Deepening Our Connection with Our Higher Power—Part 2
In Part 1 of this series I shared some things that I find helpful in attempting to deepen my own connection with my higher power. These include heartfelt practice of prayer and meditation, cultivating an attitude of gratitude and participating in a community of faith. In this column I will discuss the role of our actions in deepening our sense of connection, together with some practices I find to be especially helpful when I experience a particularly acute need for guidance and protection.
Deepening Our Connection Through Our Actions
Two of the foremost spiritual teachers who ever walked this planet, Jesus Christ and the Buddha, both stressed the importance of deepening our faith through our actions—together with the intention we place behind these actions.
Quoting from an inspirational booklet by Clarence Enzler (1986) titled “Everyone’s Way of the Cross,” at the 5th station of the cross Jesus states: “Each time you lift some burden from another’s back, you lift as with your very hand the cross’ awful weight that crushes me.” Likewise, the Buddha placed great emphasis on consciously manifesting in our day-to-day affairs the virtues of right thought, right speech and right action, all grounded in right and honorable intention.
Everyday we are challenged to put our muscle behind our faith by taking the right actions—actions in which we unselfishly choose to reach out and lend a hand to another, simply because we know deep within our hearts that it’s the right thing to do. Choosing this path is not always easy, as we may end up subjecting ourselves to considerable suffering and inconvenience, and even incur ridicule from others.
An example that immediately comes to mind is the benevolent action taken by one of my stepdaughters in Southern California on behalf of her niece, who along with her older sister was abandoned by her mother at a critical juncture for both girls in completing their high school education. After years of sobriety and serving as the primary source of support for her daughters, the mother once again succumbed to the lure of drugs and alcohol and returned to the streets.
At considerable sacrifice to herself in terms of loss of sleep, time lost from work and financial hardship, our stepdaughter continues to carry on out of her love for the girls and her overriding concern for their welfare. She forges ahead despite the major stress she experiences at the hands of an extremely dysfunctional legal system, which she is battling to this day in an attempt to gain custody and foster-parent status for the younger niece who is still in high school.
Yes, my wife and I do everything we can to provide my stepdaughter with both emotional and logistical support, and to help out financially whenever we can. Nevertheless, this determined young woman is, by choice, bearing the lion’s share of the burden to ensure that both girls will reap the benefits of a wholesome upbringing.
Is all of this bringing my stepdaughter closer to her higher power? All I can say is that I am extremely proud when I think of how much she has grown in terms of maturity and compassion through stepping up to the plate for her two nieces.
Deeping Our Connection at Times of Desperation
We all encounter times in our lives when we feel that we are drowning—feeling that we are totally overwhelmed by the circumstances we’re confronted with and caught up in the grips of despair. At these times I find the following exercise extremely helpful:
- Kneel down and pray to your higher power. Pour your heart out and ask for specific guidance concerning whatever you need to do or let go of in order to get back on track and restore peace and harmony to your life. End your prayer with “and thy will be done.”
- Lie down on your bed or on the floor. Take several slow, deep breaths and allow your entire body to relax. Visualize any and all tension drifting away as you release each breath. Tune in and become aware of any signs of tension or distress in various parts of your body, and direct your breathing through these areas to enable them to let go and relax.
- Now close your eyes and slowly count down from 20 to 1. It may be helpful to visualize the grains of sand flowing down through a timer as you do this.
- LISTEN—This is the receptive side of the prayer process. Release any thought patterns, tune in to the sensation of quietude within your body and your mind, and completely surrender any attempts to force a response or otherwise control the situation. Patiently wait to hear from that still, small voice within. If you discern that the message is coming from inside you rather than from your conscious thought processes, then you are connecting with your higher power. It’s okay to silently ask for clarification, but if you find that you are thinking rather than listening, let go of your thoughts and give that still, small voice within the space to comfort you and guide you.
- End this process by giving heartfelt thanks to your higher power for the guidance you have received, as well as for whatever additional guidance and direction that will flow through you when the timing is appropriate.
It seems that when I am able to set aside my overly active thought processes and humbly listen for inner direction and guidance, I invariably receive the message I need to hear at that particular time. If the answers don’t immediately seem to come, however, thank your higher power for the guidance that is on its way and have faith that you will receive the guidance and direction you are seeking at the appropriate time.
In this two-part series I have attempted to share some ways of deepening your connection with your higher power in the ways that I find helpful. In addition to these suggestions, you have most likely found other powerful ways of deepening your connection that work well for you. As the slogan goes, “If it works, don’t fix it.” Until next time, to your health!
Buddhism—the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, Karma and Meditation Practice. (Undated). Retrieved from www.thebigview.com/buddhism.
Daily Word. Published bimonthly by Unity. For subscription information visit: www.unity.org.
Enzler, C. (1986). Everyone’s Way of the Cross. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.