A lot can be said about the spiritual path. We could intellectualize until we’re blue in the face or we can follow a simple commandment: live in love. Everything else is just window dressings.
One simple form of living in love comes down to us through the Jesus Prayer. Monks going all the way back to the Desert Mothers and Fathers were known to have spent the entire day repeating this prayer to themselves. They would follow the breath using it as a sort of mantra:
“Lord Jesus” (breathe in)
“Son of God” (breathe out)
“Have mercy on me” (breathe in)
“A sinner” (breathe out)
While it’s doubtful we laypeople will start walking around silently praying all day it is a good goal to strive towards. We can set a few reminders for ourselves based on our internal dialogue. Any time we aren’t acting from a place of love we can return to our breath and recite the Jesus prayer.
Whenever we feel aversion to a situation we can return to our breath and recite the Jesus prayer to ourselves.
When thoughts of lust or violence come to mind we can return to our breath and recite the Jesus prayer.
At work, even performing the most menial tasks can turn into a form of meditation. As we cut vegetables or fold clothes, put away files or clean; we can return to our breath and recite the Jesus prayer.
Cussing out the guy that just cut you off in traffic? Return to the breath and recite the Jesus prayer.
If a deeply Christian prayer sets something off in you we’ll take an AA approach. They have what’s known as the sick man’s prayer
“This is a sick person. God save me from being angry. Thy will be done. Not my own. “-follow the same breathing pattern and call it a day
Obviously, this practice is all well and good but one would benefit greatly from a bit of quiet reflection at night.
NIGHT TIME MEDITATION
Sit down in your prayer space. Pull your heels into you and settle in a meditative posture. Just be with you a while. Breathe deeply for a few rounds and just be a human in a body a moment. Deep barrow breathing is vital. Breathe fully in and allow that breath to fill you. Relax and smile as you exhale. Let all the weight of the day go and be you. Safe and sound in your personal space. Breathe in all the life and love of being.
Start filling yourself with love. As you inhale feel the love filling you. Hold it in a moment and feel the love God has for you. Exhale allowing that love to permeate throughout your being. Sit with it a moment. Breathing in that love and remind yourself of it. Holding it close to you and exhaling that love throughout your being. If you need a mantra to anchor yourself then breathe in reminding yourself:
“You are loved.”
Hold it in for a moment feeling the love within. Exhale telling yourself:
“You are loved.”
Once that sense of deep self love is really established visualize a person you adore. This could be one of your children, a parent you’re close to, sister, whoever; just picture that person in front of you.
Once you see them clearly breathe in all of that love you cultivated for your self and exhale pushing that love into them. Wish them well and share that love with them.
Next. (And here’s where it can be difficult) Focus on someone you dislike. The deeper the sorrow the better. Visualize them before you and breathe in that love exhaling the same feelings of contentment you just shared with your loved one. (If thoughts of animosity arise allow them to. No one gets this right at first try) Just push as much light and love as you can into them. If you find yourself incapable of sharing that love add them into your morning practice outlined in How To Start Your Day. No harm, no foul; it’s just a personal area for you to work on.
Return to your breath. Return to your body. Return to the love that wells up deep within all of us. Breathe in light and love.
Now, focus on someone you are indifferent to. A gas station clerk, the snarky kid at the 7-11, it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s someone who you don’t actually know. Breathing in love, exhale that love towards them. Wish them well. Allow the cosmic Union of humanity to flow through you. We are all people who want love and kindness to be shown to us; give them that. Pass the love you have of yourself into them and wish them well.
Once you’ve established a desire to be that example of love in everyone you meets life visualize all of these people around you. Feel the desire to love and be loved connecting you all. Breathe in love and exhale feeling the connection filling you all. Do this part for a while. Like really feel all of you being interconnected by your desire to love and receive love. Feel that bond within humanity connecting you all. Breathe in the love, hold it and circulate it throughout the group.
Once love is solidified and you feel the urge to share it with everyone you meet do exactly that. Breathe love in and exhale love to earth. Faces will arise. World leaders will come into view. People you never thought of will start to surface, just go with it. Breathe in love and share it with humanity.
To the mystic. To the one who wants to be the change. To the one who wants to be the reason another smiles. Switch the prayer with whatever momentary reminder works for you. Pick something that makes you want to do better. Just make sure you close every day the same way. Find the person you love, the person you hate, the person you are indifferent to and the planet you live on and wish them well. Wish they all had the light and love you find in your spiritual practice. That’s the key to a lasting peace.
Feel free to share this with others and add what tips you’ve found helpful in the comments. No one is rejected or scorned. We all want love. It is ultimately up to us to live in love and create the world we want to see.
Peace be with you all.