meaning.
With others and on my own, I achieved.
I am thankful for these blessings.
I am thankful to continue with real creative energy
for the rest of the day.
Thank you, Sharer of Blessings.
And so it is. Amen.

End of Day Prayer

This is really an end of the work day prayer. For me its beauty is separating the energies expended and enjoyed at work from the energies engaged and relished when my work is done. That is at the end of the day. For you that may be whatever time you move from what is your work to what is your free time. One joy I take from this prayer is  my moving from day’s work to evening’s rest. The other joy is, like the previous prayer, the combination of gratitude for what I’ve done with affirmation of what is yet to manifest.

Sweet Spirit, in your presence
I unwind this day, starting now and looking back,
moment to moment, encounter to encounter.
I gather all the goodness and joy,
in gratitude.
And now I look to the evening shadows
and receive what they tell me,
seeking healing, courage and forgiveness.
Thank you, God. Amen.

Bedtime Prayer

This prayer takes me into dreams. It says goodnight to my day and it beckons a peaceful night’s sleep and all the rewards that will bring, in the night and tomorrow.

Giver of Dreams, I go to sleep
wrapped in thanks for this day of living,
this time of knowing and enjoying
your presence and your power
within and around me.
I am restul for this night
that I may be eager for tomorrow.
I thank you, God. Amen.

So, there you have my regular, cadenced 4 prayers-a-day. Feel free to use them, edit them, take great liberties with them as you wish. You may also find inspiration and great prayer ideas at the World Prayers sited. And if you are at all hesitant about your praying, the Comfortable Praying series may interest you.

Sticking to the Cadence

And one last thought: remembering the cadence. Until the habit is built, you may have difficulty adhering to your cadence. I certainly did. Here are 5 tips:

  1. Tie each prayer to a consistent action of that time of day. My morning prayer is when I’m pouring the first cup of coffee, for example.
  2. Relate the prayer to a physical feeling you have at about the same time every day. For me, that feeling is hunger as lunch time approaches. That reminds me of my midday prayer.
  3. Use your cell phone or computer to sound a (peaceful) alarm.
  4. Associate an action with the reason for the prayer. Getting in my car to drive home from the office, or turning off my work computer if I’m working from home, signals the break between my work and my not-work. That reminds me of my end-of-day prayer.
  5. The bedtime prayer is usually the easiest for anyone to remember because many of us were raised with that  prayer as a regular occurrence. For me a specific moment to key my prayer is when I hear the click of turning out the light.

Thanks for joining me in your own prayerful life.

Tim

 

 

November 25, 2019

Posted on November 25, 2019 at 6:30 am by Tim · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Oneness, Prayer, Praying · Tagged with: , ,

Let Judgement Go to Find Comfort Praying (4 of 4)

Let Judgement Go
Photo by Amanda Flavell on Unsplash

Ability to let judgement go is the logical, valuable 4th step in becoming comfortable with prayer, comfortable praying. This post is the continuation and conclusion of parts 1, 2, and 3.

Whatever we are doing, we always want to do it better. That usually starts with focusing on what we think we are doing wrong. That self-judgement,  when it comes to praying, usually creates a much higher hurdle than most people can get over. So we may opt out of a regular prayer practice.

If you’re agreeing with any part of what I’ve said so far, please keep reading.

Let’s look at the benefit of self-reflection over self-judgement. Then let’s consider the positive result that is self-awareness. Finally, we can apply that to praying and decide if it makes a difference. I am betting it will.

Self-judgement can be a burden

Self-judgement can be defined as opinions we have about ourselves based on our thoughts about ourselves and the meanings (good/bad) we attach to those thoughts.

Have you ever finished praying and right after “Amen” thought “That was a lousy prayer” or something along those lines?

That is self-judgement.

Jon Kabat-Zinn said: Our opinions of our selves actually get in the way of being ourselves.”

See why self-judgement can be a burden? Recommendation: avoid self-judgement of your praying. Instead consider that

Self-reflection is a useful tool

Self-reflection is an observational, non-judgemental process. It is like a look in our rearview mirror. It shows us that we’ve “been there, done that”.

Stated more exactly, self-reflection is when we take the time to pause, think, reflect, and evaluate what we have learned (not how well we have performed).

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche offered that: Self-reflection is a practice, a path, and an attitude. It is the spirit of taking an interest in that which we usually try to push away.

Self-reflection works especially well with questions we ask of ourselves. Two that work well for me are

  1. What did I like about my praying this time? (Note: self-reflection can be used with much more than praying.)
  2. What do I want to do differently or better next time?

Recommendation: Make the moment or two after you pray a regular part of your praying practice. Use that time to self-reflect, whether you use questions such as mine or not. Give that a try and you’re likely to find that

Self-awareness is the reward

When we don’t self-judge and we allow ourselves plenty of self-reflection, we have ample opportunity for self-awareness.

How is that a good thing?

