This month we will kick start our adventures by exploring the topics of Prayer and Faith, moving beyond any obvious associations with religion and traditional beliefs about ‘God’ (unless that is meaningful for you). The questions, rituals and practices offered this month are to support us all to move beyond our habitual thinking and beliefs, and to delve a little deeper. My hope for this month is to encourage and inspire you all to try out new ways to pray, whilst noticing any subtle changes this may bring into your life. Perhaps even (re)igniting the embers of your own faith. Consistency is key, so do commit and make sure you find ways to hold yourself accountable. I encourage you to stay open and curious as this month’s journey within unfolds. So let’s begin…
Personal enquiry is a personal and spiritual development tool to support people in enhancing their understanding of the human condition and shedding light on theirs and others psyche. In questioning our habitual thoughts, feelings, reactions, judgements, and behaviours, we can begin to move beyond our ego led living and drop into the deeper dimensions of Life. All the spiritual traditions include periods of quiet contemplation and reflection in some form. Specific time set aside in silence and solitude to meditate on the chosen subjects and related questions. For how can we possibly know and connect to a Higher Power, if we do not take the time to know and connect to ourselves? How can we begin to deepen, without questioning all that we ‘think’ we know?
These questions are starting points for you to deepen into Life. To spend time over the coming weeks and months contemplating each of the questions and how they relate to you and the wider world. For those of you who are returning DIL members I encourage you to add further questions of your own to go deeper still. The suggestion is that you spend at least 1-2 hours per week contemplating and journaling on these questions. This might be broken down into 10-20 minutes each weekday or in one chunk of time at the weekend. Whatever is most manageable for you.
Where possible return to the questions throughout the whole month to continue adding further insights and reflections as they arise. Take these questions with you on your walks, in the shower or bath, re-read them as you drink your coffee, cook, eat, clean or go about your day (keep your journal close by). Allow the questions to open, elevate and deepen you, and in turn impact how you choose to live your life.
• What beliefs do you hold about prayer and religion?
• What (if any), blocks/judgements/prejudices do you have about prayer and religion?
• Where do these come from?
• How do they affect your life and your spiritual connection currently?
• How might some of these block you in exploring your spiritual path?
• How will you move beyond them?
• What might it look like for you to live a ‘prayerful’ life?
• What would it be like to dialogue with Life?
• How will you embody your prayers?
• What steps can you take to live your life as one long prayer?
• How will you think, speak, move and act within a prayerful life?
• How will you pray to honour the world and your body as part of it?
• What blocks/judgements/prejudices do you hold about God?
• Where do your beliefs stem from?
• How might these block you on your spiritual path?
• How might you move beyond them?
• How would you define your own connection to a Higher Power?
• How might you cultivate an even deeper relationship with this dimension?
• Who do you trust most in your life?
• What would it mean for you to listen to and trust yourself, your body, all beings and the Earth completely?
• How might you do this and how might you feel?
• Can you trust yourself as much as you need to trust others?
• How will you behave as a trustworthy person?
• What does Faith mean to you?
• What might your life look and feel like if you could have total faith in Life itself?
• What stops you from believing this?
• How will you move beyond this?
Daily Prayer Practice:
The suggestion is for you to pray twice a day, both first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. Try to ensure you include the 3 core dimensions of prayer – gratitude, celebration & requests. If you already have your own prayer practice, then feel free to continue with that.
Gratitude, Celebration & Requests
The main thing is that we all commit to pray consistently every day.
A Simple Prayer example:
- • Give thanks for the abundance in your life. Be specific and detailed.
- • Spend time in celebration and wonder of Life. Be specific and detailed.
- • Send love and blessings and any requests for those in the world in need of your prayers…
‘May they be safe, May they be well, May they find peace, May they feel loved.’
‘Ritual’ – a definition: A ceremonial act regularly repeated in a set order.
‘Altar’ – a definition: A table or place of focus to worship and draw spiritual strength.
Create a small altar in your home/garden where you can go to pray. Decorate the altar with small beautiful objects of meaning, pictures of loved ones or images of subjects/people you are praying for. A candle and matches. Decorations might include – flowers/leaves/shells/pebbles/plants/feathers. Each time you pray, light your candle and sit/kneel at your altar.
Word of the Week:
The suggestion is to have one word as your focus for each week of the month. As you encounter life moment by moment, allow this word to guide you in your thoughts, words, conversations, and choices. Take these words with you wherever you go. Write them on posts it’s to remind yourself. Add them to your altar, pop them into your pocket or purse and carry them with you. Allow them to guide you as you deepen into life.
Book of the Month:
Each month during our time together in community we will be reading a book related to the subjects of our enquiry for that month. The suggestion is that a different member of our community takes a turn each month to volunteer to organise an online book club (via Zoom), where those who wish to can also attend to share and discuss the book and its key messages.
The book of the month:
Help Thanks Wow – The 3 Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
Additional book recommendations for this month –
Seeking Wisdom by Julia Cameron
Intimate Conversations with the Divine by Caroline Myss
Service & Acts of Kindness:
Each month identify a specific way to be in service in some way in the world. The suggestion is to identify a person or cause that is important to you and then find a way to offer meaningful support. A minimum of 1 hour per month (ideally this needs to be on top of anything you already do). In addition, consciously find/create opportunities to be kind that involves an element of sacrifice on your part. (so not just giving money away as an example). Ideally a minimum of 1 act of conscious kindness per week, large or small. If you can remain anonymous, even better.
A Weekly Date with Wonder:
Once a week (or more if you can), for at least 30 minutes, head out by yourself with your eyes and heart wide open. Take a small notebook, pen, and camera if you wish. (turn phone on airplane mode if using the camera). Head to the woods, sea, park, a museum or simply sit and watch the world go by. Wherever calls to you. Imagine that you are seeing everything and everyone for either the first or last time. (This part is really important). Slowly and mindfully take in all that you notice – look up, down and all around, as if you are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling it all, for the very first or last time. Marvel and wonder at the minute details and miracle of it all. Notice the smells, sounds, colours, textures and sensations of the whole experience. Touch what you can. Reconnect with your Wonder & Awe. Give thanks. This too is a prayer.
Deepening into Life
Recommended music, listening and viewing
Each month we will offer 2 playlists to support you in your prayer practices and in living a ‘prayerful’ life. One is for those of you who wish to dance your prayers, activating and opening your heart to spread more Love and Joy in the world. The other is music for more meditative times, perhaps when you are journaling on your personal enquiry or to listen to before/after you pray. I encourage you to listen to both playlists completely at some point during the month.
Our returning DiL member, Lina Duncan has kindly put together two incredible new playlists to support us all in the this first month. I will be inviting other members of our community to put together playlists for us relating to the themes of each additional month.
• Soul Sunday – Anne Lamott speaking to Oprah on Soul Sunday
• Gregg Braden – The Science of Prayer – Youtube
• Finding Joe – Youtube
• Near death experience of Jeffrey Olsen – Youtube
Live Sessions & Document Downloads
Click the link here to watch the live session and download the session documents to assist you when working offline.