Category Archives: Prayers and Affirmations

The Inner Cosmic Light

Composite Image of NGC 5189 Courtesy of Robert Gendler

Our bodies, a carriage

Our lifetime, a crust

Afloat on the tide that lifts all vessels

expanding in all directions


We are stardust

mud-caked suns pulsing with atomic heartbeat

Radiating outward in all directions, through every opening, plate or fissure,

our light — the light that connects — unfolds in waves


I am Pangaea

I am the Omega

I am a quantum field

I am of this world

I am its co-creator


Nested Recapitulation (aka The “Russian Dolls” Meditation)


The Nesting Process (a.k.a “Russian Dolls”) is a self-help meditation tool used for shadow work — a shamanic practice that is based on the process of recapitulation popularized by Carlos Castaneda as well as the “3-2-1 Process,” found in the book Integral Life Practice by Ken Wilber and Terry Patten. It should not be confused with the “nesting instinct” found in new mothers.

The ideal time of day to run the Nesting Process is immediately after you wake, but before you get out of bed. However, it may be used anytime.

In metaphysical Christianity (most specifically, the New Thought movement), we are told that through meditation and prayer — and through the use of denials and affirmations — we are able to remove false obstacles in our psyche or soul. By clearing the falsely perceived thought or mental structure, we are removing the object that is casting the shadow, and we are, in effect, removing any real or perceived blockage. This method has been known to remove actual physiological blocks, returning blood flow and life force (prana) to arteries and arthritic (or otherwise afflicted) limbs. At the very least, the method allows for light and energy to flow into the unillumined corners of the soul and restore us to a more perfect and harmonious state.

Through centering prayer and shadow process (psychotherapy), we align our gross (physical), subtle (mental/psychic) and causal (non-dual) bodies — also known in Hinduism as the five “Koshas” — like the concentric rings of a tree. They can be visualized as the layers of an onion, or as a wetsuit inside a wetsuit. And as such, when the layers are perfectly nested and in line with each other — with no fabric caught in the zipper or proverbial peas hidden between the mattresses — we have increased mobility, we are flexible and reflexive, we are at ease.

We begin the Nesting Meditation by lying flat on our back, arms outstretched. Visualize the line across your chest (from fingertip to fingertip), as a symbol of all human limitation. Visualize the line from your feet to the top of your head as the poles of a battery. Imagine energy pouring out from the top of your skull, cascading back down toward your feet, and being reabsorbed in an endless cycle.

We initiate the process by saying, “I deny the limitations of this body.” Continue reading

The Sermon on the Mount (of Intrareligious Dialogue)

“Religion is not an experiment, it is an experience of life through which one is part of the cosmic adventure” – Raimon Panikkar

Thanks to Jan Magray for sending this our way. Enjoy.


The Sermon on the Mount of Intrareligious Dialogue
by Raimon Panikkar (from Bulletin 27, October 1986)

When you enter into an intrareligious dialogue, do not think beforehand what you have to believe.

When you witness to your faith, do not defend yourself or your vested interests, sacred as they may appear to you. Do like the birds in the skies: they sing and fly and do not defend their music or their beauty.

When you dialogue with somebody, look at your partner as a revelatory experience as you would — and should — look at the lilies in the fields.

When you engage in intrareligious dialogue, try first to remove the beam in your own eye before removing the speck in the eye of your neighbor.

Blessed are you when you do not feel self-sufficient while being in dialogue.

Blessed are you when you trust the other because you trust in Me.

Blessed are you when you face misunderstandings from your own community or others for the sake of your fidelity to Truth.

Blessed are you when you do not give up your convictions, and yet you do not set them up as absolute norms.

Woe unto you, you theologians and academicians, when you dismiss what others say because you find it embarrassing or not sufficiently learned.

Woe unto you, you practitioners of religions, when you do not listen to the cries of the little ones.

Woe unto you, you religious authorities, because you prevent change and (re) conversion.

Woe unto you, you religious people, because you monopolize religion and stifle the Spirit which blows where and how she wills.

Morning Affirmation


I Am ________________

I Am a healer
I Am a change agent
I Am a force for good

I Am in the right place at the right time
And when my work is done, I move on

I Am Spirit, and I surrender to Spirit-in-Action
And the unfolding of cosmic consciousness
Within and without

* When we say, “I Am __________,” we are saying, “God is ___________ through me.” If you find it helpful, you can recite your morning affirmation to yourself in the mirror. Morning affirmations are usually followed by the Integral Prayer.

