Saturday, January 12, 2013

Meditation, Affirmation and Prayer

The Value of Meditation, Affirmation and Prayer
                 On my first visit to the Sangha Center, the topic of the discussion for that Sunday morning was “M.A.P. in the G.A.P.”  Rev. Dr. David Phears is a “Master of the Acronym.”   He uses them skillfully for making the key points in his presentations highly understandable and all but unforgettable.  The concept of “M.A.P. in the G.A.P.” came from his creative mind.  M.A.P. is an acronym that stands for “Meditation, Affirmation and Prayer.”  G.A.P. stands for “God’s Area of Preparation.”  Given what I was going through at the time, this topic really resonated with me.  It pretty well summed up the “Spiritual Tools” that I was lacking and in search of to abate the mindset of self-denial and loathing that was hounding me.  In fact, the youth group of Sangha were selling blue rubber wristband with the phrase “M.A.P. in the G.A.P.” that Sunday morning.  I bought one and religiously (quite literally…) wear it to this day to remind me of my need to meditate, affirm and pray everyday.

                In later services, G.A.P. was further explained as a person’s D.S.P. or “Daily Spiritual Practice.”  This refers to these elements that you utilize on a daily basis to address and deal with your life’s issues and challenges.  I found that the classes I attended at Sangha helped me to formulate exactly what my daily regimen would be to address my dilemma regarding the aftermath of my surgeries.  This disciplined approach, when firmly locked into one’s train of thought, provides you with an immediately accessible “Tool Chest” to dip into to access the appropriate thoughts and patterns to understand and align your response and behavior.  For example, if you were posed with an individual or situation that got on your last nerve, you could all but instantaneously draw upon a thought pattern that would put the moment into its due perspective and free you of any feelings of anger or frustration so you could go on from there with ease and grace.  Once I got attuned to this ability, it became perfectly natural and automatic to react in a positive manner in every situation.  It takes practice, but then again, so does anything valuable in a person’s life.

                Meditation, affirmation and prayer are key components in assembling and constructing your “Daily Spiritual Principles.”  These concepts have definable meanings unto themselves, but they all mesh together perfectly and are inseparable.  Let me discuss what they mean to me in reverse order.

                The idea of Personal Prayer takes on a much different meaning in a New Thought environment than it does in conventional religious practice.  In Religious Science, prayer is not the action of asking for abundance, favor, love, clarity, forgiveness, etc.  In the New Thought, it is the acknowledgement that God, Allah or Spirit is Universal and all there is, was or can ever be.  If that is held true than YOU are God as is every element, great or small, that makes up the Universe.  You ARE your own personal God or Higher Entity.  Therefore, you are the one holding the reins of your life’s sleigh ride and you have the power and responsibility to control your thoughts and actions. Given this precept, the idea of praying is not an activity of some other entity outside of you bestowing favor and promises.  Prayer becomes the act of YOU confirming that YOU have the right, power and privilege to realize, unify, recognize, hold grateful and release every thought that you manifest and action that you take in your life.

                Affirmation then is the process of aligning your thoughts in the positive manner necessary to get the desired results in Life.  By taking the time to actually define specific affirmative thoughts, you are confirming that the thoughts are constructed and expressed properly to realize the maximum positive effect.  It allows you to avoid and eliminate any negative perspective you may be carrying forward.  It helps you to replace words like “cannot” with “can,”  “need” with “require” and “dislike’ with “love.”  Affirmations provide a person the ability to organize their thoughts and actions so as to manifest the positive and enlightened results they desire or as many people say, “Eliminate the ‘Monkey Chatter’ in your Mind.”  By stating those results upfront, you are constructing a clearly defined road map to success, abundance, happiness and prosperity.  Many people write out their affirmative thoughts down and post them above their desk, bathroom mirror or on their refrigerator for easy availability to confirm their purpose and presence.  I like to share my affirmations with another person.  It allows me to get a third-party perspective on my affirmative thoughts to make sure that I have my thoughts aligned properly and that all of the necessary elements are in place to assure the results I require and deserve.  Conversely, I love to have others share their personal affirmations with me.  It gives me an immense pleasure to be able to hold up their personal life mirror and let them know that they are whole and complete and that which they affirm in their lives is good, proper and positive.

Affirmations are not some “New Thought” concept that gained popularity because of exposure through the Oprah Winfrey Show.  The Bible is, of course, filled with profound affirmative thought that brought me solace as I was dealing with my cranial issues.  The messages found within the Book of Proverbs are deep and universally meaningful.  For example, in Proverbs 3 you find…

My child, remember my teachings and instructions and obey them completely and Peace, Mercy and Truth will not forsake you.  Bind them about your Neck.  Write them upon the tablet of your Heart. With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment.  Always let him lead you and he will clear the road for you to follow.  Don't ever think that you are wise enough, but respect the Lord and stay away from evil. This will make you healthy and you will feel strong.”

