Of all the spiritual practices, blessing is the most powerful, both in terms of what it does for us and for the gift it is to others. Blessing is a very important part of the daily religious practices of both Jews and Muslims, while in the West, blessing has been largely reserved for priests and ministers. Judaism uses many daily blessings, one I particularly like is called “The Shehechiyanu.” It is used to celebrate anything new:
“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.”
Each of us is blessed in many ways each day. Life itself is a blessing. Your next breath is a gift from God! God’s desire to bless humanity is the central aspect of His/Her covenant with us. Genesis tells us that the very first thing God did after creating Adam and Eve was to bless them” (Genesis 1:28).
We are surrounded by so many everyday miracles that we take them for granted. We forget (or don’t bother) to say “Thank you” for the miracle of life, for the magnificence of our bodies, the blessings of the air, sunlight, water, the earth, food, the animals, the flowers and especially, other people! Think about this for a minute: What would you pay to have tomorrow? How much for your next breath? The Creator gives us these and many other blessings without hesitation. Pierre Pradervand has been urging people to practice blessing for some time. He defines blessing as:
“. . . to wish, unconditionally and from the deepest chamber of your heart, unrestricted good for others and events; it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. He who is hallowed by your blessing is set aside, consecrated, holy, whole. To bless is to invoke divine care upon, to speak or think gratefully for, to confer happiness upon, although we ourselves are never the bestower but simply the joyful witnesses of life’s abundance.”
To bless is to acknowledge the omnipresent, universal beauty hidden from material eyes. A practice of active blessing is a great way to develop a centered awareness. It is also incredibly effective at freeing you from things like negativity, criticism and judgment. Pierre adds:
“When you bless all those you meet in their total happiness and true integrity, without the slightest concern for their appearance, expression, race, class, sex or any other label, when you wish them the very best from your innermost being, it is impossible for your heart not to expand. From a narrow cubicle, it will become a temple without walls.”
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Blessing also means understanding that we are not failures and that God recognizes and appreciates the difficulties of the process that was created for us. It also means that God rejoices in our learning and growth. Blessing is the recognition that irrespective of our problems, our cup really does overflow as David (a former shepherd) sang in the 23rd Psalm (a song of praise):
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Dr. S. M. Lockridge wrote an expansion of the 23rd Psalm that I think helps put things in a clearer perspective:
…I shall not want!
I shall not want for rest, for He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. I shall not want for refreshment, for he leadeth me beside still waters!
I shall not want for salvation, for he restoreth my soul!
I shall not want for guidance and comfort, for He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. . . etc.
I think you get the point.
The message of the Psalm is that The Creator’s greatest blessings come when we choose to live from the God Space. God would prefer that we follow His/Her teachings, but we have free will. We make life more difficult for ourselves when we do not, but that is our choice. God does not withhold blessings from us. God’s love is unconditional.
Compared to our normal day-to-day existence, nothing, absolutely nothing, comes close to the peace and joy of releasing the ego and living in harmony with all life in the God Space. There are not words to describe what that is like. Over a century ago, in 1901, Richard Bucke published a lifelong study into the experiences of people who had moved to the God Space. He collected everything he could about historical figures that had made the transition and then collected the writings and personal accounts of his contemporaries. The experiences, in every case of those who “crossed over” were incredibly virtually identical. The book is called Cosmic Consciousness, (and yes, that is where the phrase came from).
THE PRACTICE OF BLESSING
In the beginning, as with any spiritual practice, blessing requires some effort. You must want to do it. The practice is not all that complicated. You sit down, take a few minutes and actively bless the people you care about and then those you have issues with (or who have issues with you). When I began my blessing practice, I made a list of the people in my life. I would go through that list morning and evening, blessing everyone, pausing over people who seemed in need of special blessing that day.
You can get some Avery adhesive colored dots and put them on things you use frequently like your phone, in the car, on your computer, the mirror in the bathroom, etc. Every time you see a dot, stop and bless. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
In the morning, bless the day full of its unrevealed potential. Bless the sun for its gift of warmth and the air for its gift of life. Bless your food for the strength it gives you to do God’s work. As you come in contact with other people, bless them. The peace of your blessing will help them on their way, and lighten their burdens. Bless people’s journeys, be they joyful or difficult, because every path is perfect. Bless their health, their work, their joy and their eternal souls. These blessings, as Pierre says, will “. . .sow seeds of healing that one day will spring forth as flowers in the waste places of your own life.”