An Integral Prayer


May my consciousness and my behavior

be of benefit to all beings in all places,

liberating all into the reality

of this and every moment.

– modified from Integral Life Practice by Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard and Marco Morelli

A Simple Prayer – St. Francis of Assisi


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console
to be understood, as to understand
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Father’s Day


Today, I honor the man who chose to show up and be present in my life

The disruptive warrior and the impulsive comedian

The wise magician and the silent teacher

The man who showed me how to pick myself up

The man who taught me how to set firm boundaries, and later how to move them

The man who admitted when he made a mistake

The man who told me I was good enough

The man who led by example

Thank you, Dad

I love you

Happy Father’s Day

Real Words with Real Friends

We recently gathered in a downtown St. Petersburg park for our first-ever Sunday Service. We were just coming off of our recent week-long Media Cleanse, so among other things, we talked about digital mindfulness and staying authentically connected to real people. Here’s a re-cap of what was presented.

Photo by Erica Marshall

This week, during the media cleanse, I ran into a fellow parent at school who asked me how it was going.

I told her it was going well, that we were not spending so much time on Facebook, and that my family was sitting down for meals and discovering more creative (and productive) ways to spend our time.

She told me that she had never spent much time on Facebook or Twitter, and that she’s never much been tempted by her computer as she spends most of her day trapped behind one at work. However, there was one thing she was definitely “addicted” to, and that was the Scrabble-inspired gaming app, Words with Friends.

As I drove to work in the deafening silence of the cleanse (my phone was in the backseat as I had chosen to eliminate iTunes and any music-streaming apps), I thought about what our friend had told me.

She was “addicted.”

While the newest gadget in the latest color might very well be a status symbol, it’s not our devices and screens that we’re addicted to. Owning the hardware might make us feel self-important, but it’s our interaction with the software that makes us feel good. Games like “Words with Friends” or “Draw Something” (the recent Pictionary knock-off) reward players with jangly sounds and bright colors when a goal is attained.

The reward center in your brain releases euphoria- and trust-inducing chemicals every time you are showered with a fountain of 8-bit golden coins, or are told that “you’ve got mail,” or that someone wants be your friend. And we all get excited when we see that little red notification that indicates someone either likes you or something you’ve said.

But, where are these reward centers being stimulated in real life?

Do you feel rewarded by receiving or spending money? How about when a plate of food is placed in front of you, or when you finish your meal? Are you rewarded by serving others, by sexual climax or by recognizing beauty in your environment or the faces of those around you?

How much of your behavior is controlled by these rewards, and are you listening to your body (“my stomach is full”) or your reward center (“I’d better clean my plate”) when you make important decisions?

What about our relationships? How many have we entered into because we expect or are seeking a reward? And conversely, do we withhold openness and trust in some relationships because we fear betrayal or abandonment? Was there ever a time that love was showered on us, only for it to be taken away?

Where did we learn to protect ourselves in this way? When were those circuits wired into our brain? And how different would our lives be if we relied not on other people, but on ourselves, to provide those rewards?

What if we looked at ourselves in the mirror every morning and affirmed that we are whole, and that we are strong? That we are beautiful, perfect manifestations of Spirit? What if all our friends did the same? Our neighbors? Our social network?

Coming off the social media cleanse, it’s important to be aware of the distinction between your network and your community. And it’s important to be aware of toxicity levels in both. Your network may have originally been seeded by actual friends – people you know well and see often. But, it’s inevitably grown to include coworkers, acquaintances, and distant family members who may choke your news feed with negativity, emotional triggers, or inflammatory political and religious opinions.

You will need to decide what to keep (“I affirm this for myself”) and what to discard (“I deny that this person or idea has power over me.”). If it’s toxic, and there is no saving it, or it’s simply distracting, consider pulling it like a weed. It shouldn’t matter if this person is related by blood. Hide their posts or unfriend them. You can still see them at Thanksgiving, give them a big hug and tell them how much you love them and hold the best possible things for them. If the relationship has promise, manage it as you would a sickly branch. Prop a stick under it or truss it up with some rope by sending them a private message or better yet, picking up the phone.

Our purpose should be to tend to our (virtual) social networks and our (tangible) communities as we would a garden, cultivating real friends and relationships as we would grow real food – the kind we would put on our dinner table to feed our families.

