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The Welcoming Prayer — Day 22 of 40 Days of Listening

(Photo credit: Mike Rusert, a Madonna icon at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel)

Day 22 — The Welcoming Prayer

To welcome and to let go is one of the most radically loving, faith-filled gestures we can make in each moment of the day. It is an open-hearted embrace of all that is in ourselves and in the world.

— Mary Mrozowski (Contemplative Christian Teacher, 1926–1993)

There are tools, ancient and modern, that have helped humans travel through the wilderness of suffering, uncertainty and possibility.

As mentioned in Day 21 — on the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism — practicing awareness and acceptance of the stories and experiences going on in our minds and bodies is an important starting place.

There is a tool — a prayer practice from the contemplative Christian tradition — that is designed to, as Fr. Thomas Keating says, “dismantle the emotional programs of the false self.” (i.e., The ego-self that is driven by fear — reactionary, defensive, relying on coping mechanisms, etc. It is the self that is driven by a exaggerated needs in regards to safety and security, affection and esteem, and power and control.)

The practice is called the Welcoming Prayer. It was developed by Mary Mrozowski, a founder of Contemplative Outreach and student and friend of Keating. Mrozowski understood that our bodies carry within them the memories and wounds from our past — traumas which, if unaddressed, will continue to fuel our false self.

Here’s the three basic movements of the practice:

1. Be in you body. Begin with a brief body scan. Feel and sink into what you are feeling in your body in that moment. If there are tense spaces or pains, allow yourself to feel what you are experiencing.

2. Welcome. Silently, speak welcome to what you are experiencing in your body at that moment, and allow that welcome to be consent to your higher power to be present, caring and at work within.

3. Let go. Just as you welcome, you also let go. Say, “I let go of my desire for security, affection and control, and I embrace this moment as it is.”

Try it out today, this weekend and the coming weeks. “Welcome” can become for you a mantra that serves freedom. It can help you grow your ability to be present, creative and compassionate with the moment.

Welcome. This tightness I’m carrying in my neck and shoulders as I dwell on unknowns and worries. Welcome. I let go of my desire for security, affection and control. I embrace this moment as it is.

Welcome. This ache behind my eyes, as I work tirelessly through instability. Welcome. I let go of my desire for security, affection and control. I embrace this moment as it is.

Welcome. This increased heartbeat and constricted chest and fists, as I feel anger, frustration and confusion surge through me. Welcome. I let go of my desire for security, affection and control. I embrace this moment as it is.

Welcome.

For more information and supports for Welcoming Prayer practice visit https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/welcoming-prayer and here in Minnesota, connect with Minnesota Contemplative Outreach.

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