"We need to encourage an understanding that inner peace comes from relying on human values like love, compassion, tolerance, and honesty, and that peace in the world relies on individuals finding inner peace." --His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
These six words--please heal my fear-based thoughts--change lives. In this brief and inspiring book, based on Engle's study of A Course in Miracles, she explains how to use the prayer and experience immediate benefits:
- being less irritable, more patient
- laughing more
- feeling like you have more time, more energy
- worrying less
- making decisions more easily
- saying no without guilt
A typical prayer goes something like this: "Please help us find the money to pay our mortgage this month." Saying the prayer may help you feel like the burden of that month's mortgage has been lifted, but the part of you that feeds on fear will simply seek out new financial worries to keep you awake at night. Old patterns remain intact.
In contrast, asking, "Please heal my fear-based thoughts about our mortgage" lifts the burden AND relieves the need to re-create that fear and hold onto it. This prayer heals your very desire for burdens, your addiction to fear-based thoughts, freeing you to live without that fear and with greater peace of mind. As a result, your financial situation is also free to improve. That's what makes it so different.
One Facebook fan told Engle, "The most blessed aspect of this prayer is all the open space it creates for peace--I never knew how many fear-based thoughts were clogging up in me until... this prayer."
|Publisher:||Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
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The Only Little Prayer You Need
The Shortest Route to a Life of Joy, Abundance, and Peace of Mind
By Debra Landwehr Engle
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Debra Landwehr Engle
All rights reserved.
* * *
It was January 11, 2013, and I felt like it had already been a long year. Earlier in the week, I'd made a significant mistake with a major client. And, even though everyone on my project team was gracious and understanding, I had a hard time forgiving myself for it. In fact, at three o'clock the next morning, I woke up panicked that I'd sent the wrong file to the same client. I felt like someone had shoved a lit torch down my throat.
Tired, and clearly not in the best of moods, I drove with my husband, Bob, to pick up our Honda CR-V at the body shop. The driver's door had been damaged in a minor accident at a grocery store parking lot. After renting a series of cars, I was ready to climb into a vehicle that fit me again.
When I did, I was pleased to see that the dent was repaired, as was the gap between the window and the doorframe. Bob opened my driver's door to check it out.
"It looks good," I said. "I'm happy."
But the door didn't close properly. Bob opened it and shut it harder, but he had to slam it before it latched. My mood, which had been momentarily lifted, started again on a downward slope.
Bob talked to the body shop manager and made arrangements for more repair in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, we figured, we could go ahead and return the rental.
I drove the CR-V, following Bob down the highway toward the interstate. Before long, I heard a rattle in the dash, then a vibration. Every time I hit a bump in the road, it seemed like the rattles got worse—and so did my attitude.
It's not really fixed, I thought. It has to go back to the shop, and it'll never be right. From there, my thoughts took a nosedive. I thought about the fact that the accident had been preventable. It wouldn't have happened if I'd been driving instead of Bob. My thoughts headed fast into a cesspool, all blaming Bob, the body shop mechanic, or myself for weeks of inconvenience, expense and frustration. As I drove, I become more miserable.
I don't know about you, but I've spent way too much time in that cesspool during my life. Despite the fact that I've long been a student of spiritual traditions, meditation, and spiritual practices—I've even taught them for many years—I still find my thoughts drifting too much to the negative. I can easily fall into irritation or frustration. When I'm stressed, I'm unkind and snippy, sometimes downright mean.
As we arrived at the car dealership to return the rental, I was exhausted. Not just from the last few minutes of negative thinking, but from years of it. In this case, I was afraid the CR-V would never be right. I was afraid I'd never forgive Bob. I was afraid I'd always be mad that he was driving the day of the accident. I was afraid we wouldn't get reimbursed from the insurance company. I was afraid, as I've been many times before, that I would continue to be unhappy.
I had had all these thoughts, or some facsimile of them, literally hundreds if not thousands of times before. Our issues of money, unexpected events and the future were never resolved. It wasn't because Bob and I never talked about them; we did. But somehow nothing ever really seemed to shift.
As I sat in the CR-V while Bob went inside to handle the paperwork, I genuinely wanted to do something different, but that was just it: I couldn't do it. My mind had created the problem, and I couldn't fix it with that same mind. What I wanted was a breath of fresh air—a whoosh of love, acceptance, and healing. I knew that couldn't come from me. It had to come from another power.
I thought about my options, and the only one that seemed feasible was to ask for help. I sat back in the driver's seat, looked out over the sea of cars at the dealership parking lot, and found myself saying these words to the Holy Spirit:
I had never said that prayer before. In fact, it just showed up. And at the time, it didn't seem like anything remarkable. After all, when we're in pain, we turn to a higher power for healing with whatever words come from the heart. But what happened next took it to a whole different level.CHAPTER 2
What It Means
* * *
When Bob got in the CR-V, I was still in a bad mood. The prayer hadn't changed anything—or so I thought.
