After nearly a week of heat, we had an unexpected and uncalled for day of respite where I live. I awoke expecting to see blazing hot sun – instead, dark clouds and a cool breeze smelling of rains to come. My morning yoga routine under my favourite tree was a cool, comfortable session, and I decided it would be a good day to shop the various second hand clothing and Salvation Army-style stores in our small downtown core.
By the time I left my small residence, the rain promised on the wind had arrived with a gentle greeting and accompanied me on most of my shopping journey. I live as austere a life as possible, but do allow myself the pleasure of hunting good Hawaiian shirts for which I have a definite passion. During the summer months, the brightly coloured and often unbearably loud shirts bring smiles, laughter, and excuses for conversation no matter where I go. I am always smiling when wearing these shirts; the bright flowers remind me of staying close to nature and I have had everything from humming birds to Monarch butterflies coming to perch for awhile during my afternoon outdoor meditation sessions.
Singing in the rain
On this day and as often as I remember before laying shoe to pavement, I remind myself that The Infinite goes before me and lingers after me on all of my travels and interactions with others. As I walk, I take in all of my surroundings in awareness that all I see is part of that same Infinite Consciousness, and that every encounter I have with someone is an encounter with another expression of God itself. I will also pray or meditate briefly, setting my intention or desire I wish to achieve on my journey and then releasing any further thought or worry about its fulfillment. In this way, I am left free to sit back and relax, comfortable in the knowledge that any needs I have or questions I need answered have already been fulfilled and will become apparent in my life at just the right time.
Pray, pray, pray
All over our world, we see billions of people praying to a deity or creator (notice little ‘c’) that exists outside of ourselves; somewhere out there beyond our reach in places with names such as Heaven, Valhalla, or Kingdom in the Sky. People pray for loved ones to be healed, money, health – anything you can think of and I will guarantee it has been prayed for at one time or another in our history. While it is certainly true that an intense belief in healing can produce results, and needs may appear to be fulfilled momentarily, prayer in this manner rarely brings the results we had hoped for. We tend to swing between joy and happiness at seeing our prayer fulfilled, and despair and sadness when it appears we have not been answered or ignored.
True prayer, as Yogic practitioners and so many others in the East have realized for thousands of years, has only one goal; a direct connection between your conscious perception of your Self and the Infinite Spirit that is within you and of which you are an expression of. Clouded by our misconceptions about our own identities, we fail to realize that any lack, loss of health, or seemingly negative change in our lives can only arise from our own conscious mind. The bible says it very poignantly in Luke…
And he said unto his disciples; Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Religious bias removed, we should understand that all things that we need as part of The Infinite are naturally and effortlessly provided for. The only true prayer is meditating on The Infinite itself, our own true identity as relates to The Infinite, and reflection on spiritual texts from which we gather surety in our early stages of spiritual development. Through prayer and meditation, our only goal should be to know the Infinite within us, to allow God to guide our footsteps and to free ourselves from the illusion we are separate from The Infinite Consciousness in any fashion
Realize the Divine
In sickness or disease, we often will pray to be healed. These prayers are often directed skyward, imploring God to heal us in some way. Pray instead that you come to realize The Infinite within you. This is the true source and power that expresses itself as you – your true infinite self. Meditate and allow your mind to go quiet, and the voice of God which is in you as the Word made flesh will speak to your heart. Through communion with our spirit, which is a part of the greater whole of The Infinite, we see past the illusions of our physical existence and find the answers we need, including physical, emotional and mental healing.
Yoga is a fantastic way for you to experience communion and prayer first with your body and your mind, and eventually the spirit. Simply set your intention on a still mind and mentally “listen.” Within time, the silence obtained reveals a higher reality. Think of it like this; our own interpretation of The Infinite’s creation we call Earth is based on our misconception we are human beings instead of Infinite Spirit. The beauty we see in our world which takes our breath away cannot be compared with the beauty of the spiritual reality of God’s true creation…
Back to my walk downtown in the rain…As I had said previously, I prayed before leaving. I gave the happy hope of finding a cheap Hawaiian shirt to my inner self, prayed I would see the presence of The Infinite, and that I may somehow enrich someone’s life. The rain was cool and refreshing, and the journey and smiles I was able to share were well worth it, but the stores proved unfruitful until I reached the final one. It is my favourite store, but for some strange reason I always tend to misplace it in the streets. Looking for it usually means circling four or five blocks, with still no store in sight. The moment I give up on it, I always run into it.
This time I ran into it by accident on my journey homeward. The minute I walked into the store I could see it, like a light glaring in the distance. Bright red, with yellow flowers and green fronds…and my size! The shirt was in mint condition. I looked at the price tag and was pleased to see it was only a dollar. Even more pleased at the till when I found out it was fifty percent off.
Finally, we arrive where we began, with the funny if strange title for an article. You see, every time I have put that shirt on since then, I find myself singing Sunshine and Lollipops over and over again in my head. We have all had it; it is called “getting a song stuck in your head.” The funny thing about this is that if I take the shirt off, the inclination to sing this song in my head disappears completely.
I like the shirt. It reminds me that we were given sunshine and lollipops and are supposed to live out our lives in ecstatic joyful communion with The Infinite, fully aware of our own divinity. We can realize this again through true prayer and meditation; looking inward to our own divinity and The Infinite itself. Did I mention I really, really like the shirt?
¯Sunshine and lollipops and rainbows for free….¯