Posts Tagged ‘rumination’

For me prayer is when we talk to God or a higher power and meditation is when we shut up and listen!

There are all kinds of prayers and ways to meditate that are available to us. Below is a simple list of some of the most common ones:

Affirmation/affirmative: A good example of this is to recite “I am open and receptive to receive my good in health, wealth, and happiness today and every day to do the work I have come here to do.” This type of “prayer/affirmation” can help your conscious mind direct to you all the good that the universe has in store for you.
Centering: Silent prayer that helps us open ourselves to receive by quieting our minds, body, and spirits.
Contemplative: Focusing on an idea, scripture, quotation, sutra, poem or words of wisdom.
Intercession: Praying for help for others i.e. healing or prosperity for a friend in need.
Lectio Divina: reading, reflecting, responding, and resting on a sutra, scripture, or spiritual reading.
Meditation/sitting: Sitting quietly while focusing on your breath, a word, or counting 1 on the in breath and 2 on the out breath to quiet and center your rambling/monkey mind and become one with all that is.
Thanksgiving: A simple prayer of giving thanks often done before a meal or after a challenge has been overcome such as an illness, accident, or having passed your final exam in school.

Today I want to focus on the affirmation since I have had several requests from friends and students for prayers of prosperity, jobs, healing, and more. Affirmative prayers keep us in a positive mood with a wonderful outlook for the future. They help to keep us from ruminating on the negative, fearful, or harmful thoughts that seem to invade our minds in times of need.

Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity, said that prayers have weight and measure and ultimately energy. All words are prayers in some way. In Genesis 1:3 we read: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” The first demonstration of the power of the word! What words are you saying from the time you awake to the time you go to sleep? Are they words of illness, lack, limitation, frustration, and fear? Or are they words of affirmation, health, healing, prosperity, opportunity, love, and compassion. The universe does not care which you choose it will bring you whatever you think and pray for!

When times are tough, and they will be in life, center your prayers on positive affirmations and your mediation times on sitting in the silence to help quiet down that monkey mind and allow your body, mind, and spirit to rest. Give yourself a “meditation break” instead of a “coffee break” which just fills you with caffeine and sugar and calories!

Each day it would be helpful to end it with this Buddhist prayer/chant:

Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost
Each of us should strive to awaken
Awaken, take heed do not squander your life.

In gassho,



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Light is also darkness, but do not move with it as darkness.
Darkness is light; do not see it as light.
Light and darkness are not one, not two,
Like the foot before and the food behind in walking

Again Shohaku Okamura describes the light and darkness thus in his book Living by Vow (2012): “Light and darkness are always together. We cannot understand our life through only one aspect (page 241).”[1]

Remember the line says, “Light and darkness are not one, not two, like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.” When we try to make this differentiation or discriminate between the two we give power and focus to one or the other.

Sekkei Harada in his beautiful book Unfathomable Depths (2014) writes:

“Nowadays, the word discrimination has a bad connotation, but discrimination against certain things or other people is not the sense meant here. Difference simply exists, so it is not possible to say that differences are truly good or bad, or to make comparisons. What this means is that in the face of the utter distinction of each of the myriad dharmas, all thoughts and illusions come apart and disappear (page 121).”[2]

As in life there are dark moments and light moments in juxtaposition on all planes: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological and we use our thoughts and actions to discriminate between them. And eventually they all “come apart and disappear.”

It is how we see these juxtapositions of life that make us who we are and make our lives what they are. We use discrimination to put life into neat columns of good and bad, light and dark, up and down. And that just makes life more complex because how do we know what is really good or bad since the word itself holds no power or life.

If someone brings you a delicious cake for your birthday and you enjoy a piece or two that is good! If you eat the entire cake yourself and it makes you sick, that is bad. So is the word “cake” inherently good or bad? Who’s to say? When we use our power of “discrimination” which column would we put the cake in?

If I ruminate over that situation long enough I might just decide to make a change for the better (never eat a whole cake again by myself). Does that make the word “ruminate” bad or good? Did the word have weight and measure and life? If we used our power of “discrimination” here which column would we put the word “cake” in now: good or bad?

Harada again writes some powerful ideas:

“When we use the words “good” or “bad,” we tend to think that there actually is something “good” or something “bad.” But there is no difference with regard to things themselves. We use words to discriminate, but within things themselves, there is neither good nor bad, like nor dislike, beautiful nor ugly. These judgments are only within our minds. Things themselves do not change (page 167).”[3]

That is not to say that we need to totally get rid of “discrimination” from our lives that could be dangerous as well. If we can’t discriminate between good food and spoiled food we could get very sick. If we can’t discriminate between healthy relationships and unhealthy ones we could be in trouble as well. And so…we have “light and darkness” not one and not two.

Okamura goes on to write:

“[Shitou] He shows us that differentiation between darkness and light is just another kind of discrimination. He discriminates between these two and then integrates them. This is a very practical wisdom, free from both discrimination and nondiscrimination. It is a more natural function of our life (page 244)”[4]

It is not easy to decipher these four lines. So I recommend that you contemplate them and discover how and what they mean to you and how they appear in your life.

Our lives are so much better when we give up our demands and preferences and our ideas of good and bad and just live in the moment fully and lovingly and let go of our addictions and our grasping and groping at life as we try desperately to keep it from slipping away.

In gassho,



[1] Okumura, S. (2012) Living by Vow, A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts. Wisdom Publications: Somerville, MA

[2] Harada, S. (2014) Unfathomable Depths Drawing Wisdom for Today from a Classical Zen Poem. Wisdom Publications: Somerville, MA

[3] Ibid.

[4] Okumura, S. (2012) Living by Vow, A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts. Wisdom Publications: Somerville, MA

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