"Well," I began, with plenty of attitude, "there are big rattles in the dash, and one time I heard wind coming through the driver's window."
Bob jotted down notes for the body shop manager. "Anything else?" he asked, genuinely helpful.
"No," I said glumly as I pulled out into traffic. "You'll hear the rattles when we hit some bumps."
I pulled onto the interstate, and Bob trained his ear toward the dashboard to hear what I was talking about. We hit a couple of bumps and ... nothing. No rattle, no vibration. I figured the vibrations were muffled by the road noise in heavy traffic. But we hit more bumps ... still nothing.
About halfway home, Bob said, "I haven't heard anything yet, have you?"
"No," I said, almost disappointed. How could I make him feel guilty if nothing was wrong? "We'll hear it when we get on the highway," I said, thinking bigger bumps would reveal the rattles.
But there weren't any. Not a single sound all the way home. The problems seemed to have disappeared.
Huh, I thought, still pouting as we pulled in the drive.
When I went inside, part of me was glad, and another part felt cheated. I'd wanted to punish Bob by saying, "See, it's really messed up and it's all your fault."
I hung up my coat, looked through the mail, and then started hearing my inner voice talking. Essentially, this is what it said:
Oh, I thought, in the mundane sort of way that sometimes precedes great change. A change in my internal perception had just shifted my external environment. This, in the teachings of A Course in Miracles, would qualify as a miracle, a return to what the Course calls "right-mindedness."
As long as I was rattled, I needed rattles in my dash to help me heal. But when my thoughts were healed, the rattles were no longer needed.
This "ah-ha" moment spread through me slowly like a warm drink. I realized it was big—something that, despite all my years of spiritual study, I had never understood in quite this way before.
Wayne Dyer has long said: "Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change." In other words, change your perception, and your world looks different.
I get that. If I believe the world is a scary place, I'm going to see dangerous situations everywhere. If I change my perception to believing the world is a safe place, I'm going to see help and support everywhere.
But this was different.
"Bob," I said, "we have something important to talk about, and it's really good, so let's sit down." I'm sure he could detect a change of tone in my voice.
We sat at the kitchen counter, opened a bag of Ruffles and a bag of carrots, and propped our legs on each other's chairs like we usually do.
I explained the whole trip to the rental car facility and how angry I had been. I told him how I asked for my fear-based thoughts to be healed—after which the rattles in the car had disappeared.
"I think this is what happened," I said. "We come into this life with certain lessons to learn about love and acceptance. And so every situation and relationship is here to help us become more loving and accepting. They give us opportunities to learn.
"When we ask for our fear-based thoughts to be healed, we're asking to replace fear with love and acceptance. When our thoughts are healed, we no longer need the lesson, and the circumstances or issues go away."
It struck me that this truly is the secret. When our thoughts are healed, we no longer need the lesson, and the circumstances or issues go away. It's also incredibly simple, which is why we struggle against it or forget to ask for help. How could it possibly be effective when it's so easy? But when we can remember to ask for our thoughts to be healed, not only are we changed, our "problems" may eventually cease to exist.
After munching on a few more potato chips and carrots, Bob and I pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote down all the major things we have fear thoughts about. Money: earning, spending, saving, and investing. Our home and property. Our businesses. Friends and family. Hormones. The economy. As the list grew, we realized we have fear-based thoughts about pretty much everything in one way or another.
Then, for the next thirty minutes, we went through each item on the list, taking turns asking that our fear-based thoughts about that item be healed so we could be restored to right-mindedness.
In some cases our requests were generic; in some cases they were more specific. With health, Bob asked for his fear-based thoughts about glaucoma and his gluten intolerance to be healed. For money, I asked for my fears about retirement savings to be healed.
We went through the entire list, taking our time, being thoughtful about every item. When we were done, we weren't sure what had just happened, or what would happen next. But I can tell you one thing: my bad mood was long gone, and harmony had been restored.CHAPTER 3
What Is Fear?
* * *
The story of the CR-V may seem unremarkable, but that's really the point. In life, we often look for big stories, big miracles: the woman who lifts the bus off her child, or the blind person whose sight is suddenly restored. But the real miracle is the change in our minds that makes it possible for us to live a life of joy and peace rather than one of struggle and internal chaos. Those miracles are available to us every day, simply by shifting from fear to love. The trick is to make that shift in a real and lasting way.
