Sangha Sadhana

uttara_octrd1-203The word “Sangha” translates as community; tribe; a group of like-minded individuals. You know when you’ve found them. You feel safe; you feel welcome; framily. These are your friends, but not your acquaintances. These are the people who really have your back.

I feel like we’ve all been seeking our tribe more ardently the last few years. We are beings who crave community; and we live in a time when community is fragmented at best, and fractured at worst.

The word “Sadhana” means spiritual practice. The definition is fluid; it will not fit in a box. For some, it is a weekly visit to church. For some it is a daily meditation practice. For some it is a way of being and doing in the world, 24×7.

After the election many people have been asking “What can we do to help?” How do we help knit together our communities; help to heal the divisiveness and separation and unknowing and distrust? One of my dear friends decided to begin teaching English as a second language; I know others who have made financial donations to groups who are working towards lifting up those who have been left behind. But we cannot always do what we aspire to do to help; we have day jobs and families and less and less money it seems.

But I know a way to help.

It’s called meditation and it’s called prayer and if we do it together, as a collective – if we send out a heaping wave of help; I promise you – it matters.

My first experience with collective prayer occurred when my first child was born. Beautiful tiny human. All my life, I had wanted to be a mother. And here she was! Perfect and amazing! And at the very first check-up, four-weeks … the pediatrician listening to her heartbeat …. Wow, he was listening for a very long time.

Thorough is good, right?

He looks up and says he would like her to see a specialist. That there’s something a little unusual about her heartbeat. The nurse comes back in with an appointment slip for a cardiologist. And the appointment is for tomorrow.

I am thinking this is not good.

And it wasn’t good. Except it was. Yes; she had a hole in her heart; and another anomaly, too. But yet, it was a “simple” repair; as simple as open-heart surgery can be. Fifty years ago, she would have died.

And with my child barely a month old, these words, “open-heart surgery,” “easy repair,” and “keep her healthy” and “feed her on demand” were so scary and so hard.

At nine months she began losing weight. Little heart rotating so much blood through the hole that it was time to fix it. Found an amazing surgeon at Duke. Best doctors, great support, good insurance coverage. Every gift, every blessing, every bit of support.

It was still Hell on Earth.

We travel; rent a hotel room; prepare. At the time I had an amazing church community in Roanoke. My dear friend Suzanne coordinated a prayer vigil. From the minute we got up to prepare for the surgery (four-freaking am …) to the minute she came out, my friend had people committed to pray for us in half-hour segments.

I still remember the alarm going off; so little, ragged sleep; the dry-mouth, the hollow stomach. The crying, hungry, sleepy baby. I wasn’t allowed to feed her; how do you explain to the nine-month-old that no, no nursing, no milk – cause they need to crack your sternum open and … yeah.

But I also remember the feeling that someone was with me. Someone, somewhere, was on their knees praying for me and for her.

I will never forget the power of that feeling.

And throughout the day; from the preliminary blood work; from the moment when she fell asleep in my arms and they allowed me to bring her into the operating room and set her on the table. So much machinery. So damn cold in that room. And a man wearing scrubs and preparing equipment and I lay her down on that metal slab and say to him “please, take care of my baby.” And I walk out and sob into my open palms. Through it all, someone was holding me who wasn’t there at the hospital. The support felt so real and huge and it meant the absolute world. I could feel it. Every minute.

From then on, I became the person who organized prayer vigils. For so many people and so many traumas.

I left that spiritual community for many reasons. And this past Summer, the concept of the power of group prayer came up for me again. When things were feeling so chaotic; when it felt like everyone was talking and NO ONE was doing, I organized a prayer vigil for peace. Just a simple post on Facebook to organize. And it BLEW UP. I was getting calls and texts and messages and in the shortest possible period of time, I had a huge group of 50+ humans committing to 15 to 30 minute slots of praying for peace.

And it was palpable. That whole day felt so amazing. We were committed. We were together. We felt connected.

SO.

All this is to ask you to commit to a daily practice of prayer and meditation. For our people. For our Country. For everyone on the planet.

Maybe; MAYBE. If we commit to a practice and we are all sending out that vibration, we can create a shift. We can weave the fabric of our humanity together.
We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Please consider this ten-minute practice daily. Or at least occasionally. Feel free to amend, edit, and make it your own. This is very simple. If you want a more detailed practice, then email me, please – Jill@UttaraYogaStudio.com.

And I commit to you; to sit on my meditation cushion; or maybe even stand in the shower; or relax on my couch with a cup of coffee and my eyes closed; and let my mind move through this practice and send out this vibration. It doesn’t have to be perfect or rigid. It just needs to … be.

1. Begin, comfortable seated position; eyes closed; observe your breath.
2. Say any type of prayer or invocation; AUM is always beautiful.
3. Observe your breath; each breath alone is a sacred meditation; sit in silence and relax your body, your face, your tongue, and watch your breath.
4. Imagine white light coming down from the Heavens above and saturating your body; then envision white-light roots coming down from your body and connecting to the Earth. Light flowing from above; connecting through you; and sinking into the planet.
5. Send white light to spread throughout the planet and then throughout the solar system and then throughout the Universe.
6. See a symbol that represents our country; whether it is the flag or an outline of the country on a map … whatever that is for you ….
7. Wrap that symbol in bright, golden-white light.
8. Cultivate the feeling of compassion; of acceptance; of love.
9. Then see you … YOU … sitting in front of you.
10. Wrap YOU in the same light and feel the same compassion. Healing you heals everyone. Never forget, we are connected; you and me.
11. Take a moment to send light to wrap around anyone you know is struggling; don’t send it straight at them, wrap it around them and allow them to choose to receive or reject. Do not interfere with their soul’s purpose.
12. End with a moment of silent listening; and then a moment of petition or prayer.
13. Close with chant, a prayer, whatever feels like will bring the practice to completion.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t have to be ANYTHING really. It’s your intention that matters; your intention is more important than the action.

Shanti,

Jill

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