Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lost and Found

One of the ways I knew I was “lost” during my marriage was feeling how difficult it had become for me to do my daily practise of prayer and meditation. I had the time, I had the solitude and the quiet, and I had a wonderful spot to sit looking out into the forest around our country home. It was an ideal setting for prayer and meditation, but I felt like I was going through the motions.

It’s not that I’d never felt like this before. In the ebb and flow of life there had been times when I'd found it more difficult to connect with myself and a sense of Spirit, that Presence which is both within and larger than myself. But this wasn’t just a day or a week or a month of feeling disconnected. It started to add up to years. Still, I persisted, doing the shamanic prayers I'd been taught- a way of naming and seeking alignment with the many aspects and manifestations of the sacred that allows for personal present-momented expression within the guiding structure of the medicine wheel.

But, for the first time in my life, it felt futile. I remember thinking that I’d wandered so far from the centre of life and awareness that I couldn’t really pray. My expressions of gratitude (and I had lots to be grateful for) felt hollow, and my requests for help echoed off a sense of futile emptiness I’d never felt before. Eventually, knowing that prayers are often infused with heart when we pray in the particular, close to our everyday concerns, I gave myself permission to pray for anything- no matter how trivial or un-spiritual a desire it might seem to be. But, I was blank. There was nothing for which I could pray that felt alive or possible.

When the marriage ended a year and a half ago my daily practise was revitalized, initially by the strangely co-existing grief over the loss of a shared life and dreams and spontaneous gratitude for a return to a sense of aliveness. It was a little like thawing a frozen body part. (I grew up 400 miles north of Toronto where high winds at forty below zero taught me about frost bite.) It hurts, but you know that pain is a good sign, that it means the frozen tissue is still viable, still alive.

Eventually my prayers became more about being present to my new life. But I still felt something was missing- that I was not connecting with whatever the next step of my journey was, did not know what I ached for so I could fuel my prayers with the passion of my heart and soul.

Until last week. Last week I decided to do a refresher course in some of the skill training I’d done decades before in counselling. I attended a two day training on healing trauma- and it was as if something inside of me opened: a new level of compassion and hope for myself and others; an appreciation for how we are made for healing, always moving inexorably (if often unconscious) toward that which will heal us and allow us to live more fully and deeply.

After the first day of the training I lay in bed and did my evening prayers- and what I needed and wanted to pray for came instantly to my lips and overwhelmingly from my heart: to know my own wholeness restored so I could fully grasp the life I have been given and offer all of who I am to this time and place. I realize that could sound pretty heady or general, but it felt (and still feels) very specific to me and is fired by a deep knowing that this is not only where my intention is focused, but is something that is happening by grace even as I say the prayer. And I am deeply grateful to be able to find my way back to the centre of prayers spoken from the heart and fueled by the soul's desire.

(c) 2011 Oriah


  1. Any advice for those of us who find ourselves in the same position- knowing we should have so much to feel grateful for- but feeling overwhelmed by stress and worry and feeling that we've forgotten how to pray- or even what to ask for? I know, I know, a hard and complex question. I'm doing the reading, doing the therapy- in short working hard and honestly on everything I should be- but I still feel empty and stressed way too often. It's soooo frustrating...

  2. Mieke, well all I can really say is "keep going" - therapy is good (if it's good therapy) and should help you get and stay more in touch with what is driving the disconnection. And. . .pay attention to anything, any place, any situtation etc that seems to elicit even a flicker of life, of interest, of curiosity and enthusiasm. Prayers for ease and clarity.

  3. I had an epiphany last week following a counselling session. Although my marriage ended some years ago, there was much I had not processed and/or let go. Last Thursday, I suddenly felt there was light and peace in my life after half a lifetime. Utterly utterly beautiful.

  4. theotheralig- lovely! Amazing when old "stuff" shifts and new light shines through- congratulations! :-)

  5. thank you so much for your unfiltered honesty, it helps more than you know.

  6. Beautifully written Oriah! Have been feeling this empty feeling for a few years myself... looking forward to the day it's in the past. Sometimes I think it's a resting period or gearing up for the next great feat I'll accomplish... having been through it a few times throughout my life.

  7. I am in a place in my life where I feel that same futile emptiness, a disconnection from myself. I don't connect to the same things I used to, including writing at times. It is such a dark place to be. But what stood out to me from what you wrote was: "we are made for healing, always moving inexorably...toward that which will heal us and allow us to live more fully and deeply." This makes me think of where I live at the moment, a city I hate that has brought my spirit down. I am only here for school and will move soon, but what you wrote made me wonder whether I was brought here to heal a part of myself that I never knew was broken... thank you.