“There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening, we shall hear the right word.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This week we will consider prayer as a way to listen deeply to our innermost voice, whether we hear that as our own voice, the wisdom of Gaia, or the voice of God. Prayer as listening is close to meditation, it is a way to centre ourselves, to clear our monkey minds of all the clutter and noise, and be present in the moment.
Listening prayer is about learning to sit and simply be. Of course, your thoughts will go all over the place, but let them. Repeating a short word or phrase, or focusing on your breath, can help you note your thoughts and let them go. Just notice and don’t focus on any particular thought. This isn’t easy to do, but it can be learned. UU Minister Erik Walker Wikstrom, author of Simply Pray, suggests this exercise: set aside three minutes to send your gaze around your room without resting too long on any one thing. As you look around steadily note what you see – this is an armchair, this is a table, this is my child. Try to give equal weight to all you see, and keep your eyes moving. Listening prayer is like this, noting your thoughts, big and small, but not giving any of them too much attention.
At moments you will find that you can sit and not think and simply be. This is an on-going practice, so the experience will come and go.
Try a listening practice for a few minutes each day. Given how noisy our lives can be, find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed. Sit comfortably. Find a word or phrase that works for you, it might be `peace` or `honour the light`, or use a focus on your breath to help clear your mind. It will take practice!