One of the reasons I love prayer is because it is an antidote to guilt and blame. If I am unhappy with the way I have acted or have been treated, instead of stewing in self-recrimination, or harboring ill will toward someone else, prayer gives me a way out. I bring my painful feelings out into the open and say, ‘I have done wrong,’ or ‘I have been wronged.’ And then I ask for a vaster view—one that contains within it all the forgiveness I need in order to move forward.
– Elizabeth Lesser from “The Spiritual Adventurer’s Guide to Prayer”
I had a rough day at work. Day two of a brand new part-time job. You’d think I’d be breezing through. But I am very sensitive, and I have anxiety in new group situations. Today, there were conflicts within the team that left me emotionally rattled. I won’t get into the details. I think the paragraph above says enough.
Yoga’s Eight Limbs offer tools for every kind of rattling one could imagine. Their goal is to dissolve unrest and replace it with serenity.
Today’s unrest churned a pit of both guilt and blame in my stomach. In the moment, the Eight Limbs were a distant solution. In the moment, the only tool I remembered was GET OUT. This is old behavior, left over from growing up in an emotionally hostile and physically violent household. When things got rough, I got out. These days those memories and reactions can be triggered by family like situations that feel hostile. But at work today I didn’t leave – not for good. I detached from the situation, confided in someone, saw a new POV for the situation, then took a lunch break.
When I got home this evening, I was pooped. Guilt and blame still rumbled in my tummy. I fell asleep sitting upright in a chair. When I awoke from this little nap, I checked e-mail and found the latest eNews blast from the Omega Institute, which includes the above-quoted article by Elizabeth Lesser. (http://www.eomega.org/omega/enews/article/?content=CON&source=ENEWS.OM.LAND)
So I guess I did use a yoga tool in this situation – the Niyama (Limb #2) suggest the study of spiritual texts toward a goal of self-purification. In this case, Elizabeth Lesser’s inter-faith offerings about prayer brought serenity for my emotion-crowded mind (and ease for my rumbling tummy). As she suggests in her article, I know that my solution is to pray.
Today I did wrong; as well, I felt wronged. I pray for a vaster view. I pray for complete and absolute forgiveness for myself and others. And I pray to move forward in the spirit of yoga – with a loving and tranquil heart and mind.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.