Sara Shendelman and Dr. Avram Davis. Traditions:
The Complete Book of Prayers, Rituals, and Blessings For Every Jewish
New York: Hyperion, 1998.
The Jewish tradition, we are told, encourages us to make a hundred blessings a day. That’s a lot of blessings. By the time the effect of one blessing started to fade we would be blessing something else. In practice, we would be in a constant blessed state. Living this way we would move in a continual flow of gratitude and kindness. What could be better than that?
Blessing is a spiritual or psychological act of recognizing and affirming. When we bless something or someone, we must become aware of them and acknowledge that this thing or person is good. When we bless, we make note of the connection between the blessed and the divine.
When we bless our food, for instance, we acknowledge its value to us and give thanks for the pleasure and nutrition it provides. When we bless a person, we see them, admire them, and wish them well. We make a direct connection with them and bring them into our sphere of consciousness.
People like to be blessed. We don’t call it that, but that’s what fan’s seek when they ask celebrities for autographs or what voters reach for when they shake the hand of a politician. To be acknowledged, even in such a small way, is a powerful thing. We don’t need to be famous or powerful to share our blessings. We each have the power to share emotion with other human beings. We can make them feel good, or we can make them feel miserable by how we interact with them. When we shine our love on them they feel good, and we benefit because they will reflect love back to us. In the act of blessing we are blessed.
The act of blessing need not be formal, although many religious rituals are essentially blessings. When you exchange a sincere greeting, compliment a child, lovingly pet or play with an animal, talk kindly to your plants, or acknowledge the weather with equanimity, you are in the act of blessing. You may confer a blessing with a silent prayer or a casual compliment, a touch or a smile. When you honor another, express admiration or grant a gift, you share a blessing. You can only do these acts in blessed style if you are attuned to what is sacred. If you are having a holy moment you can bestow blessing. If you are distracted or in the clutch of a base emotion, you cannot. To have a hundred blessing day, one must practice being grounded, aware, and in touch on many levels. To have a hundred blessing day one would be truly blest.
Make blessing a habit. Rituals are tools to create habit. So develop rituals that reinforce your blessings. Look at the religious tradition(s) of your choice for prayers and rituals of blessing. See those rituals as opportunities to practice blessing and being blessed. Use them to reinforce your connection to the sacred in daily life.
Make up your own rituals. Think about your daily routine and look for opportunities to connect with the source of all that is. Maybe you’ll pray or meditate on rising from bed. Maybe sign on to a mailing list that sends you an uplifting message each morning, or set your Internet browser start up page to a website that will give you a good thought each day. You might read scripture or chant a mantra. You might put positive sayings or affirmations on your bathroom mirror or around the house. Similarly, you can place holy images in your environment to remind you of the sacred. You might say grace before meals. You might say a blessing while you prepare the meal too. You can say a prayer for the safety of yourself and other drivers as you go to work. You can greet your friends and coworkers with a little more sincerity. You can offer appreciation for good work and sincere effort where you work or study. Noticing the weather, you can give thanks for the air you breathe, the sun that warms the earth, the rain that gives life, and honor all forms of atmospheric events that make up this amazing world climate.
Whenever possible, admire your family and friends, honor your teammates, colleagues, and fellow citizens. Create community by sharing good will and good works.
When things go wrong, instead of cursing, offer a blessing and a wish that things will come right again. When frustrated with people, move into your heart of compassion, remembering we are all frail and flawed and yet we each possess power and dignity. Generate a wish that we each find our strength and nobility.
Bless all of creation and let all of creation bless you.
© 1999-2002 Tom Barrett