724thWeek: The Practice of Blessing
One of the great gifts of vacation time is to have an opportunity to do some reading. One of the books I had an opportunity to read over this year’s recent vacation is Pierre Pradervand’s book, “The Gentle Art of Blessing.” In his book, Pradervand speaks of offering blessings as a powerful practice of presence. In part, this practice brings us back into presence because of the way it invites us to shift from reactions and judgments into offering blessings in a spontaneous, moment-to-moment way.
As I read his book, my feeling was that what he offers powerfully supports a shift from moving through the world from a mental perspective, drawing primarily on the brain in the head, to moving through the world from the perspective the heart. We’ve spent many of these practices exploring heart perception and intelligence and, in my opinion, the shift from head brain to heart brain is one of the major things that humans need to do, collectively as well as individually, as we mature.
For this reason, I’d like to share some of Pierre’s ideas and to invite you to engage the ongoing activity of offering blessings as this week’s practice in conscious living. Your particular ways of offering blessings may be different from Pierre’s or mine and that’s fine, as I think it’s always most powerful when we follow practices that feel alive to us. Here’s a quotation from Pierre’s book that conveys his sense of offering blessings:
“The practice of blessing is a simple way to develop a constantly centered awareness. It is also a tool for growing in universal love and avoiding judgment. 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.
“Blessing is not a technique we perform but a presence we embody. It is not an act we do to someone or something, but a relationship we form with them that enables us all to be embraced in the presence of an unobstructed world.”
As you engage this practice in conscious living, notice how it affects the quality of your physical and psychological life. My experience is that shifting into offering blessings generates an internal experience that is lighter, more open, more in touch with well-being than I feel when I’m irritated or impatient. Notice what happens in your body, bringing your awareness to the sensations that arise when you offer blessings, and also notice the tone and quality of your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to what unfolds when you shift from a head-centered perspective into a heart-centered perspective.
This doesn’t mean we don’t need an integration between head and heart. For sure, our head brain is an amazing resource and we don’t want to ignore it. That said, we seem to have forgotten that our heart intelligence and perception are actually the more important place to rest our ongoing awareness as we move through the world. When we live from our heart brain, our experience is very different from how it is when we attend only to the perspectives and responses that arise in our head brain. Take time to notice these differences…
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Rather, it’s an invitation to explore your individual relationship with blessing and to what this practice can offer you as a support for an internal quality of life that enhances your daily experience. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that arise as you play with this practice.