Balancing Prayer and Action: Personal and Global Transformation


“There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death. Whether it’s the mundane violence we do to our bodies by overeating toxic food or drink or the extreme violence of child abuse, domestic warfare, life-threatening poverty, addiction, or state terrorism.” Bell Hooks

In preparing for the next Mind-Body Connections workshop, it became apparent to me that I could not address the “tougher” emotions within us – like grief, anger, and rage – without speaking about the current events happening in our larger, global context. The Syrian refugee crisis, the terrorist attacks in Paris, and the shootings here in the States, to name just a few of the examples of war, violence, and hate running rabid today. There is much debate about how to respond.

“Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development.” – Pope Francis

The war and violence happening “out there” is a manifestation of what is happening “in here” – in our own hearts, homes, and relationships. If we want to end the violence “out there,” we must begin by addressing the violence we do “in here” – in our own hearts.

“Prayer alone is not enough,” I heard the other day on NPR in a program about addressing the violence in our world today. Neither is uninformed action. We can look to our Catholic roots for a wise and appropriate response: the right balance of prayer and action.

Prayer — meditation, discernment — informs wise action. They go hand-in-hand. Whether we are talking about ending the violence we do to our own selves – through negative self-talk, the busy pace we keep, the harsh standards we hold ourselves to – or the violence we are doing to each other, a wise response is to “begin within” with prayer, meditation, and discernment. Through just mindful “going within,” the wise actions to take arise.

I’ve seen this organic and healing process again and again sitting with clients in therapy and coaching. When we hold space for “going within” in a skillful way, we learn to listen deeply and abide with whatever arises – old patterns of thinking, memories of hurt, feelings of grief and anger. As we listen within – to the body and the spirit – we create an environment that supports healing. The “right action” arises.

If such healing is possible on a personal level through “holding space” and balancing prayer and action, so it is possible on a global level. It begins with each one of us committing to doing our own inner healing work and then taking the wise action that arises. This is how we transform our world.

On Wednesday, December 9, we will gather for our monthly Mind-Body Connections workshop, Grief, Frustration and Rage: Mindfulness and Tough Emotions. Please join us for a lovely balance between talk and meditation, personal reflection and global response.

This post was written by Lisa A. McCrohan, MA, LICSW, RYT, Wellness Workshop Facilitator, psychotherapist, compassion coach and founder of Barefoot Barn.

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