One of my favorite prayers is actually not a prayer, well, not what most of you would think was a prayer. It’s what is called a gathas, which I learned years ago when I became a student of Thich Nhat Hanh, a wise Vietnamese Monk who has made a huge difference in my life.
The words are simple and easy to remember, as easy to remember as “Now I lay me down to sleep. . . ” that we all remember learning as children.
I have arrived
I am home
In the here and
in the now
I am solid
I am free
In the ultimate I dwell
There is a translation of the gatha in the book “I have arrived, I am home: Celebrating Twenty Years of Plum Village Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh. There is also some simple sheet music and if I am not mistaken, there are a number of recordings of the gatha being sung on YouTube.
But, I have no singing voice despite being in choir as a child for 5 years so I use the gatha as a chant, with or without a mala. Gathas, like mantras, can be powerful in helping a person deal with anxiety or panic. Like affirmations, reciting a gatha (or a mantra) helps to focus your mind, fill your mind with positive thoughts, and help snuff out negative, self-limiting, harmful, or unhealthy thoughts. They are also helpful when dealing with pain or disease like cancer (or coping with treatment).
This prayer reminds me of so many things. First and foremost, I’m whole and right just as I am. Every present moment is perfect and for a reason. I haven’t always believed that but I think I do again. If I don’t believe it, it is a belief I want to have. If not, what’s the purpose? I tried to be an existentialist and all I found is a lot of angst. Instead, I choose to see the world from this point of view and believe there is meaning and purpose in the way things are.
When I was first introduced to this prayer, I cried and cried as I recited it because I felt so far from home. I had moved away from my home state and felt like a stranger in a strange land. I longed for the sun and seashore and felt so land-locked in the horridly flat and scorched plains I found myself living in.
But then I realized that it wasn’t about my home, my birthplace, and the millions of street corners and houses or sea shells I had left behind. It wasn’t even about the people who I had loved when I lived there and the souls who had left me before I left. It was about me and that I could be at home with myself, in myself, and that I could find solid footing anywhere my seat was.
And over time and because of circumstances, my chronic pain and other things I’ve written about in other posts, I got away from the practice of either chanting this gathas or taking time throughout the year to write about what this gatha means to me. And that’s the great thing about gathas. . . each time you sit with them, well, over time, they come to mean different things. They seem to unleash their wisdom in the moment, where you are in your life. They are kind of like tarot cards in that they give you something to think about, something to reflect on and in return, they act as a mirror for what your interior experience is at any given time.
So I invite you, to sit with paper and pen, on your favorite chair or meditation cushion, in your car before you walk in from your day at work or when you take your lunch down to the river. . . and allow these words to fall over you like a warm mist. Let them sink into your pores like a thick rich moisturizer and let your body and soul drink in the nourishment. Allow the words to take their time and do their job. There is no right or wrong way for you to relate to the words and perhaps they mean little to you, though, if you are reading this blog, even by chance, I know that the words will hold a special magic or a message for your soul.
Please share your thoughts, feelings, or comments about this gathas or share other prayers or sayings that touch you and give you pause to reflect.
Until the next time,
May your pen and paper be the vehicles for great freedom. May your soul feel nurtured and cared for.
May you have time in your busy-ness to reflect and ponder.
May you remember to raise your eyes from your computer or phone screen and see what’s in front of you with soft eyes.
May you be at ease and free from suffering.
May you be surrounded in light and warmth or any other conditions that soothe your spirit.
May you be at peace or any other state that is congruent to your healing.