Practising the gentle art of blessing

A blessing or a curse?

Argggghhhh! Life’s filled with noise, delays, demands, and reasons to wait. And it leaving everyday life feeling like one big irritation.

Our shoulders tense and our faces grimace as we curse under our breath at yet another red-light, a slow driver or a long line-up. A good day easily turns painful as our internal thermostat of irritation, frustration and pressure continues to climb.

As our sense of frustration and stress accumulates throughout the day, we become like tightly wound springs.

If we stuff those feelings down inside, they make us sick and affect our mental, emotional and physical health. We may find ourselves releasing tension on unsuspecting, innocent people—safe people, like our families. When this happens, a whole new set of problems develops.

While it’s easy and human to get stuck living a reactive life, subject to the events of the world, there are things we can do to not only support and empower ourselves, but to add to the goodness that’s so needed in the world.

A practice I’ve found very helpful and empowering is called The Gentle Art of Blessing, taken from a book of the same name by Pierre Pradervand.

As Pradervand offers in his subtitle, it’s a simple practice that will transform you and your world. I’ve found this to be true as I use this practice liberally, and I want to share it with you.

Recently, smack-dab in the middle of a spiritual service I was offering at the hospital, the loud alarm sounded as a “code blue,” or cardiac arrest, was announced repeatedly over the loud-speakers. Knowing the implications of this for all involved—patient and staff alike—I engaged the group in the simple practice of offering a blessing for the patient and staff involved in the code.

As a group, we paused, extending caring thoughts and blessings to this emergency and, as people opened their eyes following our practice, everyone was smiling and relaxed, excited at having participated. I was delighted to learn this simple act had been transformative for people in the group.

For some in the group, the sound of the alarm had previously created irritation and upset, and the simple art of changing perspective and offering a blessing of support created a sense of connectedness and peace instead.

One group-leader was excited by the change and decided to incorporate this practice of blessing the next time a code alarm sounded, using it as an opportunity instead of seeing it as an irritation.

The change of perspective is key. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. We start to find opportunity to offer kindness, blessing and support in places we may have previously judged or been irritated. While I may sound a bit Pollyannaish, it’s transformed my experience of life for the better.

I know I am the first person to experience the effects of my thoughts and feelings. Each thought I have creates a corresponding chemical cascade in my body, either of negativity and stress, or of kindness and care. I alone decide which internal pharmacy I access by choosing which perspective I choose to take; frustration and irritation or blessing and kindness. It’s empowering to choose.

I use this practice liberally, especially in situations that used to challenge or frustrate me. I also engage in this simple practice each time I hear a siren, blessing the ambulance attendants and the patient, knowing help is on the way.

I’ve learned I don’t have to suffer and pay an internal price for circumstances beyond my control, like the code buzzer. In situations where I felt a victim to what was happening, I feel empowered to offer goodness, not only to others, but to myself. I am the only one who can affect what’s happening inside of me.

I’ve applied this blessing practice in many areas of my life and know it helps me set my internal compass to experience and expect the good, and I’m not often disappointed. While it easily becomes second nature to curse what challenges us, it’s liberating to choose a blessing instead. I hope you give it a try.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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