I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

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Sometimes I help friends and clients create a spiritual practice, during which I will explain every juicy nugget I’ve gathered over the last thirty years; the Spiritual, philosophical, and practical nuts and bolts, and the habits it demands. All in all this can take me about five minutes. Maybe I’m being a bit hard on myself. Let’s say fifteen and call it a day.

I begin with what is perhaps an unpopular belief, one that is the foundation of almost all wisdom traditions; that there is nothing one can buy, achieve, own, rent, vacation to, or decorate that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of real lasting fulfillment and connection to something greater; that there is no other person – not a lover, partner, friend, nor child on this planet that can continuously fill us up.

The good news is a Spiritual practice, like people, can come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Whether this means praying, meditating, dancing, hiking, cooking, surfing, drumming, pausing, or refraining from gossip, it can give you almost everything that you have been searching for: peace, meaning, deep connection, and the discipline of learning how to hang out with beauty on a regular basis. It’s the real deal.

However, the bad news is, you have to make time and effort to create this. The lasting commitment is the tricky part.  You start right where you are. But maybe just add a few small rituals.

It’s worth every minute.

You have to be willing to look at and reduce (even if just a little) the manic forms of connectivity – the epidemic that has swept over much of humankind: cell phone, email, texting, Twitter, and Facebook; and the more recent Instagram; and what’s the one that disappears moments after you send the message?

I’m sure some of you are wishing this would disappear.

There’s a story that comes from India of a beggar who sits outside a temple, begging for just enough every day to keep body and soul alive, until the temple elders convince him to move across the street and sit under a tree. He lives years and years as a beggar, living on nothing, until he dies. The temple elders decide to bury him beneath his cherished tree, where, after shoveling away a couple of feet of earth, they find a stash of gold coins that he has unknowingly sat on for all of those years.

I love this story because we all have these golden coins – maybe not in our Citibank account, but rather in the Spiritual bank account of presence, creativity, and the often forgotten well of being. A Spiritual practice helps us to unearth our coins, the ones buried so deep we don’t even know they’re there. Oh, yeah, you say? And where would those gold coins be?

This is what I say: first of all, in order to find our nuggets we have to pay close attention. They will not be found watching the endless stream of news every day, so don’t fool yourself into thinking this keeps you informed. Otherwise, you are going to be overloaded with negativity, swimming in the muck of what’s wrong, rather than what’s right.

Instead, you could commit to sitting quietly and following your breath for fifteen minutes a day, which, over the course of a year is five thousand forty minutes. Significant. If I were a betting woman, I would count on the minutes increasing; say after a few months when you begin to experience the deep calm that this practice provides. I promise this fifteen-minute following-your-breath ritual will be substantial. Perhaps even the single biggest change you could make in a lifetime.

I tell people there are so many reasons not to meditate and only one reason to do so: your peace increases tenfold. A hundred fold. A thousand fold. Who doesn’t want greater peace?

So, when the rug is pulled out from you…when one of your peeps, who you can’t imagine living without, dies, or a close friend with two small children under the age of six loses his wife to cancer, or you have surgery and you’re bedridden, or your lifelong soul sister friend can no longer remember you because her mind is going, or you’re in a car accident and you break your ribs, or your daughter gets horrific migraines that take her down into the screaming underworld, or the water pipes burst in your walls and for the next nine months your home is under insane chaos… (a lot of or’s); you will have a place to turn; inward. When friends and loved ones, or your body or bank account can no longer serve as a strong enough container of support, something greater can hold you.

I understand all too well the countless reasons that get in the way. I really do. I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I’m pretty convinced that deep inner peace is not overrated and well worth the withdrawal from staring at all sorts of screens.

Is there a patch of land somewhere nearby, a neighborhood park you can walk to, or a comfortable pillow you can sit on? If so, what will you be willing to give up in order to learn how “to be”? Time is not free – that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for.

For a time, my entire Spiritual practice was a single Hawaiian prayer known as Ho’oponopono. It actually takes no time at all and it goes like this: I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. This four-sentence prayer moves emotional mountains. It helps me to move my heart from closed to open, and to forgive others (even an ex sister in law, which takes about an infinite amount of I love you’s in order not to continue the pattern of hate in the family). You can say the whole prayer, or use any portion of it at any time. And the crazy thing? If you practice this a lot, well… you could always try it and see for yourself.

This thing called Spiritual practice doesn’t have to be separate from your daily life. You could arrange to come in contact with persons who trigger you, or blame you, or who enter into unreasonable arguments with you. I’m sure this will be easy enough to find. I have a hunch that you could even make it happen by the end of the day. Do what it takes to learn the prayers that allow you to tolerate the inevitable triggers coming from your husband or wife or children or boss or the driver in the next lane, without being inwardly hooked or without screaming back. I’m practicing right this moment as my husband’s last words when he left the house this morning were, “I don’t appreciate your tone.”

I’m sorry. 

God, give me the wherewithal and the presence to help me pause, to help me keep my big mouth shut. To not carry on blaming others, especially my daughter or my husband, or my mother, or the dog. And when I do, to be able to be fully accountable.

Please forgive me.

I’ll let you in on a secret, one that is a complete change of perspective. Rather than striving for personal happiness, try to make others happy. This realization is the gold medal of Spiritual practice. In being of Spiritual, mental, and material service to others, you can find your own needs fulfilled. If you could forget your self in service to others, just fifteen short minutes of this a day, you will find that without seeking it, your own cup of happiness will be full. Or fuller. Oh the gratitude that is available when you begin to live in this way.

Thank you, thank you.

To be accomplished takes practice. So does calming the inner waters of worry, and creating peace. The Spiritual heavyweights say every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight with all your might to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this day, this hour, this moment.

People ask me how do you know if this Spiritual practice thing is working? What are the benefits? If you commit to just one of these fifteen minute practices, over time you become more generous, which is the ultimate healing isn’t it? Or more patient, which is definitely a close second. You will see that your world becomes bigger and juicier and tenderer. And you will probably feel ever so slightly kinder to yourself. Your mind will begin to feel greater calm and you will know more love. This is how you tell.

I love you. 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Five minutes is all it takes to lay it out, but it takes a lifetime to realize. Thank you for showing us how to be works in progress, xo

  2. Beautiful Carrie!!

  3. Annie Gabbert says:

    thank you so much for this carrie….so beautiful and a perfect read for me today!

  4. Gorgeous. You walk your talk in every way. I am so blessed to walk side by side with you in this life, and beyond.

  5. Tracy Erickson says:

    Thank you carrie!!
    I really appreciate this posting. Love, Tracy

  6. With so many words in our world, how magnificent that you use them to communicate these precious and essential truths. Cliche or not, my love for this woman grows, deepens and softens as time and life passes. I love you, I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you!

  7. MELISSA MARX says:

    soooo much to think about again.. I remember always telling you " you must write"
    hmmmm. thinking I was on to something!

  8. Lori Kleiman says:

    The depth and breadth of your wisdom is beautiful. You inspire me, lift me, and remind me to bring it back to what is most important. Thank you Carrie! xo

  9. Karen Adams says:

    Carrie,
    This is beautiful, living life by this prayer would make life wonderful !
    Thank you so much for sharing your love and profound insights.

  10. catherine says:

    Thank you so much. I was led here after my commitment to not seek distraction on Facebook. I heard your voice say, "what connects you to you". And I thought, " I have been meaning to read some of Carrie's posts". Well here I am and thank you! What a pay off. I am moved to recommit to my spiritual practice. 15 minutes a day here I come.

    Thanks!
    Catherine

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