God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.Her sentiments resonated with me. Last year was one of the most stressful of my life. In addition to the joy of having a baby, I was going through some intensely painful personal issues. One thing that I found helpful was the Serenity Prayer. Not just saying it, which I did over and over, but really understanding its meaning and trying to live it.
I, too, struggled with the wording of the prayer. It's not that I don't believe in God, although by my way of thinking, It's the Divine, or the Universe. The part of the prayer I take issue with, is asking a higher power to grant me a favor, if you will. I believe the power is already within me, and with this prayer, I am both acknowledging that and asking the Universe to help me muster the strength to use it.
The concept of the prayer really helped. So, I decided on this, albeit cumbersome, personal wording:
I ask the Universe to support me in calling forth my own power for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.Now, some might think: that's a lot of new-age mumbo jumbo, or, that my wording is just semantics. That's okay. What I think, is that it genuinely means something to me, and that is:
#1 I can only do me. I have the power to decide to be the best me I can. That is not easy, nor it is necessarily going to get me everything I want. It is a heck of a lot, though.
#2 No matter how much I want something to happen, or someone to change, it is not within my power to make it so. I have no control over what other people do, nor can I control the actions and beliefs of others.
#3 is the kicker: whenever I feel stressed, angry, disappointed, sad, etc. it helps to think about the points above and reassess how I approach any given situation and what I hope to get out of it.It serves me well to remember all of this. It helped me through a very difficult time. The prayer didn't make the situation better, nor did it take away the pain and sadness. What it did, is help me understand who I am, who I want to be, and that in the end, that is what is in my control. It gave me perspective.
Even though things did not turn out the way I had hoped, I am steadfast in my faith that things will turn out as they should.
If you're searching for some Yogic wisdom on this topic, these two Yoga Journal articles are a good place to start: Spiritual Surrender and The Practice of Surrender.
No matter what you call it - Serenity Prayer or Ishvara Pranidhana, it's all Yoga to me.
How has prayer helped you?
Photo credit: Robert Kiss