If you poke around over on the NPR site there is a fascinating series about prayer, meditation, spirituality and the brain. In particular, the piece "Prayer May Reshape Your Brain ... And Your Reality" intrigued me. There is both an article and an excellent audio piece I recommend - 8 minutes and 7 seconds long, if you have the time (for me it got very interesting around the 4:17 mark).
I must confess, though, that what left me irritated with myself was -- and I am chagrined to write it here -- my reaction to some of the study subjects' prayer and meditation routines. Many of these people pray and/or meditate one to two hours a day, every day*.
Personally, I have had some pretty profound spiritual experiences -- this whole damn blog came from one, in fact -- but ... one to two hours? For reals? To say that I find that daunting is ...
well, actually it's inaccurate. I don't find it daunting. I find it ... well, the truth is it sounds really, really boring to me.
Now, I am the kind of man who, when I was drinking and using, could spend literally 8 hours sitting on the same bar stool drinking. 8 hours.
And I suggest to people all the time that if they "turn up the volume" on their spiritual practice they will garner greater results.
Yet my first reaction to setting the bar at, oh, let's say one hour, in prayer and mediation a day is that I'm worried I'll be bored?
Jeeze, that's pretty sad.
But of course, by now AA has ingrained in me certain tools that come easily to hand when faced with a problem that either daunts, or, as in this case, embarrasses me:
I'll pray about it.
I don't think I'll be praying for an hour to ask God, the Universe or The Great Whatever to help me to pray for an hour -- but I think that a major addition to my prayer routine now (which, I confess, is pretty solid. It's not that I don't pray, or meditate every day ... it's just that I'm really ... ummmm ... efficient at it) will be to ask for the willingness and the focus and the desire to spend more time doing so.
And I will let you know here how it goes.
(And how's that for effed up? I mock the very things that I've experienced and written about here at Mr. SponsorPants: Prayer, contact with a God of your understanding, etc. What terrible pseudo-intellectual superiority do I still labor under? I'm not sure, but I admit it's occasionally good for a few laughs as I go through my day. I suppose the real trick is to take the seeking of a contact with God seriously, but not ourselves. If, on occasion, my "not taking seriously" spills over onto other people ... well ... sorry! Like I said, working on it.)