I want to share with you a spiritual practice that has recently brought me heightened feelings of happiness and peace in these turbulent times. If you are like me, you have had some challenges keeping your equilibrium and inner peace in these politically charged times of divisiveness and rancor. I recently discovered a powerful spiritual practice that has helped restore my personal sense of well-being, happiness and peace. I would like to share it with you now.
As the spiritual leader and Sunday speaker for my community, I have felt it important to stay up on current events of all kinds for two reasons. I consider national and world events, especially crises, to be requests for prayer. And I know that the news, what's going on in the world around us, is affecting my community members. So, I want to be prepared to offer some spiritual perspective and words of comfort for the emotional pain people experience as a result of what's in the news.
For the sake of efficiency in my day, I had fallen into the habit of turning on the radio news app on my phone first thing each morning as I made the bed and began to get ready for my day. However, I found myself feeling more and more angry, frustrated at what I heard, and was experiencing a growing feeling of angst, which didn't completely dissipate, even after my morning meditation. I noticed my thoughts were becoming more judgmental and less compassionate. I didn't like what I was becoming; ironically, the anger and judgment I was feeling was exactly what I disliked in the newsmakers I was blaming for being so angry and judgmental of their political opponents.
I realized I needed to do something to shift my perspective. I found that something when I read Pierre Pradervand's book, "The Gentle Art of Blessing: A Simple Practice That Will Transform You and Your World." One reviewer calls the book, "an antidote for resentments and an invitation to become a bigger soul." As the author points out, it is impossible to bless and be judgmental at the same time.
I decided to stop turning on the news when I awoke each morning. Instead, even before I got out of bed, I began to mentally bless others, especially those I was most tempted to judge harshly. By blessing, I mean wishing and envisioning only good things for the other person: happiness, peace, integrity, compassion, and so on. Blessing also means choosing to see the other as another "child of the Divine," as we all are. Pradervand urges his readers to do this from our hearts, sincerely wishing the best for the person being blessed.
This is a process that may take some persistence. Our intention to free ourselves from acrimony and bless even our "enemies," along with persistent practice, eventually leads us from our heads to our hearts. I found by not listening to the news, not allowing myself to get riled up by what I would hear, it was much easier to find my way back to compassion and my heart space, where I could sincerely wish the best, even for those with whom I vehemently disagreed.
Surprisingly, the first few days of my new practice I immediately felt better -- more like my "natural" loving self, less angry and off-kilter. I am by no means a perfect practitioner of blessing as yet, but I am committed to keep up the practice, to catch myself when I fall into bitter judgments. Pradervand reminds us it's important not to beat yourself up, instead to exercise compassion for yourself as well. In fact, the more we bless ourselves, the more we are able to unconditionally bless others!
For me, practicing the Art of Blessing does not mean remaining silent when I feel called to speak up about injustice or to advocate for the humane and just treatment of all human beings. Rather, it means doing so in a way that continues to honor the humanity and divinity of those with whom I disagree. My goal is to be come a clear voice for unity, for fair and equitable treatment of all beings and for loving care of our planet as well. And I am committed to doing this in the most compassionate way I am able.
In my spiritual philosophy, the Science of Mind, we believe that consciousness is creative. In other words, our thoughts become things. If we can each hold the consciousness of oneness, of truly wishing only the highest and best good for all beings, I believe we help bring that about. In this way, I believe we can help create a world that works for everyone. The Art of Blessing is a beautiful and powerful tool toward that end. In Pradervand's words, "Blessing means to become the music of love, sending serene and silent strains throughout the turbulent atmosphere of our times."
We don't practice blessing while being attached to any particular result. But Pradervand cites many examples of how silently blessing others actually resulted in shifts in their negative behavior. I invite you to find our own ways of constantly blessing everyone around you -- figures in the news, drivers who cut you off, neighbors, friends, even strangers. Try it and see if blessing can do for you what Pradervand promises: to shift your attitude from confrontation and negativity to acceptance and enthusiasm.
I would love to hear your results from practicing the Art of Blessing. You can reach me at: In the meantime, I bless each of you with Divine Love, Joy and Harmony. I honor each of you on your own spiritual path, whatever that may be.
Center for Spiritual Living Rogue Valley's Sunday celebration and youth programs are at 10 a.m. at the Scottish Rite Center, 3581 Lear Way, Medford.
Center for Spiritual Living~
Rev. Kimberly Hawkins
Reverend Kimberly Hawkins is an ordained minister and the dynamic Spiritual Director of Center for Spiritual Living Rogue Valley in Medford, Oregon. Rev. Kimberly has an M.A. in Counseling, with a background in teaching and counseling both at-risk and college-bound adolescents. In addition, Rev. Kimberly spent ten years in television news as a reporter, morning anchor, and writer/producer of television documentaries and specials for PBS.