Bless your community, and the many people who work hard to sustain it – the teachers, firefighters, policemen, nurses and others (even the politicians) who work hard and often with little thanks. Bless the children, the bakers, plumbers, musicians, bankers, poets, thieves, truck drivers, priests and prostitutes. Bless the cashiers, waitresses and clerks. Bless the garbage collector, the postman, the person who delivers your newspaper, your neighbors and their barking dog.
Watch for “blowback” as you do your blessings. If you are holding resentment towards someone, it means that some part of you has work to do on whatever issue the other person brought up. Remember, your feelings are not about the other person. They are about the unresolved inner issue that the other has triggered in you. You still will not like what they did, but the reaction is yours. In time you will realize that every event in your life – everything that happens – is to raise your awareness of your beliefs.
Eventually your blessings will shift to an ongoing yearning in your heart. You will find yourself blessing everyone you meet or come in contact with. Eventually you reach out to bless groups of people. It is truly a remarkable process! And blessing does help others, but the real benefit is the way it opens your heart, frees you from your judgments and deepens your compassion and that gift is simply remarkable!
The moment someone expresses even the slightest aggression or unkindness to you, respond with a blessing. Bless them totally, sincerely, joyfully. This can be difficult because we typically become defensive when we feel attacked, but as soon as you calm down, move to blessing. This is difficult to put into words, but if you could see what happens energetically, your blessing meets the energy of their fear-based criticism and dissipates the energy like rain. Interestingly, it also helps protect them from the ignorance of their own foolishness. If the other person is expressing a sincere feeling, even if it is anger, your blessing will honor them, embrace what they are sharing and allow a healthy space between you for resolution.
If your day goes awry, move immediately to bless the unexpected, because life is bringing you something important! The things that shake everything up blow holes in our otherwise ordered existences and demand that we address important things we have chosen to ignore. They force us to move to a new perspective. And we almost never like it. Some people get pretty angry at God when the tables get upset. Really, they are angry at being forced to address that which they would rather ignore.
Remember that whatever is happening, you have called it in, and blessing it is a wonderful way to not get caught up in the drama of the situation, (even if you do not yet understand what is happening). It is helpful to keep in mind that whatever is going on, like it or not, ultimately will be in your long-term best interest.
The only remaining thing to bless can present something of a challenge – and that is to bless yourself. . . Difficult isn’t it? We can be pretty hard on ourselves. We criticize ourselves for everything that goes wrong, every mistake, every “blemish” in our character. We give ourselves little slack when it comes to messing up. Consider that what you are doing here is never helpful or constructive. Its sole purpose is to tear you down so that you will be in conformity with your inner beliefs.
This is actually a protective mechanism run by your hurt inner one who fears being exposed in the world. If you think about it, it is odd how much room we will give others to be “human” and how forgiving we can be of their mistakes, and how little room we give to ourselves for those same errors. So, on this point I want to offer a suggestion to you:
Recognize that in every moment you are doing the best you can, even if you suck at it. Sure, we all want to do better, but that is for next time. In this moment, do the best that you honestly can, don’t slack off, or avoid if you can help it, and let God take care of the details (He/She is much better at them anyway).
Take a moment and look at the good things you do. Look at the love and kindness you give to others. Of course you have faults! We all do! You would not be here if you didn’t! Always, of course, do the best you can, but don’t just sit there and dwell on what is wrong with you.
If you are having trouble with life or with other people, recognize that your fear is bubbling up from your wounded inner one. Bless her. She is trapped in difficult circumstances and is doing the best she can. Work to help her heal her pain (we have found the shamanic journey process to be ideal for doing this), but in the moment, bless her. Bless her a lot!
Take a minute and look at what is right about you. And there’s a lot. . . and bless yourself for that. Some thoughts from Pierre in closing:
Have you ever thought about what a unique and wonderful person you are?
A person full of wonderful things to behold, to marvel about?
Have you ever thought how deeply cherished of the universe, of Providence you are?
Have you ever considered that God rejoices that you exist?
Have you ever thought of your Creator being so happy about your existence that He/She’s practically dancing for joy?
Just a thought. . .
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2014