Whirling Dervishes and Others

I was working on my next lesson. We have done the two, introductory lessons and we are getting ready for mindfulness, lesson one.

I throw a lot of extra ‘stuff’ into a lesson. I was looking at information related to the origins of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation has a rich and ancient history rooted in the religions of the world. There are mindfulness mantras in many religions.

A mantra is a repetitive song. “Om Shanti Om” is the peace chant of Buddhism (but if you want something really wild, click here for the “Om Shanti O” song on YouTube. Holy Bollywood, Batman!). [Lin/Linda here: the video is indeed a Bollywood version. I recommend this version by Deva Premal. Best to listen to it with headphones, she has a very incredible lyrical voice.]

Gregorian chants can be seen as Christian mantras. Click here for one video. There are many others.

You use your voice and a repetitive song as the focus for your attention. Sound meditation as prayer.

For Whirling Dervishes, part of the Sufi tradition, the focus of attention is on the repetitive spinning….and on Allah. Movement meditation as prayer.

In short,  it dawned upon me mindfulness practice – including repetitive, rhythmic stimuli – and prayer seem pretty closely linked. Mindfulness can focus attention necessary for prayer, for example. Prayer can be used as a point to focus attention. Repetitive stimuli can calm lower brain centers  which in turn allows you to be more mindful and pray. Hmmmmm…how about that?

DBT lists prayer as a distress tolerance skill. It is a way to get through a crisis with as little suffering as possible.

Linehan lists three types of prayer. Linehan talks about “why me?” prayer. To me, this sort of prayer sounds pretty whiny. It sounds like plenty of suffering has been attached to the pain. Why? Because the person is fighting reality.

Remember: it is what it is. There really is nothing that can be done to change reality.

DBT suggests we don’t fight reality. The opposite of fighting reality is acceptance. In other words, thy will be done. I accept things are the way they are. Remember acceptance does not mean approval. It just means you are willing to accept and operate within the new rules of the game.

Psalm 40 verse 8 is about accepting and acting in accordance with the will of God for example. Psalm 37.23  is another example. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of other examples in the world’s religious tradition. These may help keep you from the suffering fighting reality brings.

Another thing about acceptance through prayer? If you are a person of faith, there may be a little internal voice that says to you “I’ve got this.”  When you are dealing with something above your capabilities, it is nice to feel you have some ‘expert’ help available.

Linehan also talks about the distress prayer. Her distress prayer is pretty much an extended version of my “Oh, s***! Help!” prayer, with the distress prayer asking for solutions over time.

My “help!!!” prayer is usually uttered in the face of imminent disaster!

I am not a religious scholar by any means but in my lexicon there are two more types of prayer. They are “Wow! Nice job!” and “Thanks”. In other words, they are praise and gratitude prayers.

Praise and gratitude prayers are positive things. They help us recognize we really are not bereft of all good things. In the cases of many of us reading this, AMD may have taken many things away but many wonderful things and many things we can be grateful for still remain. Sometimes we just need a reason to notice them.

List good things for a gratitude prayer.  Close to the idea of accumulating positives; yes? Yes!

So repetitive, rhythmic stimuli/ movement, mindfulness, acceptance,
praise, gratitude, accumulating positives… they all seem to come together in prayer. Cool.

Next: dog and pony show



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