The Meditate and Pray-a-thon ctd.

I did it. My goal was to meditate and pray every day for seven days, and I succeeded. Wahoo for me! This turned out to be far easier than I had expected because once I made the commitment, I discovered that I was hungry for spiritual practice. What had previously seemed impossible to wedge into my daily schedule suddenly seemed easy.

So, I finished my week. Now what? I find that I want to do more, but what I have in mind is far, far scarier than the tiny commitment I made before. Of course, the question remains as to why I — a raging secularist — am driven to meditate, and even worse, to pray.

In my week of practice, I found that my mind was clearer and my sense of possibility more open. In other ways, I had a tough week. Lots of high-pressure work, and three times last week I lost my temper and spouted off to people. I’d love to provide details, but these are private moments that involve others, and even in the age of Too Much Information, I feel a responsibility to keep some things private.

I hate it when I get angry and take my temper out on others. I feel awful for hours, and I’m often baffled as to what makes me blow. (My temper goes off with a whoosh as if   someone had touched a match to a pool of gasoline.)

Meditation helped. As I sat and focused on what Zen teachers call a great question,* the feelings underneath the anger bubbled up. I began to understand what was touching off at least some of my fury. (In one case, my anger stood on a bedrock of fear.) Understanding led me to apologize, which led to an email exchange that led to deeper understanding and far less fear for me. Meanwhile, prayer continues to help me set my intention for each day.

Those are the logical explanations, but on a deeper level, daily meditation and prayer simply feel right, particularly in a quest for goodness. And so <gulp>, I’m now making a much bigger commitment. I hereby commit to practicing meditation and prayer every day for the rest of my quest. That means I’ll be doing this for the next nine months and one week.

This seems like a huge commitment, far too large for me to fulfill and somewhat scary in a way I don’t quite understand. Fool that I am, I’m going to give it a try anyway.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


*I’m currently meditating on the great question of What am I? As I inhale, I silently ask  myself: “What am I?” As I exhale, I respond: “Don’t know.” I love the way this short circuits all of my assumptions.

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7 Responses to The Meditate and Pray-a-thon ctd.

  1. Darrell Icenogle says:

    I had a flair-up myself. I’m stumping myself on some questions about it: Is anger ever justified? Do I always have to apologize? If there are people who consistently get under my skin, in spite of my best efforts to understand and avoid the conflict, am I allowed to give up?

    I have to guess that if I were fully enlightened, my answers to all three questions would be ‘no.’

    I admire the courage behind your commitment, and look forward to hearing about how your practice changes you.

  2. dianesilver says:

    Nancy – I deeply appreciate your support, although I remain stumped as to why you, a confirmed, non-religious sort would so wholeheartedly endorse a practice that involves prayer, but then again, how am I, a raging secularist, doing it? We are fascinating contradictions!

    Darrell – I love the idea of a “flair-up” of anger. Kind of like a flair up of an illness. On the other hand, sometimes anger is justified, just like sometimes fear is justified. I think that’s why these are difficult emotions to sort through. I think anger is justified when a soul is actually wronged. The question, of course, is how to deal with that wrong, and some of the reasons why I’m bothered by my anger are: (a) Often I ignite when there isn’t a serious wrong involved and (b) I turn into a frothing at the mouth nutcase. Being angry wouldn’t feel so bad, I suspect, if I could be more reasoned in my response. I guess the first questions — if we are truly trying to see the, well, the goodness in anger — are: What just happened? Is my anger justified? What’s the most productive and reasonable way to deal with what just happened?

    Nancy commented previously on how Aikido is a philosophy as well as a physical art. Looking at my anger from an Aikido POV, the question would probably then be: How can I respond to this situation, which is a real wrong, in a way that keeps both me and the person who wronged me safe?

    Have I got that right, Nancy?

  3. Kelley says:

    I love that you are bravely stepping into this commitment. How interesting that you are seeing the effects already…way to go! You inspire me to do the same.

  4. dianesilver says:

    Gosh, Kelley, thanks! I’m not certain how much I’m seeing in the way of effects. I’ve mentioned some, but I have to laugh because part of me expects fireworks in my brain. The impact seems much more subtle.

  5. I do think some anger is justified. I also suspect that when I blow up at people, it isn’t usually particularly justified or even caused by whatever I yelled about. A lot of angry responses come out of something else going on under the surface — or at least, mine do.

    Diane, I think you nailed the Aikido approach. You don’t want to let a real wrong go, but you want to respond in a way that both ensures it doesn’t happen again and does not drive the other person away. (Well, you might want the other person to go away, but you don’t want that person to get angry and retaliate.)

    As for prayer: I don’t pray, because I don’t believe in God and therefore can’t think of what I would be praying to. Also, because my main memory of prayer is saying “Oh, God, please don’t let the lightning strike me” when I was stuck outside in a thunderstorm — a prayer that convinced me I didn’t believe in God, or at least in any kind of God who personally intervened to save lives. (It also struck me as a pathetic plea: “Save me from my own stupidity.”) But I don’t have a problem with anyone else praying or even believing in God. I don’t believe in telling people what they should believe!

    It’s when people tell me I must believe what they do, or try to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the community (like efforts to undermine the teaching of science because they believe the Bible must be taken literally) that I get — hmm — angry.

  6. Pingback: Consciousness and Spirituality

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