I don’t know if it’s just in Edinburgh where it’s advertised but there’s ads on the side of buses sometimes that say “try praying”. The last time I saw one of these ads I internally rolled my eyes. To me, praying has always been synonymous with Christianity or organised religion in general. I also thought that the advertisement was exploiting the vulnerability of people at the end of their tether in order to further a religious agenda.
Something I realised yesterday was that you don’t actually have to believe in God, Jesus or angels to pray. All it requires is the inclination of your mind towards the idea that there might be some sort of higher power out there that we don’t understand or the smallest ounce of faith that something out there might be able to help us.
It gets tiring turning to ourselves all the time when we’re going through a struggle. Sometimes we don’t have an answer to give. Sometimes the answer is just acceptance of how we feel by surrender to prayer.
A few months ago, I went to a Course In Miracles meeting with my Mam. Seeing as I’ve come to stay with her for a week, I went with her again last night. During the meeting, the topic of despair came up and we briefly talked about prayer. Although A Course In Miracles is intrinsically Christian, the depth of knowledge and wisdom within its teachings knows no walls or separation. I feel safe to hear talk of God and the Holy Ghost in the context of ACIM because the teachings themselves explore the only truly important thing in the world: love.
So when I heard about prayer, I didn’t recoil. I realised how much prayer could really help me in my life. James, the person who leads the meetings, told us at one point the story of a woman who was in a period of despair in her life. She was sobbing in her bathroom, feeling truly stuck and powerless and decided to pray. Two days later, a friend gave her the book for A Course In Miracles.
James also told us about an ACIM meeting he went to at a workshop where he was faced with working with a man who agitated him. It was actually a really funny story, we were all laughing as he told us about how gormless and clueless he was – how he wondered why this man was even here in the first place. James was determined to see the Christ – or holiness or love – in this man, so he prayed. And he did see the ‘Christ’ in him. He said the whole experience had a profound and healing effect on him.
All of us experience times in which we feel really stuck. And hearing these stories from James affirmed that for me. That no matter how wise or intelligent someone might be – there is no shame in holding your hands up and saying: “I need help here, I’m really struggling”.
I actually did that today for the first time. I woke up with a headache and had a slow start to the day. An engineer was round to fix the boiler in my Mam’s place so I read some of You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay while he was here and started working through the exercises in her book. After he left, I realised it was already noon and all I could think of was all the things I should or should not be doing. Some of the things on the “should” list involved money which made me anxious. After growing more and more anxious, I stopped and said: “I don’t have to do those things today. What difference does a couple of days make if I do it later? I’ll just do my blogging.”
That cheered me up for a little while but then my mood started to dip again. It was 1pm. I hadn’t yet brushed my teeth or washed my face and I hadn’t eaten healthy enough for me to feel good about myself. Over the past few months, if my mind even inclines to all the things I “should” be doing or what I’ve not done, the urge to self-harm appears like clockwork. My mind darted to the book I’d just been reading and about how I should be feeling better if it was, in fact, working. But things take time.
I headed to the bathroom to get ready for the day and prayed for the first time since I was a little kid. I didn’t put my hands together, I just looked towards the window and closed my eyes, feeling the blue light beneath my lids and asked for some help. I said something like: “Please, I need some help here, I’m finding this difficult. Please show me what I have to do.” The surrender took a little weight off my shoulders.
Something else I realised during the meeting last night was that over the past few months, I’ve really lost a lot of faith. Paula, James’ wife, said that we can lose faith but the seed will always be there. Admitting in a safe space that I had lost a lot of faith reminded me of how much I used to have. This gave me some hope and I felt cradled by the compassion of the people at the meeting.
These meetings start and end with five minutes of meditation. During the first meditation, I was quite unsettled. I was hyperaware of my body and my breathing and I had to “start over” multiple times. The closing meditation was different. My Mam chose an angel card for the year ahead and it was “Joy”. Meditating on this was really profound for me. With my hands upturned on my knees, I felt a presence in the room and subsequently the sense that someone was holding my hands. Then I felt as if I was being embraced by something. Towards the end, I saw a blue, iridescent light gleaming in my mind.
Lisa, another person at the meeting, said at the end that she felt she’d been filled up from the mothership. I started laughing, I felt the same.
I don’t know if the presence I felt was indication of faith coming back, if it was the Angel of Joy itself appearing before me, but it felt good. I felt safe and looked after which is something I’ve been craving. And I’m happy that I’ve embraced prayer into my life.
Do you pray at all? Do you pray to something in particular or have something specific that you recite? Let me know in the comments! Thanks so much for reading. 🙂
– SMUT. ❤ xxxx