I came across a quote while browsing Instagram (sorry, there was no attribution) that says: “Your diet isn’t just what you eat and drink: It’s who you talk to, who your friends are, what you watch, what you listen to, what you read. Be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually and physically.”
What this essentially means is that the flow of our consciousness will often be directed by our surroundings. By curating certain “prompts” that we keep in our surroundings, we can direct our flow of consciousness towards states that are desirable. For years now, I’ve been curating and designing my own daily prayers on post-it notes to serve as thinking prompts and guide my stream of consciousness.
I understand that “prayer” is a loaded word, and may carry some baggage. However, you can always redefine words in ways that are useful to you.
To me, prayer is an acknowledgement of something greater than my immediate sensory experience.
- Prayer is confessing my vulnerabilities.
- Prayer is having gratitude.
- Prayer is asking for help.
I was particularly influenced by Jordan Peterson’s take on prayer: sit on the edge of your bed and think: “There’s probably something that i’m doing wrong or not doing well enough, that i’m being blind to, that I COULD fix, and that I WOULD fix, but don’t have the discipline or integrity or courage or character etc. to do so yet.”
If you knock, the door will open
If you ask, you will receive
Ask yourself in all humility. What could I do in a small way to move in that direction?
By this definition, praying is not that different from “thinking”, with intention.
After all, as Marcus Aurelius said, “The quality of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
Why intention is important
Whenever there’s a challenging task ahead of me I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that builds and twists. It’s a little different each time, but usually in the same ballpark: there’s doubt, dread, discomfort, and almost a desire to do anything but the task at hand. However, once I dive into the task and am deeply in flow, things are great and that tornado of feelings is well behind me.
While listening to Ed Mylett’s podcast one day, I remember hearing him say “I generate a great deal of comfort and confidence from my intentions.” It was an aha moment for me because I’ve always felt that comfort and confidence are absolutely essential if I want to get started on any kind of creative work.
When I am intention-driven, rather than outcome driven, I’m more at ease. I’m more playful! I’m less stressed and anxious. When we control our intentions, we can focus on our efforts rather than the outcomes of our efforts.
Both are important, of course. We need to have outcomes in mind in order to accomplish things, to plan – one of man/human’s distinguishing features. Our brains allow us to do this. Dogs and toddlers, for instance, can’t do this. They are completely in the moment. This is why your dog greets you the same way whether you’ve been gone for 10 minutes or 10 months. This is why a toddler can be in the middle of a BIG painful feeling one moment, and in a fit of giggles watching a garbage truck the next.
But getting started with the best intentions is perhaps the only way we can control the outcomes.
How To Curate Your Own Prayers - Feeling is Believing
FEELING is the most important part of this process. Feeling entails believing wholeheartedly.
This is more than just affirmations. If it’s not true, it will create dissonance, not alignment. For example, I can tell myself over and over that I am a millionaire, put it on post-it notes around the house, but if it’s not true, it’s going to be a ridiculous thing to read. Every time I check my account balance, pay a bill or want to purchase something, I’ll be reminded that I’m not really a millionaire and that I am lying to myself. This fervent denial can’t lead anywhere meaningful and will only cause conflict within the mind.
However, if I do have an intention to earn a million dollars, I can tell myself that I have all the resources I need to be one. When I sell a product or service, I will get validation for that belief.
Have you ever gone through a break up, were let go from a job, or experienced the death of a loved one? Chances are, you’re in the throes of a difficult time right now. When I’m going through something, I self-soothe by reading books and listening to podcasts, searching for answers. I’ll inevitably encounter specific quotes that resonate with me that lend me a great deal of comfort and strength. But these are easy to forget.
We forget too easily. Feelings come and go quickly, but it’s entirely possible to package a feeling into a few words that are unique to you and make you feel something specific. Whenever you have a strong feeling, your body keeps the score. The neural pathway is carved out and it’s there for you to access whenever you want.
A few years ago, my boss asked me for help with a problem on his Macbook. I’ve always been a Windows user and the problem seemed particularly complicated, with terminology that wasn’t familiar to me. After spending 40 minutes trying out various solutions and failing, I finally cracked it. Solving this problem, that I previously thought was impossible, made me feel incredibly empowered, competent, and confident. At that very moment, I made this post-it note.
It may almost seem trite to you, but to me, the words on the post-its around my room are juicy, potent distillations of ideas and truths that give me exactly what I need.
As you can see, the post-it note is now on my piano. Whenever I encounter a seemingly impossible piece to learn or a music theory concept that seems “too complicated”, I see that post-it note and I’m reminded that it may seem incredibly challenging, but I can take it on.
Do you have a daily prayer? Do you have post-it notes around the house that help you feel a certain way? Share them below!