Instructions for the Practice of Sacred Reading
Take a few minutes to quiet and center yourself. You may want to mark the beginning of your practice as sacred time by lighting a candle, ringing a meditation chime, taking a few deep mindful breaths, or offering a simple gesture of reverence such as placing your hand gently on your heart and bowing your head. Take a moment to recognize that this time of practice is not only for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of those whose lives you touch, directly or indirectly – even for the benefit, in some way you may never know, of the whole of life itself.
Read the day’s passage slowly and receptively several times, silently or, if possible, aloud.
Notice which word or phrase captures your attention. Take some time to reflect on the meaning that word or phrase has for you at this particular time, what it evokes in you, what questions or challenges or insights it raises for your life right now. You may want to jot the word or phrase down in a journal or on a card to carry with you as a reminder through your day.
Once you have reflected deeply on what Spirit, or life, is saying to you today through this word or phrase, allow yourself to respond. This may be as simple as an inner “thank you” or an intention to express the wisdom you have gleaned in your life today. Or you may feel a need to pour out feelings that have been stirred in your time of reflection. Do not censor yourself but, like the psalmists of old, let yourself express whatever has arisen in you – whether gratitude, wonder, hope, joy, or anger, grief, shame or fear. Express your response however you are moved to: speak it, write it, pray it, dance it, draw it, sing it. Ask Spirit, or the universe, for further illumination or guidance, for strength or courage to translate what you have discovered into action in your life. Open yourself to feeling fully listened to and heard by Spirit, by the universe, by life.
Now allow yourself to enter a time of stillness and silence – a time of letting go, of releasing agendas and control, and of simply resting in and with Spirit. Don’t look for any particular kind of experience during this time; simply surrender and offer yourself to life, trusting that whatever transformation and healing you need is being done in and for and through you as you rest and allow. Try to spend at least 5 minutes in this receptive silence, more if possible.
Gently return your awareness to your physical surroundings and prepare to re-enter your daily life in the world. Spend a moment in gratitude for whatever you have received in this time of practice, and for the blessings in your life. You may want to end your time of practice with this affirmation and breath-prayer, based on this quote from Dag Hammarkjöld.
For all that has been – thanks! For all that will be – yes!
– Dag Hammarkjöld
Breathing in: “Thanks”
Breathing out: “Yes”