Affirmations

I remember the early morning stillness, before the jungle heat set in to bake the roads and rooftops, and my family were all still asleep. I would sit in the living room – or kneel on the rug – to read my Bible, journal, and pray. Every day. Then I would make breakfast for everyone: toast, scrambled eggs, hot chocolate or coffee. Yep, I was a super pious teen. Even though I cringe a bit now at how sanctimonious I must have been (I wrote a paper for a school speech contest on how The Simpsons was ruining society by promoting disrespect towards authority – good grief, I must have been insufferable!) I can also feel a fond compassion for that earnest girl, who for several weeks one year met the challenge of praying for two hours every day – believing so hard that this act would change the world. Who knows, maybe it did.

And there was plenty of public affirmation and reward for this piety; in my high school girls’ Sunday School class (yes, we were separated into sex-segregated groups starting in 9th grade) we earned points for doing our daily devotions (aka “quiet time,” or “quiet time with the Lord”) as well as memorizing Bible verses and I don’t know what else. I won a blue fluffy bunny! I was also named “Student of the Year” at my Christian school, 10th grade and 12th grade.

Now I get zero brownie points, no trophies or stuffed toys. So I’m relying on the intrinsic benefits of daily meditation and putting the phone away so I can get better sleep. It’s helping. Yesterday I was working myself into a tizzy over something I said to someone in an e-mail, imagining their reactions and raking myself over the coals for not being as forthright as I feel like I should have been, imagining this person’s conversations with other people who know us both, about me, of course, and all my errors and omissions – Slightly ridiculous, yes? I got into a weird spiral where I couldn’t tell if it was really my honest intuition pinging me a needed warning, or that self-loathing part of my brain that just lies to me all the time about how worthless I am.

But I was able to yank myself out of it with a breathing meditation (I’m using the Smiling Minds app because it was free), and it gave me the needed perspective. Yes, I should have been more forthright, but probably nobody is talking about me. It was a small thing and will probably remain a small thing. If it bothers the other person, then they’ll get back to me and we can move on from there.

Overall, I feel calmer, happier. Nothing like the dark well of angst of this past summer. And I’ve been making myself daily affirmation slides, combining affirmations with photos I’ve taken. Here are a few to start your day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And this quote from Songs of Kabir:

Listen carefully,

Neither the Vedas Nor the Qur’an

Will teach you this:

Put the bit in its mouth,

The saddle on its back,

Your foot in the stirrup

And ride your wild runaway mind

All the way to heaven.

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