Adrienne's work and teachings have been a great
inspiration to me! In August of 1998, about four months after my
father passed away, I read about one of Carol's
workshops in a Learning Annex catalog and
synchronistically found her book on a bookshelf at the
bookstore. The themes of her teachings were
familiar and comforting, as they confirmed the thoughts
and ideas my father had shared with me shortly before
his passing. Her books and workshops ignited my
spiritual curiosity, setting me on my soulful life path,
which led to the very creation of
SoulfulLiving.com! Carol's participation has been
an integral part of SoulfulLiving.com, at its soul
level! Thank you, Carol, with all my heart!
~Valerie, Founder and Soul, SoulfulLiving.com
How We Pray
What are you praying for? World peace? A relationship? An
affordable apartment? What happens when you don’t see any
results in a "reasonable" amount of time?
A wonderful new book, The
Way We Pray, Prayer Practices from Around the World
helps readers get in touch with the enormous diversity of
communications with divine spirit Author, Maggie Oman Shannon
says working on her first book, Prayers for Healing (Conari
Press, 1997) created a strong fascination in her with this
profound and prevalent human practice. Since then, she says,
she has greatly expanded her concept of what prayer is.
"I was interested in how, as human beings, we experience
the divine through our five senses," says Maggie.
"Angeles Arrien [author of The Four-Fold Way and The
Nine Muses and who is a cultural anthropologist], says
that the cross-cultural definition of prayer is setting sacred
intention. This helped me see prayer forms as being whatever
enables someone to set a sacred intention."
When I asked her if she feels sacred intention simply means
asking for something you want and expecting it to be given,
Maggie was adamant that the intention behind prayer was much
greater than that. "To me sacred intention is not simply
defined as asking for something you want. Many people, for
example, have said to me, ‘I’ve been praying for peace and
it hasn’t happened.’ When we pray but see no response,
there is an implication that there must be something wrong
with us, our methods, or our connection to God. First of all,
I’m not sure we can always immediately recognize an answer
to our prayers. We may receive exactly what is needed, but not
have the wisdom to see that yet. I believe that the practice
of prayer is an intention to dwell in the sacred and to honor
the sacred. Prayer helps us to see our lives as sacred.
"I get concerned that people think of prayer as a
cosmic gumball machine," continued Maggie, "where
you put in your prayer and hope to get out the prize. My
response to a woman who said she had been praying for peace
was that maybe the purpose of prayer is so that we can be
changed. Through prayer, we can gain courage, or clarity, or
conviction about what we can do to work for peace. I
would not want someone to read my book and only see fifty ways
to have a warm, comfortable experience with the Divine. I
think prayer is a beginning, not the end of action.
"There are many amazing studies that show that prayer
is a force that can literally change or influence a situation.
But we can’t control when and how our prayers are going to
work. What we can do is focus on what actions we can take as
an individual in the world. I believe we are meant to come out
of prayer with a commitment to action." Maggie believes
that by consciously placing ourselves in the presence of the
Divine, we are elevated and deepened. From that state, we
often receive clarity about the next steps we need to take.
Our responsibility is to act on those things that we receive
The Way We Pray describes an abundance of practices
from affirmations to master-mind groups to the use of prayer
beads, bowls, flags and other rituals such as sweat lodges.
Prayer is more a state of mind than a protocol. Maggie
remembers, "One person told me about being deeply moved
while sitting in silence in a grove of trees. At the time, he
didn’t consider that moment as a spiritual experience
because it didn’t take place in a church. However, when this
idea was pointed out to him, he expressed an amazement and a
joy that gave him the freedom to continue to spend time in
nature or to visualize a favorite natural setting during his
workday even when he couldn’t get away. Expanding his sense
of the sacred opened up a new meaning to being in nature and
how he could tap into that source.
Maggie says that writing her book opened up a deeper, wider
reverence in herself. "I started with an initial list of
ninety-eight practices and whittled it down to fifty. I had
had personal experience with many of them, but not all.
Ikebana, for example, the Japanese art of flower-arrangement
was new to me. Now when I place flowers on a table or on my
altar, I am much more conscious of their beauty and their
message. Gardenias floating in water remind me of how we can
rest effortlessly in the presence of God."
