I have a bit of a routine in the mornings after I feed the critters. It always begins with meditation, then a period of self inquiry and contemplation. Lately I’ve been noticing that during my self inquiry there are a lot of teary type emotions. I’m concerned and sad about the events of the day. A peer shared that whenever another mass shooting happens, he goes into a period of reflection, rather than immediately reacting. That seemed like a good idea to me, so I did that. And I came up with a couple of ideas that I am still kicking around, as to how I want to respond, but in the meantime, I wanted to discuss this thoughts and prayers thing. Yeah, people are tired of it. As they should be. But I want to propose that perhaps it isn’t the thoughts and prayers that we are tired of, but the ways in which we think and pray. Sending thoughts and prayers is really just a bandaid, designed to temporarily make the person sending them feel better in a horrible situation. The problem is, like most bandaids, they only work for a little while and do little to address true healing. I believe that if we keep thinking in the ways we have always thought, we will keep getting what we’ve been getting. We need to change our thinking, both as individuals and in society as a whole. And I believe prayer is something entirely different than asking for something from something outside of ourselves, in other words a beseeching to an outside entity, and when viewed the way I am going to propose, this type of prayer can lead to healing and action, which is what is needed. So, prayer, I propose, is not a beseeching to an outside entity. I believe in, and teach, New Thought, which teaches that prayer changes the mind of the one doing the praying, and that if we can change our thinking, we change our lives. This. This is what thoughts and prayers are about, or could be about. Prayers are affirmations, not asks. Furthermore, they are never directed outward. In other words, I don’t pray to crystals and candles, the great spirit out there, the guy in the sky, the universe or any other outside thing. Yes, I love my candles. I use them a lot to set the tone for things, or change the ambiance of a room. I almost always have a rock in my pocket because they remind me of wonderful things. But I never think that rock, crystal or candle or universe or great spirit or universe is going to do something because I ask it. That is not what prayer is for. Prayer is me affirming that I change my thinking so that I can better deal with what life is presenting to me. Because that is really, in the overall scheme of things, the only thing I can change. Once I change that, then I can venture out into the world and take action in the areas in which I wish to take action. Whether it is to work to educate people about racism and misogyny or host a talking circle or do a workshop or a retreat. Life happens from the inside out, always. So I go within first, get in touch with what I am really feeling on any given day and proceed from there. Sometimes I need to allow the sadness, the grief, the anger. We cannot go into spiritual bypass with that stuff, for it gets locked up inside and festers and then pops out in inelegant and sometimes ugly ways. But I’ve learned those kinds of feelings will not kill me. Once I am through those feelings, then I can inquire of myself, asking what in my thinking wants or needs to be different so that I can live even more successfully than I already do? And I always have to add this, because for some strange reason when I’m speaking to people about this, 99% of the time they go to a place of shame behind what was. No. What was worked, there is nothing wrong with it. But life is always for expansion and growth, and the only way we can do that is to change our thinking. No shame, no blame, just ever expanding and changing thinking to accommodate life’s desire to be more. So, prayer changes the mind of the one doing the praying. Today I joyfully affirm that I am always using life’s events to go within and change my thinking in the ways that result in my expansion. And I affirm that for you too.