By G. A. Finch
This article is the third, in a series of four, concerning habits that contribute to resilience. This habit maybe a little tricky for those who may not be spiritual or who are atheists. You do not need to be either spiritual or atheistic. You can be contemplative and reap the same calming, perspective-giving benefit.
For me, I pray every day. I meditate as the spirit moves me or convenience presents itself.
I remember reading years ago some Sigmund Freud’s writings and his observation that one of his male patients could benefit psychologically from practicing his religion and deepening his religious faith. Freud’s observation always struck me as true, and when I started doing just that many years later, I found it to be true in fact for me personally. I am not as religious as I could be, but I try to adhere to my religion as much as possible and I seek spirituality.
I am Roman Catholic and I say a prayer of my own authorship as well as the standard “Our Father” and “Hail Mary”. I try to pray twice a day in the morning and at night. Invariably, I wake up in the middle of night and that is when I usually meditate. Sometimes I meditate while jogging, sometimes while driving, sometimes while riding my commuter train, and sometimes while at work. My meditation is breath focused or sometimes reciting a mantra; the idea is to empty my brain of noise and runaway, random thoughts. During the day, I try to have a few minutes of just being still and silent. I do that most often in my big leather club chair in our master bed room.
Now there are many studies and research that substantiate the health effects of relaxation methods. No less august medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine have corroborated the healthful benefits of meditation to relieve stress, ameliorate pain and combat disease.
I have found that these practices have restorative effects and gird me for whatever challenges that may arise during a particular day. I have observed that my friends who are devout Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or Christians or serious meditators seem, on average, to have calmer temperaments and more equanimity than others.
Spiritual prayers or meditative practices contribute to a state of being that can be capsulized in one word: “calm.” Is there a better state in which to live?
As the Dalai Lama reminds us, “If you are calm, even your enemy cannot disturb you.”
Are you stressed out? Burned out? Is your resilience down? Prayer and/or meditation may help to provide the antidote you need.