Maggie’s focus on writing, research, and the sacred is an
unfolding process. "I was surprised to find out,"
she says, "that I had started files on a lot of these
practices years before. When I was writing the book, I would
be in a group of people and someone might mention a practice
like the God Box. It felt like things were happening to
support the project. I think it’s very important to share
our understandings and experience of the sacred with others.
When someone says, ‘Lets’ pray about it’ that could mean
a lot of different things. Having a wider range of
possibilities helps create more and more openings. I’ve
noticed that when people are willing to talk about the divine,
the conversational level deepens very quickly. Everyone feels
Prayer is one way to make us more mindful. Simple acts take
on more meaning. By connecting with the everyday divinity in
front of us, we begin to see layers of meaning or purpose that
we don’t always appreciate because we get so busy. Praying
is a way of letting our intuition give us answers or clues
even when our head is not sure of what to do. However, we need
to be committed to not only listen in stillness, but to act on
we know. When we don’t act on what we know is right, we tend
to feel uneasy, depressed, or even ill.
One of my favorite morsels of wisdom in The Way We Pray,
is the chapter on Japanese haiku poetry. In order to write
this ultra-concise poetry, one must bring complete attention
to what is sacred and potent. Maggie quotes Basho, one of
Japan’s most noted haiku artists, who says, " Your
poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have
become one—when you have plunged deep enough into the object
to see something like a hidden glimmering there."
Frequently when counseling clients searching for satisfying
and prosperous work, I notice that all too often we tend to
think our career is going to bring us all the
satisfaction we otherwise might lack in intimate relationships
or the fulfillment of personal goals. I wonder how we might
find the satisfaction we seek by simply tuning into what is
right in front of us? Maggie quotes a professor of
mathematics, John deValcourt, who began to write haiku poetry
on his son’s seventeenth birthday. "They came out of
meditation," John explains. "I would get up very
early in the morning, sit silently, and they would just
emerge. Some thought or insight would come into my mind, and I
would write about it." John gave a good friend who was
diagnosed with HIV seven poems which reminds us that
everything is appropriate to write about.
Maggie’s suggestions are:
- Try incorporating writing haiku into the time of day that
works best for you—early morning, during a quiet lunch
break, before you go to bed. Sit quietly, and spend a few
minutes simply breathing. When a thought, insight, image, or
memory comes to you, pick up your pen and jot down the essence
of it. Then, begin to craft your words into the haiku form of
your choice, focusing on the number of syllables in each line
(five/seven/five or three/five/three). Experiment, and stay
with the format and content that helps you to best express
that ‘hidden glimmering.’
Maggie Oman Shannon reminds us that prayer can be a place
where we rest, feel our feelings, and a place where we can
transform ourselves. "More and more I believe that
service or outreach is a natural extension of prayer."
Why share a Prayer for Peace here at SoulfulLiving.com and
prepare the ground for the seeds of peaceful actions to take
root and flower? Namaste.
To contact author, spiritual director, and life purpose
coach Maggie Oman Shannon visit her website at: www.thenewstory.com,
email her at Maggie@newstory.com,
or call (415) 333-6424.
Notice to readers: I am looking for personal
- Health and Life Purpose. Have you experienced improved
health related to aligning with your life purpose or spiritual
development? Please email me at email@example.com:
Subject: Health and Life Purpose.
- Finding A Good Man: Are you a single woman between
forty and sixty-five looking for the right partner? I will
send you a questionnaire if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject: A Good Man.
Carol Adrienne, Ph.D., is an
internationally-known workshop facilitator and author whose
books have been translated into over fifteen languages. Her
books include The Purpose of Your Life: Finding Your Place
in the World Using Synchronicity, Intuition, and Uncommon
Sense; Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life, and The
Numerology Kit. She also co-authored with James Redfield, The
Celestine Prophecy: An Experiential Guide and The Tenth
Insight: Holding the Vision--An Experiential Guide.
Here to Learn More About Carol Adrienne
Read Carol's Past Columns
Carol at her Website:
of Carol's Book Titles: