For a year or so, prayer has been a part of my yoga practice. It started when Honey, my grandpa, had hip replacement surgery at the ripe age of 100. On the morning of his surgery, I was really worried and “Our Father” just came out over and over again. I needed comfort and a way of connecting not only to a higher power, but to all the power that comes from so many people praying the same prayer over such a long period of time. On that day and going forward, the prayer was there, available and meaningful to me in a way it wasn’t before.
It’s really cool to reflect on the same thing every day. The yogic sage, Patañjali, valued this experience and called it saṃyama. In the book, The Heart of Yoga, Mr. Desikachar says, “The true goal of saṃyama is to concentrate on one object and to investigate it until we know everything about it.” I can see that as I change, the meaning of each line of the prayer changes for me. As I continue to reflect, there’s a wide-ness to how what I understand about the meaning. I agree with Patañjali. Knowing everything about something takes time.
For a few months now, I’ve taken time with the line, give us this day our daily bread. When I say these words, I think about how every day, my basic needs are and have been met. The prayer reminds me that I’m not asking to be set up for the rest of my life but just for today. And today, I have food, clean water, and shelter and a whole lot more. I also remember that, really, everything that I have, everything that sustains my life, has been given to me. These thoughts are so humbling and stir up big feelings of gratitude. It’s not a bad way to start the day.
Today, another wonderful gift came with this phrase. As I repeated it right there between, on earth as it is in heaven, and forgive us our trespasses, I thought about daily bread as something that I, too, offer. Daily bread came to mean the things that I do in service and in offering, or really anything that I do in a day. For the first time, I had such relief in knowing that whatever I do in a given day is enough. It’s just right. I don’t have to strive or beat myself up for failing to tick off my entire to do list. I don’t have to be concerned that I might be ruining my children’s summer/childhood by working during the weekdays. I can do what I do and trust that it is just the right amount for this day. With this new knowing, I felt such peace.