Sister Alma Rose Prays for Ch’i

Plato and Aristotle (Raphael)

Plato and Aristotle (Raphael)

Cleanse Us with the Wind

Holy Spirit, Breath of Life, antithesis
of death; ye sole and first and final
Source of all that is, now guide us by our
rhythms and our signs into the channels
of the course of your propulsion. To
us, through us, may the sacred wind
find passage—unresisted; you the
inspiration, we the vessels, truth
and beauty cocreating. Blow away all
cold and brittle memories and twisted,
vain anxieties, all frozen willfulness, and
may the space swept clean be filled with
purpose, passion, lovingkindness,
spilling over into outward grace, accepted
undeserved, which we express, we must,
or burst with hoarding it, or find it
crumbled into dust, for it cannot be
stored. We do not need it, we who are
already whole. Thus, unimpeded may it
flow from soul to soul to soul. Amen

Above, right: In the detail from the fresco The School of Athens by Raphael, Plato (left) points up to the heavens, showing his belief in ultimate truth, and Aristotle (right) gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience.

Source: Wikipedia article on vitalism, accessed July 26, 2008. Vitalism is “a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces.”

Sister Alma Rose Prays the Breath Prayer

Prayer Is to the Spirit as Water Is to the Body

I found a lovely little book in the church lost-and-found: The Breath of Life: A Simple Way to Pray, by Ron DelBene. The author describes an ancient practice called “the breath prayer” and explains how to use it.

You know how you sometimes hear a song or a jingle (often an annoying one) and you just can’t get it out of your head? That’s kind of how the breath prayer works, except that it’s not “annoying,” because it’s one you devise yourself, based on your deepest need.

The breath prayer is a short, simple petition to God that works its way through your mind and heart to the core of your being. The author emphasizes that everyone must develop his or her own breath prayer. He gives examples, such as, “O God, let me feel your love.” He suggests ways to remember to say it, because reminders are necessary at first. He says that it is not a mantra, at least not in the way people often tend to think of mantras—but it really is a mantra, in the purest sense: sacred words that “protect the mind” (the literal translation of mantra).

From what does the mind need protection? Fear, a sense of isolation, irritability, anxiety, depression, cynicism, aimlessness, guilt, impatience—all manner of mischief, really.

Father DelBene, an Episcopal priest, recommends adopting a short, rhythmic prayer, six or eight syllables, that you can repeat while walking or doing other sorts of exercise, while waiting in traffic or standing in line at the market. I like to say it silently, synchronized with my breathing, when I’m falling asleep. It’s a lot better than the flotsam and jetsam that often bump around in your mind when you get into bed and turn off the light—the stuff you didn’t get done today, the stuff you need to do tomorrow….

Someone has said, “Prayer is to the spirit as water is to the body.” Drink up!

The Breath of Life: A Simple Way to Pray (The Breath of Life Series)