The First 5-Second Method: the Start Anywhere Prayer

These days,  when I’m feeling a bit out of sorts (like when I’m frustrated with the cat, or with Washington DC, or with the silliness of the civilization around me)  one of my basic “methods” — or mind games, mental disciplines — which I engage to help me  get back into the flow is a simple 5-second, 5-step inner process called “The Start Anywhere Prayer,”  or “The 5- Second Enlightenment Game.”  (Same process, just different names.)

Although I originally assumed it was a linear, step-by-step process— and it works quite well as such a linear process— after practicing it for six months or a year I realized I could start anywhere with any of the steps;  thus its name. Once I gave myself such permission, (to start anywhere) it somehow took the pressure off and I found myself engaging it much more often.  I’m happy to share it, with a couple of quick caveats:

Although this prayer/exercise can indeed be started and finished in 5 seconds or so, if you can stretch it out to 10 or 15 seconds, the benign effects grow even stronger. But just 5 seconds works, which makes it nifty.

The following is a very quick and practical summary of the process/prayer. But each of the five terms, or “parts” of the exercise qualify for what in General Semantics are called “multiordinal” terms,  which means they can be understood at different levels, (ordinals)  with different frames of consciousness. For example, the first step: Stop. This can mean simply to stop moving for a moment, stop talking, stop thinking. Or it can also mean to stop identifying, stop arguing, stop fretting. Or on another level It might mean stop holding on to time.  On and on… For our purposes here, “stop” is like what happens when you push the pause button, just for a second, to run up and get a glass of water.  Obviously, I invite more discussion on any and all of these “five steps.”

Here, in a nutshell, are the  five steps of the “Start Anywhere” prayer:

1.) STOP

In my day life I, like most of us,  tend to just keep going, going, going, moving, moving, moving, worrying, worrying, worrying, chewing, first on this and then on that tidbit of life’s Big Banquet.  I have to tell myself, sometimes, just stop.

2.) RELAX

Even when I’m moving, moving and chewing and chewing, I can relax a little for pity’s sake. What’s the hurry? Scan the bod. Where’s the tension? Relax.

  1. Just Love

Sounds corny, but whatever the heck is happening right here, right now, inside my brain or outside my window, I allow myself to just love what’s here. I figure this is the life I’m living and I’ve given myself permission to love it, the life I’m living, no matter what. Another word for just love is  just beJust love and just be are like yin/yang: two sides of the same enchilada. I’ve determined to just love, just be with the life I have right here, right now– not the life I want to have or could have but this one, just as it is. I figure this life deserves my love, even if it’s just for a second. I know, it sounds corny. So sue me.

  1. Zoom Out (bi-locate)

Like when watching the football game, the announcer says, “Let’s take a view from the blimp,” it’s often quite helpful to take a second to get a wider view. Sometimes in my imagination I’ll lift up above the house, take a look at the neighborhood. Other times, I’ll just keep zooming out, and view that little blue dot orbiting that tiny ball of light. It does put things into perspective. In this fourth step for just a second I let the loving me and the un-loving me both disappear ( which is a different ordinal than zoom out).  I let all identities disappear, for just a second, even the identity that decides to “zoom out.”  For just a second, I’m present as identity-less-ness.  I stay there as long as I can, even though there’s no “I” to stay.

  1. Carry On.

I generally can’t stay disappeared or zoomed-out for very long so then I simply carry on. I do whatever comes next, re-engage my circumstance, chop wood, carry water, take out the garbage or write my speech for the United Nations. “Carry on” happens anyway. I’ve been doing that all my life. I’ve found this “start anywhere” practice is a simple way to bring more flow, more light and leisure to my everyday “carrying on” that goes on anyway.

Since we get to start anywhere, we could start with zooming out, or with just loving, or relaxing, whatever. The one step that is not included in the “start anywhere” freedom is the “carry on” step, simply because this prayer/practice is designed to break up the habitual “carrying on” that leads so often to uninspired boredom, mundane suffering and the same ol same ol’ robotic lifestyle.

As mentioned, this practice takes only five seconds or so to engage, though when I’m feeling centered and at ease I can draw it out to fifteen or twenty seconds. I’ve discovered that the more time I give to it, the better my life flows, goes. Five seconds is better than no time at all. Ten seconds is better than five, but there’s no pressure here, at least not in the way I play this Start Anywhere  game.

Love God with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law  and the Prophets.”  That’s what I learned as a kid. This  Start Anywhere  prayer is how I do it, these days, as an old white-haired man.

Let me know if you have suggestions for doing it better.

 

 

 

2 Responses to The First 5-Second Method: the Start Anywhere Prayer

  1. It might be useful to include a “Forgiveness” stage in which you search your thoughts for any resentments at perceived slights from others, and fears or jealousies of others, or any type of grudge of any kind. Take a moment to let it go and give forgiveness to others, and thus give forgiveness to yourself for having thunk the thought in the first place.

    • Bear Jack Gebhardt says:

      Thanks Stephen, for your thoughtful reply. We’re probably just using different words. These days, when I find myself feeling a moment of resentment, or jealousy, or grudge, (which, alas, I do find myself feeling more than I’d care to admit,) I simply STOP feeling jealous or resentful, for a moment, RELAX, and then just love the goofy guy who feels resentment, jealousy or grudge-full. Or I JUST BE with the grudge, the jealousy, or whatever, and then I also love (if only slightly, and only for a moment) the one towards whom I feel these things. And then after doing this, I disappear for a moment. I find, for me, the Quick Love practice cuts through such emotions more quickly than any of the other methods I have employed over the years, including various forgiveness methods. I’d be interested in knowing about any of your favorite methods. This is, after all, the sharing that goes on here at the New Buddhist Methodist Church, Satsang and Art Studio.Hope to hear more– Bear

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