Posts Tagged ‘silence’

Am I Doing It Right?- How To Pray

Written by Kate • January 3, 2012 •
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Prayer Candles

Prayer Candles- Photo Thanks to Barkaw

I, like so many people in the world, am a lapsed Catholic.  I’ve tried several times to rejoin the church but it just does not work for me. But this post isn’t really about that. I don’t really have the basic foundations from organized religion for prayer. Is that good? Or bad? Who can tell! But for someone like me, a Type A Virgo, I wanted to be sure I’m doing “it” “right”.  “It” being everything and “right” meaning the proper way.  So rather than turning inward and feeling my way through it to what feels right and sacred for me, when I first decided to pray, I decided that the best way to start was to google “how to pray” so I could get information from experts on how to pray properly.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprising, I couldn’t find a decent article on the web that would guide a newbie spiritual person on how to pray that wasn’t oriented to specific prayers for specific problems from a specific faith. So I had to blaze my own path of meaningful prayer. I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I am, of course, no expert nor am I presenting the following as THE WAY to pray. Instead, if you are like me and would like some guidance as you start down your path, here are some of the most noteworthy lessons I’ve learned.

Here are the top 6 lessons I learned on creating a meaningful prayer practice:

1.  You have permission. You may be the type of person for whom this point doesn’t make sense. But there are a lot of us out there who feel bad about wanting some of the things we want.  But if you can’t be honest in your own prayer practice, just between you and your God, well, then pray for honesty and courage. Give yourself permission to pray for the wishes that are in your heart. If you want world peace,  include that in your prayer. If you want $1,000,000,000, include that. The point is that you can pray for anything that’s in your heart.  Don’t be shy about whether or not it’s worthy or appropriate to pray for something. The process will work itself it out. And just because you’re afraid to own what you feeling or think doesn’t make your desire any less real. So bring it into the light. It took me a few months to really plumb the depths of my heart for some of the ideas and dreams that I had put away. I had to work at accessing some of those wishes.  It’s still a process but some of my long stifled ideas and dreams are unfolding and I bring these to my prayer session.

2. By rote or spontaneity.  I started out with a few prayers that worked for me, including St. Francis’ prayer and a loving kindness prayer that has always worked for me. I also add in some of the recurring requests I have, including the lifting of all illusion and surrendering my will, each time. I also allow for new prayers to rise and be allowed. So today  I may prayer for courage and tomorrow for more discipline. Understand that your prayer is YOUR time and there is no “wrong” way to do it.

3. Some days you feel it and some you don’t. Some days my time spent in prayer feels quite sacred, intimate, and pretty much amazing. Other days, I just barely feel it and it feels like I’m just going through the motions. I’ve learned not to judge myself or the process. It is all good.  Just keeping practicing.

4. Make it a daily habit. I have found, through trial and error, that without a daily habit of praying, meaningful prayer just doesn’t happen.  So I have created a morning routine which means waking up earlier than most people and starting each day with my spiritual practice. Now, it’s so ingrained and helpful that I actually feel out of sorts with myself if I skip it.  So try getting up 10 minutes early and adding in 5 minutes of prayer. That’s all it takes to get started.  And once you’ve gotten the habit, begin tinkering with the length of time you sit in prayer.

5.  Make it real. Akin to point #1, permission, make it real. Praying by rote, including the same prayer pattern you’ve set up on a day to day basis, is a great way to start. And as you get more accustomed to praying, you’ll noticed that spaces will open in your heart and you’ll noticed new things about yourself and what it is that you really want in the world. Don’t be afraid to honor what it is that you’re being shown and what you’re feeling.

6. Remember to be grateful. I now start each prayer session on a note of gratitude that I am there in communion with God and with any recent lessons I’ve gotten.  I speak my gratitude aloud and by being in gratitude, it moves me into a better feeling place and it is a great place to be as I begin my prayers.  Gratitude for what you’ve received is an important element in feeling better and in acknowledging that your prayers have been answered, even if they’ve not been answered in the way you had been hoping.

