Chanting Mindfully for Peace

Meditation in Rocca di Cerrare by Dedda 71. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pagan_meditation2.jpg

Peaceful Meditation

This week’s challenge was to practice mindfulness while chanting or praying — to keep your focus only on the words of the chant or prayer or vision and to notice what intruded.

I didn’t manage to do a separate chant ahead of time so I combined tonight’s practice with the mindfulness practice.  I actually always try to stay mindful when I chant so I really just added trying to simultaneously stay mindful and yet notice what crossed my mind.  I wasn’t very mindful tonight.

I was interested to see that the thoughts that arose related to launching this prayer effort.  I’ve been really excited because being a part of moving toward peace has been very important to me for a long time.  Yet I don’t have the feeling so far that very many others are excited, so at first my thoughts jumped to feeling that this has failed (even though I know that it takes time to launch something like this and I have a lot of work still to do about getting the word out).

I pulled my thoughts back to the chant and then they wandered to the point, six or seven years back, when a dear friend–with excellent skills at using right listening to guide her friends deeper into their own hearts–led me to create a workshop I called Journey to Peace along with realizing that I seriously want to be assisting the world toward peace.  I haven’t taught the workshop in a while and I thought I should dust it off and bring it out again.

I don’t feel there’s a deep analysis to do about these thoughts as they swirled around the launching of this project and why I started; doesn’t seem too surprising given what and why I was chanting.  Sometimes I do note deeper issues like some part of me that wants to distract me from the possibility of being peaceful, at ease and happy…. but not tonight.

The last few minutes I managed to successfully use my trick of watching the words float across my inner visual “screen” to stay focused only on the chant.  That, of course, was when I finally dropped into a deeper and more peaceful space.

Tell me about your experience with the challenge.  Or just how it feels to participate in meditating.

 

Praying for me or thee

By Presearch (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What a day for prayers for peace.  I participated in the Global Meditation Project’s prayer for peace at noon EDT and then chanted again for peace for Collective Prayer Sundays–lovely.  I tried an experiment based on my challenge to those of you who are participating in CPS:  yesterday I chanted (the lovingkindness chant) for myself, at noon today I chanted for Earth, and late this evening when I participated in CPS I first chanted 10 minutes for myself and then 10 minutes for Earth.

The challenge grew out of my experience over some years with the lovingkindness chant.  As previously mentioned, traditionally the chanting is done in a series, first chanting for yourself, then loved ones, then people you don’t like, then enemies (with my students I divide that into people you know and don’t like and people you don’t know but don’t like [such as president, dictator, actor, etc.], then the world, then all sentient beings.  For the first years that I chanted, I spent very little time on chanting for myself out of some sense that a “good” person should chant for others and not so selfish as to chant for self.

Five or six years ago I had a sort of epiphany that led me to chant only for myself most of the time.  So many things changed for me with that one small shift.  First of all, I soon realized that chanting for myself expanded my heart so much that it really changed the quality of chanting for others for the better.  For a long time when I chanted for myself I’d become choked up or openly start sobbing.  I realized I’d just about never been that kind or caring toward myself and it tapped into a deep well of emotions about my worthiness and need for love.

The more I expanded and felt my heart glow and vibrate from the chanting the more I understood that oneness means there’s really no difference between chanting for myself and chanting for others.  So my basic experience in the chanting I did the last two days was that there was very little difference for me in how it felt to chant only for myself (20 minutes) or only for Earth (15 minutes) but when I chanted first for myself (10 minutes) and then for the Earth (10 minutes) I felt much more expanded and full when I came to the second part, where I chanted for Earth — and I would say I was much more expanded by the end of 20 minutes total than I was last Sunday when I chanted 30 minutes just for Earth.

Like I said, there’s no right or wrong to this.  All of that is just my experience.  I’m very interested to hear whether anyone tried the challenge and, if so, how it felt to you.  As always, please tag with CollPraySun — and mentioning the page:  https://bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com/collective-prayer-sunday/ so that people can get the skinny on this effort to spread prayers for peace around the world will be much appreciated!

Collective Prayer Sundays Week Two

	This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b43838

Once again, it’s just after midnight EDT and I know many places are way into Sunday.  This is also one of those Sundays I warned you about when I’m just writing, hey, here’s the prayer reminder and post comments here if you wish.

When to pray:  10 minutes minimum between 7:00 and 11:59 pm in your time zone

What prayer:  any prayer, chant, spell, guided meditation for peace, etc. that you wish.  Suggested chant:

May the earth be filled with lovingkindness

May she be well

May she be peaceful and at ease

May she be happy

If you tried the challenge I made in Wednesday’s post, post comments here or do your own post and tag it with CollPraySun.  E-mail me at collpraysun at gmail dot com if you want to comment privately.

Prayers, visioning, chanting — are they something? Part 1

Back when we were gearing up for the Iraq War I was very excited when James Twyman put out the call for a million to participate in praying for peace.  I believe in the power of prayer and the collective power multiplied when people pray together so I thought it had a good shot.  We didn’t get called together more than a few times before the war started (and after that Twyman quit calling us to prayer and used the large list he’d garnered to market his products endlessly…).   I don’t know if others felt that prayer failed — I just felt we didn’t have enough time and/or enough people.

When the collective prayer stopped I started saying the lovingkindness chant every day for half an hour.  The chanting changed me–softened me, changed my attitude about the president and bin Laden.  I believe that when we each make those changes it has an impact on the whole web of oneness but of course I have no way of knowing whether there was a specific impact outside of me due to the chanting.

At the time this was going on, all around me people talked about how we had to do something.  Among many people I knew the same theme kept emerging and whenever I suggested that the best course would be to hold a vision of peace, to create peace within ourselves, to chant and pray for peace, etc. I was told, “That’s all nice, but we really have to do something.”  I didn’t realize that praying was doing nothing, that it counted as nothing.

I kept thinking, “What if prayer is something?”

Many political issues have arisen since that time.  I know lots of people who feel called to act when each issue arises  I was a long time activist myself so I get it. But  I keep hearing the vitriol, the name-calling, the fury that seems to fuel a lot of that action and I cringe every time I encounter it.  I keep praying and chanting and trying to clear everything in me that stands in the way of being peace.  When I suggest that becoming peace and praying for peace and holding the vision of harmony might be useful I’m told, “But you have to do something.  When you see this wrong you have to do something.”  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, apparently praying is seen by most as nothing.

I keep thinking, “What if prayer is something?”

Lately I’ve been around lots of talk about global warming and the horrible future we face if people don’t change radically in their behaviors.  I suggest that it would help if we gathered to envision the earth as healed, prayed about the earth being healed, healed ourselves.  I’m always told, “That’s nice, but you have to DO something (often followed by lists of behaviors that ‘people’ must change…).”  Yeah, it seems I’m hard to convince of the truth so many apparently see, that visioning and praying and chanting and healing are nothing.

I keep thinking, “I believe it’s something.”