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Chocolate Silk Mousse for Your Mind
I often think of healing physical and emotional wounds. I rarely think of healing my thoughts. I have often needed to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, something much simpler to say than do, despite years of practice. I had not thought crystal-clearly about the importance of healing thoughts until I read Debra Engle's new book, The Only Little Prayer You Need, published by Hampton Roads Publishing Company and distributed by Red Wheel/ Weiser, LLC.

First, a confession. I would not ordinarily buy a book whose title tells me what I need, but this book is written by someone I know and admire. Debra Engle and I were colleagues in a PR company years ago. Having that past connection with the author kept me from having my usual stubborn resistance to being told what I need. And, it's a good thing it did!

This small jewel of a book has made a significant change in my life, because it clearly shows me a way to heal thoughts. And, my thoughts did indeed need healing. Thanks to this book, I have a new tool to look at those thoughts and address them directly. 

It would be a mistake to think a book on thought-healing and mind-clearing makes a ponderous read. Quite the opposite. My mother used to make a dessert called chocolate silk mousse. Deb's book reads like chocolate silk mousse, yet is as nourishing as a three-course meal.

Miracles in the Everyday

Debra Engle
Debra begins by describing an everyday incident in life having to do with car repair. This is one of the things I like best about her book: depth without drama. "The real miracle," Deb writes, "is the change in our minds that makes it possible for us to live a life of joy and peace....Those miracles are available to us every day."

The centerpiece of her book is a brief prayer Deb both created and was "given:"  
"Please heal my fear-based thoughts."

Depending on  your spiritual practice, you can address the prayer to the name of the higher power that forms part of your beliefs, or you can say it just as it is. "Please heal my fear-based thoughts."

After reading the book, I said the prayer a few times and felt a significant shift inside. I had a spinning top in my mind, traveling from one fear to the next. The fears were mostly "small," but so are mosquitoes, and they spread malaria and West Nile Virus! I had larger fears, I'll call them wasps, and addressed those with this prayer, too. I was able to feel a new sense of stillness, thanks to this little prayer, and its words helped me see the source of countless thoughts: fear, not fact. Even better, this prayer somehow kept me from judging myself for having those thoughts, something that those who know me best know I am prone to do.

Also by Debra Engle
In the course of spending more quiet time with the prayer, I went dyslexic for a moment and said, "Please heal my thought-based fears." That, too, was powerful. My switch-a-roo led me to examine the fears I have created entirely by my own thoughts. Some fears are given to us by the media, families, friends, advertising, and other sources. Some fears are born only from our own thoughts. The prayer helped me differentiate between the two. It was empowering to see that I can have control over the fears my own thoughts create. 

I continue to meditate on and with this prayer. I remember times when I was in physical danger. Would this prayer have helped? I think a version of it would, yes. I would ask for my fears and thoughts to be healed and my courage and wisdom to grow. "Please heal my fears, my fearful thoughts, and grant me the courage and wisdom to see my way through." No, it's not the exact phrasing, but the exact phrasing of the "only little prayer" helped me think about this, and arrive at a prayer that could serve during a dangerous time. If I face that kind of danger again, I will use the "only little prayer" itself and any variations that arise from it. I will trust the prayer to show me the difference between my unnecessary fears and the ones I truly need to respond to. If we ask for our fear-based thoughts to be healed, I believe that same healing will contain insight not only about our thoughts, but also about the situations we find ourselves in. It can guide, as well as heal.

Fight, Flight, Freeze Not the Only Options

Fear can fool us. Thanks in part to its effect on our adrenaline system, we can literally become addicted to it. It's possible even to arrive at an inner state where fear is what is most familiar to us. That doesn't make the fear comfortable, per se, but familiarity can make us believe we are comfortable, even in harmful circumstances. Fear can also seem much "larger" than it is, like a projected shadow that is four times larger than the object the shadow comes from. When fear feels big, I run.  Over the past week, I have found that "Please heal my fear-based thoughts" gives me an entrance into the imagined arena where I confront the fear. That arena is not the Roman Coliseum, but my own back yard, a place where I feel much less threatened and less likely to run.

Also by Debra Engle
I believe this prayer can give hope and healing to people who suffer from PTSD. (I am one of those folks. You don't have to be a combat veteran to have PTSD.) The longer I live, the more convinced I am that most of humankind has a trauma somewhere in their past, a before-and-after event. You were one person before it happened; you are another person after. 

It's natural to think that the only way to heal is to find a way to become the person you were before the trauma, but that's impossible. If you strive for that, healing will not visit you.  Rather, we need to accept ourselves now, and address a higher power to heal the fearful thoughts the trauma created, but that do not currently apply to our present life. When we can do that, I believe that healing can indeed occur, even after trauma.

This "only little prayer" has helped me with fear-based thoughts left over from traumatic incidents in my life. Not because it's big, but precisely because it is so small. It's like a rare sapphire I can take anywhere--worth thousands of dollars and small enough to fit inside my pocket. I can always turn to it, pick it up, examine it, enjoy it.

Do I, will I, say other prayers? Sure. In that sense, "Please heal my fear-based thoughts" will not be the only little prayer I need or say. I will, however, include it with any other number of prayers, in addition to saying it alone. I have already found it to be a good preparation for prayer and meditation in the way it unclutters my thinking and helps me settle into a quieter, more positive inner state. 

I'll tell you what the "only little prayer" has become for me, though, in less than a week after reading the book: an essential prayer. This little prayer and I will travel together for the rest of my life.


Visit these sites to learn more about Debra Engle and her work:

Debra Engle
Tending Your Inner Garden
Grace from the Garden

A bit of advice: Buy the physical book! Its design is exquisite, and the physical product a delight to hold in your hands.


jan said…
Sounds good .. I will look for one. Seems right for my journey as well. Blessings to you, my friend.

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