The Counter-intuitive Welcoming Prayer
The welcoming prayer is the most effective prayer I’ve yet to encounter that helps me release unwanted emotions.
The following is from the Lux Divina list of the online contemplative community referenced in my book . Writer anonymous shares:
“What I know comes from Cynthia Bourgeault’s book Centering Prayer
and Inner Awakening which I highly recommend. She has a whole chapter on the Welcoming Prayer that is very helpful. Here’s a brief summary.
“When confronted with a powerful emotion, follow these three steps. Don’t try to rush through them too quickly:
1. Focus and Sink In
3. Let Go
The Real Work is in the First Two Steps
“Focus and sink in is to feel the emotion as a sensation in your body. If
you are angry, how does that anger feel within you? A tightness in the chest
or jaw? A clenched fist? Heat rising up your face? Don’t try to do anything
with the feeling except stay present to and aware of it. The importance of this
step is that it keeps you from the pitfall of dissociation or repression. You
have owned and held the awareness of your feeling.
“When you are ready, you gently move to the next step which is the
counterintuitive one, to welcome the emotion. In the midst of the emotion you say to yourself,
“Welcome anger…or fear…or pain…” whatever it is that you are feeling. The point of this step is that by creating an atmosphere of inner hospitality you disarm the emotion’s power to hurt or control you. It just is. An
important point of clarification she makes here is that the welcome is for the
physical or psychological content of the moment only, not a blanket condoning
of a situation. For example, a person who has been abused is not welcoming
abuse, but rather the feelings the abuse created within them, what is on their
emotional plate right now. Or a person who has cancer is not welcoming cancer,
but the fear that having cancer has created within them.
The Third Step of the Welcoming Prayer: Letting Go
“The real work of welcoming is accomplished in these first two steps, so
don’t be in a hurry to move to the third too soon. Stay with them and let them
do their work, just as you might knead a tight muscle until it relaxed and
released. When you are ready to let go you can do it very simply or in a more
complex way. The first way is to simply say, “I let go of my anger (or whatever
the emotion was).” Or if you prefer, “I give my anger to God.”
“The longer way was developed and preferred by Mary Mrozowski, the
founding genius behind the Welcoming Prayer. She preferred the following litany:
I let go of my desire for security and survival.
I let go of my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire to change the situation.
“Simple…but not easy. Episcopal priest and author, Cynthia Bourgeault, says if we do this “Christ will storm
the hell in you…” That’s a bit strong, I know, but sometimes, that’s exactly what we need since we cannot seem to release a particular emotion on our own.
For more on the welcoming prayer, click here.