What has been your experience? Do have a particular way to pray this working for you?


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Are You Afraid of the Quiet?

Written by Kate • December 10, 2011 •

Morning silence

Image Thanks to Mara ~earth light~

While I was at the Uplevel Live conference in Atlanta, with Christine Kane, I was speaking to a fellow attendee. She and I were discussing how to meditate, or more importantly, how to be still so that you can hear your inner voice speak to you. She shared with me that she was never able to stand the quiet, that if she was home, the music or the TV was always on.  Do you know this feeling? I hear often enough from other people that they feel uncomfortable unless the TV or the radio is on.

This is not my current experience. Over the past several years, I have slowly learned to include more and more silence in my day. It has been a very gradual process, with lots of steps forward and many steps back. But it’s been a steady progression as I move to gently root out all the different distractions my ego craves to keep me occupied and out of the present moment.

I long ago moved my TV into a totally separate room from my living space and I now rarely have it on. I used to listen to NPR almost all day but I have also unplugged from all news.  [It’s pretty cool to unplug from all the drama and still laws and initiatives all get implemented. I just don’t have to get caught up in the hype prior to “vote”]. I also have found myself listening to less and less music. I have learned to enjoy silence. Thanks for the idea, Tim Ferris!

To be clear, we’re talking about silence not meditation. Meditation is a separate act in which one sits for a length of time and the focus of meditation is to begin the process of identifying one’s thoughts to begin realizing that we’re not our thoughts and much more. But for our purposes today,  this post is focused on being able to stand being in silence, either while doing something or while sitting. No need to try to meditate, silence your mind, or do anything else while learning to enjoy the silence. Silence is its own reward.

I’ve heard from many sources that it’s important to have silence in your life. “God’s voice is found in the silence” is a common theme in the spirituality community and I have found this to be absolutely true. Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Caroline Myss, to name a few, all extol the virtues of silence.

So what can you do to begin to experience silence? First, no matter what has happened in your life or how fast you want to accomplish this, go about this gently and lovingly. You have the rest of your life to accomplish long periods of silence and there is no need to turn this beautiful tool into a weapon against yourself, yet one more thing you’re not doing well or that you’re failing at doing. Respect yourself and the process by taking it slow.

Second, if you’ve experienced trauma and you know there is something that is ready to come up, get some help from a trained professional while you work through this, if at all possible. And if that isn’t possible, go even slower and at the first time of the trauma coming up again, distract yourself from the silence until you’re feeling better. As they say, Rome was not built in a day! Don’t re-engage with your trauma until you’re truly ready, with all the support you need.

Start your relationship with silence in really really small doses. Sit or lie still and try to be silent for one minute. 60 seconds and you’re done for today. For those of you who find the 60 seconds still too difficult, try going for a short walk around the driveway in silence for those 60 seconds. The movement, combined with the silence, may make it more acceptable.

Once you’ve gotten about 60 seconds down, where you can be in silence for just 60 seconds, keep it up once a day for 7 days. Do NOT be discouraged if you find yourself resisting this new habit. First, it’s a new habit and all new habits are difficult to stay with. Second, it’s a new habit that will bring about a profound change in your relationship with your ego and your ego will resist this with all its might- that’s what it was designed to do after all!

But once you’re able to sit [or walk] with silence for 60 seconds for a week,  extend your session by 15 to 30 seconds for the next week.  And build from there. Perhaps you think that that 1 to 2 minutes is too easy.  All I have to say is try it for a week and then tell me that.  As Steve Pavlina advocates, take the 30 day trial and see what you can accomplish in creating a new habit in 30 days. You’ll know if you love or not at the end of the 30 days and the 30 days will help cement the new habit as a daily one.

I know how hard this is. I’ve tried it. But it’s worth it. From 1 minute to a goal of at 15 or 20 minutes per day, sitting in silence will help ground you, help you begin to be more present throughout your day, and to connect to the Divine.

Go for it today!

Have you learned to sit in silence? What has been your experience?


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