Furthermore, let’s continue to be mindful and create meaning around our everyday activities. This practice is what deepens our relationship to Spirit-in-Action. We can choose to sit with our families and eat passively in front of the TV or we can choose to sit around a dining table, facing each other, sharing in conversation and laughter, and say a blessing before each meal. Showing gratitude for the food itself – and the hands that harvested and prepared it – is simple (“Thank you for this meal” is good enough).

We can choose to gather in the park, letting the kids play for a bit while we fiddle with our phones, and then say goodbye. Or we can choose to picnic in the park to share a meal and a story, to establish connections of trust and open communication with our friends, family and tribe.

The former is good enough. The latter is the best that we can do.

A Universal Prayer by Yogananda



I Worship God Everywhere

I bow to the one infinite Father, differently manifesting in the many churches and temples that have been erected in His honor. I worship the one God resting on the various altars of different teachings and religious faiths.

Today I will worship God in deep silence and wait to hear Her answer through my increasing peace of meditation.

I will mingle my inner devotional whispers with the prayers of all saints, and continuously offer them in the temples of silence and activity until I can hear His whispers loudly, everywhere.

This day shall be the best day of my life. Today I will start with a new determination to dedicate my devotion forever at the feet of Omnipresence.

– Paramahansa Yogananda
(from Metaphysical Meditations)

A Spiritual Internship: My Journey as a Chaplain

Joran Slane Oppelt - Chaplain

Last weekend, I committed to a year-long chaplaincy at a local church.

For those that are unfamiliar, the purpose of a chaplain is to hold sacred space alongside the pastor, minister or spiritual leader – by assisting with prayer and/or meditation requests, making calls on the members of the congregation, and attending regular group meetings.

It’s basically a spiritual internship, with rounds to make and hours to satisfy, but primarily it’s an opportunity to develop my skills as a compassionate listener, and continue to hone my chops as a reverend and as a shaman. It’s truly a responsibility that I was honored to take on, and the inner rewards are many.

In the weeks leading up to the retreat, we had been advised to re-focus our efforts toward self-care, as it’s difficult to lead and open yourself to others when you haven’t done the work yourself. I had been dealing with some personal shadow work and some issues around “letting go.” Meditating on what it meant to lead and be led, and on how my roles as musician, father, marketer, husband, reverend, son, etc. all fit together.

The weekend-long retreat took place on the church property, located in St. Petersburg, and I was joined by 23 others who were drawn to the chaplaincy for various reasons, or were renewing their annual commitment (one woman was going on her 7th year). We were told the theme for this year’s retreat was “angels,” and I tried not to visibly roll my eyes. After all, I told myself, “angel” is just another word for a guiding energy from the bardo (or causal) realm, and I would surely be safe from any metaphysical mumbo jumbo as long as I interpreted my experience from a pragmatic (read: integral) perspective and listened from the compassionate centers of the heart.

It started off simple enough, with a lot of sharing and getting to know one another over communal meals and team-building activities. But on the second day, it started to become clear that I was truly in the right place at the right time.

As we were fully immersed in three hours of silence, taking turns in the labyrinth and in a sanctuary filled with musical instruments, we all drew Archangel Cards and were sent to the rose garden to write in our journals. I’m not sure what anyone else drew, but I drew a card labeled “Victory,” marked by the Archangel Sandalphon. Sandalphon is one of two angels (the other being Metatron) that, according to legend, started life as a mortal man and was allowed access to archangeldom for his numerous good deeds on Earth. Sandalphon’s chief purpose was to gather up the prayers of humans and send them as a glowing orb of white light to God.

“Victory,” I thought. Victory, indeed.

Not only am I blessed with a loving wife and family, but the serendipity of things continues to reveal itself to me in unexpected ways. Cards like the one I drew seemed less random when I realized that my path wasn’t so much a road, but a new mode of being. A state of perpetual insight and intuition, and also a stage of development that is tuned to the highest ethical ideals, the highest and most inclusive forms of consciousness. In other words, this new way of looking at the world is recognizing that you are an expression of Divine energy. That when you reflect on the Cosmos, you are staring at the best and most beautiful parts of yourself.

Not only was I tapping into the unfolding of cosmic consciousness – of which our own unfolding is but a small part – but I was learning to articulate these states and stages in the language of the heart. Continue reading