Self-reflection brings clearly to mind what we have thought, said, done, and felt. Self-awareness offers clarity of what we can do to maintain what’s good, to improve what can be better, and to discard what is of no more use.

Of several statement of why self-awareness is good, this is one by Gary Van Warmerdam is my favorite: Self-awareness is the first step in creating what you want and mastering your life.

Recommendation: Make time to allow your mind and your heart to work together with what your self-reflection shows you. That work will produce self-awareness. That self-awareness will produce ideas and motivation to maintain some things, to improve other things, and to discard a few things. Those things may be relate to your praying.

Praying the relief from letting judgement go

Sharer of Blessings, thank you for the release and relief of letting go:
letting go of judging my efforts to pray,
of judging myself an inferior pray-er,
of holding my efforts up to my own ridicule.
Thank you for letting me know that
that can all be released
that I may have relief and freedom to know you
in my heart and to know you are the source of my prayers.
That is such sweet and soothing certainty.
Thank you, Good Friend God, that this release
brings me so much closer to knowing you.
And so it is. Amen.

Love & blessings,

Tim

 

 

November 18, 2019

Posted on November 18, 2019 at 7:00 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Awareness, Prayer, Praying · Tagged with: , ,

Where Praying Starts (3 of 4)

Where praying starts seems like something everyone, anyone knows. But is it? Where does praying start is a pretty important question if the answer can make praying easier for us, if the answer can make us more comfortable with praying.

Where Praying Starts

Where Praying Starts Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

No telling how many times I have wrestled with starting a blog post, a poem, or (long, long ago) papers for my college courses. The struggle starts with “where do I start?”. Real wrestling occurs with my implicit answer, “I don’t know!” Frustration comes into the match when “I don’t know” becomes “I have no idea!” and then moves on to “I don’t know how to come up with an idea!”

I suggest that praying becomes really easy when we stop trying to figure out the logical, human, human-life reason for the prayer. Then I offer that prayers do not really begin in our heads. Finally, it’s my belief that our thoughts do not originate our desire to pray. Although we may think they do.

Let me explain.

We receive in our hearts (our spiritual receptor) the notice of something worth praying about. We may not immediately think, “I should pray about that!”. However, somehow the desire for conscious communication with Spirit comes into our mind. Our mind sends the “Let’s pray (or ask for prayer)!” message to our body, usually our voice. (You may want to check the previous post, Praying Is Always Right for a bit more about this.)

The short version: praying really starts with God.

It’s very interesting that this opinion is shared by a variety of spiritual perspectives, in pretty different lingos.

3G Life

CRU (formerly the Campus Crusade for Christ) refers to the 3G Life (and it’s not about cell phone technology!)  It includes three elements of our relationship with God (Spirit):

The parentheses are mine. I mean “hearing” and “listening” not in the pure auditory sense of using our ears. I mean hearing and listening with our heart then transferring the message to our mind that we may act upon it physically.

Now, how does that relate to prayer? Suppose we hear with our hearts that something in our being will benefit from conscious connection with Spirit. Consider that our heart makes that clear in a way our mind can listen to it, understand it with our intellect. Finally, the instruction goes to our body essentially as “Pray on this!”. That action may occur in any form we choose.

The Bible and Prayer

Next, consider that Matthew the apostle said,  …[God] knows what you need before you ask him. 

Turning that arounds makes it definite to me that my knowing what I need (or want or project or believe) comes from God. If that’s true, then my awareness of feeling need (or want or projection or belief) and that praying about it is a good idea must come from God as well.

Our Senses and Prayer

Finally, I’d like to bring this home to the physical being. Our human being is a physical being. We are created from Spirit and we are a creation of Spirit. That spiritual existence is the essence of our physical, human costume. It is not limited, certainly, to the costume. The physical being has as its most essential tools for human existence our 5 senses. These act and react to the universe.

Our eyes see the sky, the earth, other humans, the rain, cars. With our ears we hear music and crying and thunder and traffic and sirens. The sense of smell detects campfire smoke and garlic and roses and skunks. How often does something that comes to you through your senses provoke the thought of a prayer? The sight or sound or smell or touch or taste may actually give you reason for prayer or it may indirectly make you think of a reason to pray. Either way, the prayer, the praying started with Spirit.

Consider, then, that praying is meant to be. We are gifted with the opportunity to connect, to communicate with Spirit. Spirit is where praying starts. Then, we get to participate in it. That’s an awesome gift. Awesome, too, that we can participate in an unlimited number of ways, none of them wrong.

Gratitude to know where praying starts

Good Friend God,
with great gratitude and comfort I know
you originate my desire to pray.
I know, too, you guide the origin of my prayers
and my ability to offer prayer for others.
I love as more and more I learn
to hear you with my heart
then let my mind listen to my heart
and enjoy my body praying with you,
for whatever reasons you start
in me.
And so it is. And so I thank you, God. Amen.

Love & blessings,
Tim

 

 

November 11, 2019

 

Posted on November 11, 2019 at 5:45 am by Tim · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: God, Prayer, Praying · Tagged with: