Meditation and a Prayer for Healing

This is an edited and shortened version of a post on meditation I did some time ago. The prayer at the end remains important to me, so I thought I’d put it up again. I hope it makes some sense to you.

Here are a few journal excerpts from many years ago about early experience with meditation. From these first attempts I found a method that has helped blunt the deep stress and anxiety that accompany depression. Sometimes it can even bring me out of a deep downswing.

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Today I tried meditating while getting one of my periodic bone scans, follow-up to the cancer diagnosis. This is the second one, and the first only showed the widespread spots of arthritis that one day will give me a lot more pain than they do now. To do the scan I have to lie down on a narrow gurney and be absolutely still while this big machine moves slowly over my whole body, just an inch or so above me.

Meditating during the scan helped the time pass more quickly. It also distracted me from the fear of the machine’s humming invasion that recorded every inch of my body’s deepest structure. I couldn’t help but think of death while this was happening, and even the narrow gurney reminded me of how small a body gets when the life is gone. I strained to hold still since there was nothing to rest my arms on, but I finally figured out that I could keep my hands from slipping off the cold side bars by tucking the thumbs just under my hips.

I closed my eyes and meditated on the things I was worried about and feared. As I looked them over in this way, those fears felt more distant and lost their urgency. They were more like brief flashes than stabbing realities. After the scan, I felt a peacefulness that made it easier to hear whatever the results might be.

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It’s hard to imagine, but I’ve been feeling emotion with detachment. How can you feel something and be separate from the feeling at the same time? Meditation seems to bring me into the midst of the experience, the emotion, but in a strange way. I’m moving around inside it, taking its measure, observing rather than feeling overwhelmed. Even when surrounded by a powerful force of fear or anger, the experience is contained – I’m with it rather than engulfed by it.

I am not sure I can or even want to maintain that detachment as the norm, but for brief periods it is helping me see how I put my life and reactions together. I am always amazed at how much time I spend tearing myself down, and in meditating I can watch myself doing this, seeing how I lie down under fear, for example, as if under a blanket. So far, I haven’t been able to keep meditating in the midst of severe depression, much less use it as a remedy. I wonder if it will be possible one day to meditate during the lowest of lows.

………….

Lately I have been meditating irregularly even though it has become a crucial centering activity. I can usually get into it by counting breaths, feeling each inhalation, counting on the outflow of air. To start with, I often get distracted and lose count, but eventually I can clear my mind to keep my attention on the breathing. Even that starting exercise, though, becomes impossible to do when I’m deeply depressed – that’s the trouble with depression. When it really takes over, all the defenses I have disappear. I forget all about them, as if I had never known what they were.

………….

When we lived in northern New Mexico, I’d go out jogging through the arroyos and sometimes up into the foothills. As I ran, I often repeated a prayer that helped me meditate. It developed over time, starting with a few lines I’d learned from Lakota ceremonies. Out of respect for those traditions, which are not mine, I stopped using those phrases and adapted the ideas to my own experience and beliefs. I finally wrote it down in this form:

I pray for all I am related to throughout the world

for I am a part of all life

now, through the past and into future time.

I pray for the earth, surrounded by the great directions,

the eastern white light of the new day

the yellow warmth of the south

the west’s returning red

the sacred night of the north

and the rooted earth below me

the flowing sky above

and here the center of the world,

all embraced by the greatest spirit of God.

I pray for all life and living spirit

I pray for the creatures of the earth,

for the winged beings and the sea swimmers

for the crawling creatures and for those that run

and for the beings that stand upright on the land

I pray for the flowing waters, the surging mountains

for the open plains and bounded valleys,

for the seas and the oceans of air we breathe.

I pray for my family and the love flowing through us

I pray for the friends I have known,

for all the communities I am a part of

and for the nations of the world,

that peace may become their way of life.

I pray for humankind.

I pray for forgiveness from those I have hurt

and pray I may forgive those who have caused me pain.

I pray that a growing love may fill me to overflowing

through the enduring grace of God.

I pray for all I am related to throughout the world,

for I am a part of all life

now, through the past and into future time.

Some Rights Reserved by nds808v at Flickr

5 Responses to “Meditation and a Prayer for Healing”

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  1. Anna Houck says:

    Hello! I just want to know if meditation a form of prayer? Thanks!(-:

  2. ClinicallyClueless says:

    For me meditation, prayer and mindfulness are very similar in nature. My purpose is to separate myself, so that I can actually know and feel who I am in the moment. So, I understand the “detached” feeling. But, it is good to remain aware of it as well. It can teach us, heal us and make us more aware of ourselves. Research is showing that these activities do change the neurology of the brain. Other research is showing that intercessory prayer does work. Interesting…

    • John says:

      “Separate myself” is a good way to put it, even while the two types of awareness stay connected. It’s good to have the neurological effects identified. For people so skeptical of anything at all spiritual, it makes this more acceptable to take seriously. Doesn’t help me very much, though. The mind’s interpretation and link to feeling is what I look at – actually research is also looking at that much more complicated subject.

      John

  3. Thank you for sharing this and especially your amazing poem.

    I agree with your thoughts on meditation. I had used meditation intermittently for many years, but after suffering a health scare 12 months ago, daily meditation helped me heal my body and my spirit

    • John says:

      Thank you, Brenda –

      Although I didn’t start practicing mediation until later, my own experience with cancer years ago got me looking into all sorts of potential treatments. I read Moyers’ Healing and the Mind, and that book and TV series led me to Jon Kabat Zinn’s work, the center that Michael Lerner runs and Rachel Naomi Remen. I became interested in the role of meditation in healing – there’s nothing like cancer and the fear of dying to wake you up to a lot of new things!

      John

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