“Wisdom is more valuable than precious jewels; nothing you want compares with her. In her right hand Wisdom holds a long life, and in her left hand are wealth and honor. Wisdom makes life pleasant and leads us safely along. Wisdom is a life-giving tree, the source of happiness for all who hold on to her. “

Ah yes, “Wisdom” is an important attribute to affirm in the Heart, Mind and Soul.  Wisdom is basic, but we all too often forget that wisdom comes naturally, but like any other positive human trait, must be practiced, especially when dealing with moments of self-doubt.  Wisdom clears away the litter and allows you to see the Path that is of the least resistance and most benefits.
One of my favorite thoughts on “Wisdom” I found in the lyrics written by Allan Price, the former keyboardist for The Animals, in the title song for the movie, Oh Lucky Man. It states…

“If wisdom hangs around your neck like pearls, instead of chains, you are a Lucky Man.”

Now that pretty well sums it up, don’t you think?  I think Alan may he spent some time delving into The Book of Proverbs.

A word of caution when you are sharing personal affirmations, goals and ambitions with others and with yourself: Avoid the dreaded “Dream Drainers.”  These are individuals who look to immediately take a negative stance to most any affirmative notion or action that appears before them.  Do not fall prey to the negativity that they want to drop into your thought pattern.  Do not take the time to explain or argue with a “Dream Drainer.”  Just walk away.  You will not change their attitude or mind.  Oh, and worst of all: Do not be your own “Dream Drainer.”  You do have the intelligence, wisdom, creativity and skills to sculpt your life into exactly what you want it to be.   Take a deep, affirmative breath and walk your path in balance with ease and grace.

That brings us to Mediation as the last element to look at in the observation of The Value of Meditation, Affirmation and Prayer.  I saved it for last because this element had particular importance in my quest to “Drain My Brain and Find My Mind.”  I found it to be particularly valuable in the recovery process from the trauma surrounding my brain surgeries.  As I explained earlier, I had practiced the Art of Meditation prior to the surgeries, but when I could utilize the practice as a tool for a particular purpose, it took on a much higher dimension to me and lent strength to my life aside from my natural and consistent focus upon pain reduction.

    Let me share with you a meditative moment that I do not believe I could have experienced had I not been present in a meditative state.  One beautiful, sunny morning I woke up in my wonderful Newport Beach residence and wandered out to my deck to do my routine morning meditation.  I sat in a chair, took a deep healing breath and began the process of getting in touch with my inner self.  About a minute into the process, I realized that a bird had landed on the eave just above my right shoulder and close to my ear.  About fifteen seconds after the landing the bird went, “Chirp, chirp.”  I took a deep breath reveling in the presence of this creature of MY Universe sharing MY meditation.   About fifteen seconds transpired and the bird went “Chirp, chirp…chirp, chirp.”  Another fifteen seconds passed and the bird went “Chirp, chirp…chirp, chirp…chirp, chirp.”  It let out six chirps.  Fifteen seconds passed and then there were eight chirps.  Fifteen seconds and now ten chirps.  Another fifteen seconds and the bird regaled me with 12 perfect chirps.  Again, fifteen seconds and the bird started its chirping.  I was ready to count with my new friend to 14, but the bird stopped at 10 chirps.  Fifteen seconds passed once again and this time it was eight chirps.  The next time it was 6 chirps.  The next it was four chirps and then it was two chirps.  Then fifteen seconds elapsed and the bird flew away to enjoy its day on the California Coast.  I spent about a minute more in my meditation and came forward to ponder what had just happened.

                I have no way of comprehending or understanding what that was all about. However, the whole experience of being in the presence of my bird friend and hearing the discipline that he/she had demonstrated in going through the entire “Chirp Mantra” was very powerful.  It might have been pure happenstance, but merely listening to the precise count from two to twelve and back down to two in all but perfect time intervals, gave me a deep sense of the Divine Order of the Universe.  I felt that the bird had bestowed a lesson upon me.  If this avian creature had the innate power and presence to perform and share a precise, intimate part of its Being with me, I surely had the presence within my mind and soul to put away any thoughts of lack of worth or unfair pain in my life and go forward with Joy and Purpose.

                From that point forward, Meditation became an integral part of my Daily Spiritual Practice.  Along with Affirmation and Prayer, I deeply knew that I had all of the tools in my chest to lovingly attack my life’s mission.  I am excellent, but I will only get better.  Ah…Life is good.