That's why, after Bob and I talked, the warm drink inside me felt more nourishing as I realized how profound this was. I sat down at the computer and started to write about it. "This is BIG!" I wrote. "Really, really BIG! We don't need to fix the problem. We need to have our thoughts about the problem healed. When we do that, there's no longer a need for the lesson. Whatever needed to be fixed or healed will no longer be an issue."
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I believe this is the answer we're looking for. This is the one thing that could change your world.
Let me tell you why I believe that so strongly.
According to A Course in Miracles, our minds have two sides. One is the ego. Unlike our traditional definition of the ego, which connotes people who are boastful or full of themselves, the Course makes the ego seem like a two-year-old on speed. Demanding, prone to tantrums and outbursts, the ego runs on fear.
The other part represents the higher Self, which remembers that we are children of God. Quiet and respectful, it communicates through whispers and gentle nudges as it expresses and extends divine love.
We live in a world that feeds our egos with fear. We're bombarded by fear-based messages every day. Terrorism will get us, or earthquakes or global warming or the economy. And we're constantly judged or judging ourselves: for what we're wearing, our hair, our car, our home, our productivity, our performance on the job, our kids' accomplishments, and on and on. Once you start to break it down, you see that fear is pervasive, like a cancer that's gotten into our bones.
We can also feed our higher Selves in this world, but we do that in a different way—one that's not nearly as sexy as big drama can be. We feed it through meditation, self-reflection, stillness, time in nature, and other typically quiet pursuits that allow us to listen to the voice within. By doing these things, we become more aware of the light within us, the love that is the essence of who we are.
Think of it this way: Our essence, or love, is like a flame that never goes out. But that flame burns inside a lantern that's covered in dirt—covered in fear. The more fearful our thoughts, the more opaque the walls of the lantern become, until we can't see the flame inside at all. We may forget the flame is there, or feel like it has no impact on our lives because we don't know how to access it. At that point, fear rules our existence.
That's why the Course says, "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." In other words, while the world piles fear on top of our light, our job is to remember that light within. When we do, whatever seemed to conceal it ceases to exist.
That's where the prayer comes in.
Let's look more closely at fear and love. When I teach the Course, I find it helps to picture two trees. Let's name one the "Fear Tree" and the other the "Love Tree."
I do this is because our typical definitions of fear and love are limited. When we think of fear, we usually think of things we're afraid of: cancer, economic crisis, losing our jobs, our kids being hurt, personal loss, death.
When we think of love, we typically think of romantic love, or the love we have for our kids, or our pets, or our best friend.
But when you stop to really think about it, all our emotions are rooted in either the Fear Tree or the Love Tree.
The branches of the Love Tree yield kindness, compassion, caring, creativity, joy, playfulness, peace, acceptance, and the biggest one, forgiveness—all the feelings that are rooted in love.
The branches of the Fear Tree yield hurt, anger, meanness, violence, and the biggest one, judgment—all the feelings that are rooted in fear.
In fact, fear yields many things that we don't usually attribute to it. It may be easy, for instance, to see how worry is rooted in fear. But how is, say, boastfulness a form of fear? Well, let's trace it back to where it comes from: you feel insecure about your worth, you feel you've got to prove yourself, and so you brag about your accomplishments. In truth, you're afraid that people won't like you, that you don't matter, that you don't deserve to be here. When you're boastful, you're really acting from fear.
A lot of the thoughts we think every day—and I mean the overwhelming majority of them—are rooted in fear. And yet we don't think about them that way because they're about the mundane, like rattles in the dashboard. Sure, we're aware of major threats: job loss, death, life-changing illness, financial collapse, natural disasters, terrorist attacks. But the insidiousness of fear is that it creeps into the cracks between those threats and settles in, often unnoticed. It becomes a constant cover of darkness that never allows us to fully experience the inner light.
Let's look at a list of fear-based thoughts as a quick reference.
* Conformity, living according to others' expectations at the expense of your unique gifts
* False humility
* Feeling superior to others
* Feeling not good enough, unloved, as though you don't matter
* Need for power
This is not a complete list. And I'm not saying these emotions are all "bad." They're part of our human experience. Grief, for instance, can be an expression of love, and it's an important part of healing. Anger can produce great clarity.
Excerpted from The Only Little Prayer You Need by Debra Landwehr Engle. Copyright © 2014 Debra Landwehr Engle. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Blessing from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama vii
1 The Prayer 1
2 What It Means 7
3 What Is Fear? 15
4 How Does Fear Impact Your Life? 37
5 What Makes This Prayer Different? 59
6 How Do You Say the Prayer? 77
7 Paying Attention to Your Thoughts 87
8 What Can You Expect When You Start? 99
9 What Happens Over Time? 115
10 How Does the Prayer Work in Real Life? 143
11 How the Prayer Can Change the World 165
And Finally 193