Only lately I’ve been reminded how crucial right thought is to right speech and deed. It’s not enough to hold words of anger in my heart and mind if I hope to live in a peaceful, positive world. Writing prayer that resonates with me personally is one way I’ve found to hold right thought and spread peace.
In One-Minute Mindfulness, Donald Altman writes, “The old adage ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,’ is false, even in brain science. For example, recent studies show that verbal abuse is both psychologically damaging–increasing the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and anger–and damaging to the brain.”
We program our brains and world with our inner words. Gandhi wrote, “There is nothing more potent than thought–deed follows word and word follows thought.” Although a deed once done cannot be changed, our thoughts can be changed. They can be nudged over to the positive inch by inch. I love this saying of Mark Twain’s: “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” So can our thoughts, as we make ourselves aware of their inherent violence or anger, be coaxed toward peace one word at a time.
I found this small sampling of prayers that already exist to encourage peaceful thought.
“I earnestly wish that the wind will soon blow away all the clouds hanging over the tops of the mountains.” — Shinto peace prayer
“Deep peace of the Son of peace to you.” — Celtic peace prayer
“Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect, and to be kind to each other so that they may grow with peace of mind.” — Native American peace prayer
“Live in joy,
even among the troubled.
Free from fear and attachment,
know the sweet joy of the way.”
“Better is bread when the mind is at ease.” — Egyptian proverb
And, never to forget the peace to be found in nature:
“Keep close to Nature’s heart, yourself; and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods . . . It will help you in your efforts to bring to these people something better than gold.” — John Muir
Today I’m reaching for the words of an original peace prayer, or many peace prayers, inspired by those above. Here is one–what are yours?
Deep peace of the mountains and streams to you.
Deep joy be yours, with your mind at ease.
Bright days be yours and the company of trees.
Deep peace of the earth and sky to you.