By Ross Bishop
You’ve read about gratitude – it’s big on the coaching circuit these days. But blessing takes things to a whole other dimension. The Bible tells us that the first thing God did after creating Adam and Eve was to bless them. (Genesis 1:28) And in that same way, we are all indeed blessed:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace. Numbers 6:22-27
We (sometimes) express our thanks for that blessing through our gratitude. Gratitude for life, for nature, for friends, family, etc. But gratitude in its essence is somewhat narcissistic,
“Thank you for all that I have received.”
There comes a point in your spiritual development where you move from focusing on your own healing to helping others. You reach a place where you see others struggling on the path as you have, and your compassion goes out to them. You’ve been there and you know what it feels like.
You wouldn’t take their struggle away for anything, but you do want to lend them your love and support. This is where the concept of blessing becomes important. Pierre Pradervand has been a long-time advocate of blessing. He defines it as:
To bless means to wish, unconditionally and from the deepest chamber of your heart, unrestricted good for others and events; it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. He who is hallowed by your blessing is set aside, consecrated, holy, whole. To bless is to invoke divine care upon, to speak or think gratefully for, to confer happiness upon, although we ourselves are never the bestower but simply the joyful witnesses of life’s abundance.
In its deepest meaning, blessing means understanding and rejoicing that the person or being we are blessing is in a state of grace, of total freedom and innocence in the presences of its Creator, even if they don’t see it.
Blessing draws out sincere, benevolent, wishes from your heart and sends them out. Blessing is an attitude of deep reverence that is shared at an emotional and psychic level, rather than words, which can tend to become intellectualized. To bless is to acknowledge the omnipresent, universal beauty hidden from material eyes. The surface effect is to help others, but as you will see, it is really the next stage in your own development.
Hans Memling, Christ Blessing (ca. 1480–85
Most of us hold judgments and resentments. We have issues with former lovers, business partners, bosses, parents, siblings, etc. As long as you live in a space where you can be hurt, you need those resentments. They offer a sense of protection by setting boundaries you are not yet comfortable to set yourself. Regrets are another way of staying stuck in the soup and not taking in the lesson. But clinging to resentments or regrets restricts your development. Being attached to beliefs is an expression of the inability, or unwillingness, to deal with your fears and anxieties.
The natural progression of spiritual development is to begin to question your beliefs, especially the ones you hold about yourself. Eventually you reach a point where you realize that you and the people you hold resentments toward were locked in a mutual dance to give each of you the opportunity to resolve your beliefs. Otherwise there would have been no conflict, no issue! And keep in mind, these are the things you came to earth to resolve!
You are still not going to like what happened, or feel some remorse, after all it was an unpleasant experience, but you can also begin to see the larger purpose driving these events. And that allows you, once you have sufficiently healed, the freedom to bless these people for the opportunity to grow and to dump the self-induced toxicity of these situations and free yourself from the emotional burdens you have been carrying.
Guru Purnima blessings from Swamiji
When you engage in a practice of active blessing, you find that it is also a wonderful way to develop a constantly centered awareness. Holding your spiritual center frees you from things like negativity, criticism and judgment. Pierre writes:
When you bless all those you meet in their total happiness and true integrity, without the slightest concern for their appearance, expression, race, class, sex or any other label, when you wish them the very best from your innermost being, it is impossible for your heart not to expand. From a narrow cubicle, it will become a temple without walls.
When you begin the practice of blessing it starts out as an act of will. You sit down, take a few minutes and actively bless both the people you love and those you have issues with (especially them) and the other things you are grateful for. When I began, I made a list of all the significant people and things in my life. I went through that list morning and evening, blessing everyone, pausing longer for those who seemed in need of special blessings that day.
What inevitably happens is that your blessings move from a twice-a-day practice to a constant and ongoing yearning of your heart. You find yourself blessing everyone . . . It is truly a remarkable process! Blessing does indeed help others, but the real benefit is the opening of your heart, and that is simply remarkable.
When you wake, before you even get out of bed, bless the day as a gift, full of unrevealed potential. As you rise, bless the sun for it’s warmth and light and the air for it’s gift of life. Bless your food for giving you the strength to do your (and God's) work.
As you pass people in the street, on the bus, in their cars, in stores and at work, bless them. The peace of your blessing will accompany them on their way and its aura will be a light on their path.
When you meet people, bless them in every conceivable way – for their health, their work, their joy, their relationship to the universe. Such blessings not only sow seeds of healing but one day will spring forth as flowers in the dark corners of your own consciousness.
Bless the teachers, firefighters, nurses, policemen, the EMT’s in your community. Bless the children, bakers, bankers, plumbers, thieves, priests and prostitutes. Bless the cashiers, waitresses and clerks who serve you, bless the garbage man and the paper boy. Even bless the neighbor’s barking dog.
The moment someone expresses the least aggression or unkindness to you, respond with a blessing. Bless them totally, sincerely and joyfully. This cannot be artificial if it is to work. The blessing is a shield that protects them from the ignorance of their own mindlessness and deflects the arrow that was aimed at you.
When something goes completely askew in your day, when some unexpected event upsets your plans – and perhaps upsets you – bless them or it. Life is teaching you a lesson and the event you believe to be unwanted, you yourself have called forth.
This was a milestone in enabling me to feel (not to know or believe, but really to feel) that truly, there was a perfect plan for my life. That whatever happened to me would always be in my best interest, so long as my life stayed rooted in total sincerity and the integrity of my being. It meant giving up attempts to control and manage things, but those were illusions anyway.
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2015