Reflection on Prayer, Meditation and their Alternatives

To say that I enjoy my moments of prayer and meditation is to understate their significance, and necessity, in my life. They are vital means of expression to the breath I breathe, the light I see, and the music I hear in the chambers of my inner being.

Yet, I can, if careless in handling my expressions, bind myself with the chains of dogmatism, taking an essential and leadening its nature, or rather, my interaction with its nature, by losing sight of the meaning, heart and soul of spiritual expression. These chains, reinforced by the myopia of formalism, giving rise to the lurking danger of hypocrisy, link me to a past of centrally mandated religious observation that renders rituals and sacraments dummy mines in the killing fields of religiosity.

Nonetheless, to my great benefit, I have always remained faithful to sincere devotion with a sincerity that serves as my ballast and salvation.

Throughout my life, matters involving the spirit have remained front and center of my waking life and of my secret realm of imagination. My inner world, at once my sanctuary and the preserve of my genesis, is enriched, or rather, I become attuned to its wealth, through my active seeking of and engagement with its treasures and secrets. As a result, the invisible becomes visible through the vehicles of hunger and self application.

However, to reiterate what has been shared, the visible can, through dogmatism, become the source and the substance of religious meaning and relevance to the negation of the spirit that liberates the soul that looks for her wisdom and meaning unwaveringly.

I believe there is more to gain from attaining deeper levels of intimacy with the realms of faith, imagination, dreams, and mystery than with the world we take in through our physical senses. It makes sense since the invisible world of spirit is our place of birth and of return, and, through this unbroken connection with the eternal, remains the substance of our being and breath.

Yet, this visible, temporal world into which we are born offers singular pleasures, joys, and wonders so spectacular that the eternal breath is suspended in blissful paralysis. They take our ‘breath away.’ These moments impel the eternal to bow to itself as expressed through the compelling beauty and power of Nature. Matter, infused with the spirit of life, houses echoes of eternal hymns and reflections of infinite possibilities of expression.

So, out of deep respect for the seen, not just the unseen, I’ve discovered more than adequate substitutes for prayer and meditation. Well, more like alternatives than substitutes. They don’t take the place of so much as they fulfill the same needs and purpose – to keep me consciously, lovingly and thankfully connected to the Eternal, to All.

These satisfying alternatives are in themselves prayers and meditations – sacraments of the heart and soul awakened to itself, to love and to All.

These are my own, experientially derived. They have crystallized to my awareness and understanding in the course of my life and by no means do I suggest that this list is complete, merely representational.

You can come up with your own.

Alternative expressions of prayer and meditation:
1) Making love.
2) Holding a baby.
3) Laughing.
4) Watching a sunrise.
5) Watching a sunset.
6) Watching a moonrise.
7) Holding hands in silence with a lover.
8) Smiling with a stranger.
9) Dancing.
10) Listening to the winds.
11) Hiking through Nature in silence.
12) Sitting in silence with the trees.
13) Hearing the first whispers of the ocean upon reaching her shore.
14) Feeling sand run through my fingers.
15) Digging my toes in mud.
16) Hearing the voice of a lover in the morning…and at midnight.
17) Hearing my Mother say, “I love you.”
18) Forgiving sincerely.
19) Confessing honestly.
20) Drinking good red wine.
21) Having a cold beer after a hike.
22) Eagerly awaiting the arrival of a lover.
23) Being in the company of a friend.
24) Enjoying the company of heart-centered, creative people.
25) Laughing at a really good joke.
26) Drumming.
27) Sipping tea.
28) Freeing myself from an old prejudice.
29) Freeing myself from a false belief.
30) Giving from the heart.
31) Receiving a birthday gift.
32) Writing poetry.
33) Creating art.
34) Sharing a moment with another.
35) Feeding pigeons.
36) Sparing the life of a mouse and watching it go free (out of the house).
37) Walking barefoot on the earth.
38) Feeling the breath of a lover.
39) Making a child laugh…really, really laugh.
40) Creating memories on rainy days.

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