Building the Inner Temple


Awareness of the Present Moment brings the divine into your daily life

As Rumi said, “I looked in temples, churches, and mosques. But I found the divine within my heart.”

I call the kind of communion Rumi was talking about “prayer,” giving the word a broader connotation than we usually assign. As we cultivate awareness of the divine within our hearts, we become “walking prayers” and sacred activists. We embody the sacred in our hearts and grow our communities and world. As we “pray beyond borders” we realize our prayers are the language of the heart with many voices singing one song.

As divine awareness arises, it may take many forms. “Prayer” ranges from the simplest silent meditation to complex rituals with lineages thousands of years old. Through the breath, silence, words, chants, postures, and practices we become aware of this communion, the expansion into what is larger than ourselves.

There are always people praying, all over the world, in silence and in every language and tradition. Any time of the day or night, someone is holding the vigil of prayer. This “prayerfield” is potent and powerful, an energy that translates into the physical. Our prayers do touch the Earth.

In our busy lives we often forget that we are in constant communion with the divine within our hearts. Our breath can be the bridge, a refuge right here and now. Attention to the breath breaks the cycle of constant thought and concern. In the inhale and exhale are remembrance and regeneration. It brings us into “Awareness of the Present Moment,” which is a big prayer. It’s not linear, paying attention to past, present and future. It includes all that is, here and now.

When I was very young, the nuns in my Catholic elementary school told us that God always was and always will be. That began my quest for the infinite. I could not imagine it with my mind. I followed the “always was” one way for as long as I could, then followed the “always will be” in the other direction. I had to let it go and sit in the vastness beyond knowing. My contemplation gave God a dimension for me beyond an entity; I began to understand the divine as the ground of being.

The Awareness of the Present Moment is attention to this vastness even in the midst of chaos, change, and the constant concerns of our daily lives.

As I work with people, I often hear dissatisfaction that they cannot manage to carve out time for spiritual practice, even though this is what they feel they need to be whole and connected. Time for the spirit seems to recede further with the growing demands of work and family. With so many responsibilities and interactions, days can go by without time for spiritual and physical nurturance, prayer, and self-care.

It’s easy to get out of balance and distracted from our awareness of the sacred and our rhythms with nature. Our families, communities, environment, and whole world reflect imbalance and dysfunction.

Nature is our great teacher. Do trees ever work too hard or get too busy to take water and nutrients through their roots in the Earth, or to grow toward the sun and blossom? Nature rests in winter and dormant times, and seeks renewal in the spring. The intensity of day becomes the receptivity of night. How do we move toward similar balance in this world of busy relationship?

We start with ourselves, now. The Awareness of the Present Moment is not another thing to do, to put on the list. You need no special clothing or equipment, money, a phone or laptop. You won’t feel guilty if you don’t do it one day because you’re doing it already, all the time. All you have to do is remember! Remember your connection to the divine in your heart.

The secret is the breath. As you bring your attention to your breath, the remembering happens automatically. You are inspired and bring awareness to the connection you long for. Right after reading this paragraph, become aware of your breath. No need to regulate it or change it, just notice it. Your eyes can be open or closed. When your mind wanders, and it will, just bring attention back to the breath. Go ahead, do it now.

You can do this anywhere, anytime, for as long as you like. Just remember. A few breaths is like a mini-vacation. You can be at a traffic light or in the bathroom. As you cultivate this awareness you will even notice it between words. The Awareness of the Present Moment is the ground of being and our true nature.

Whether it’s for minutes or hours, be unbusy with Spirit. Enter into a non-linear timing, that of spaciousness and presence. Within this awareness, we can’t multi-task the present moment. Sacred awareness expands into our activities and they grow with presence. This awareness is prayerness and the connection we long for.

You will soon find that Awareness shows up naturally and gets your attention, and naturally fits itself into your lifestyle. You may find yourself formally “sitting” with attention to the breath, or walking in nature, stretching, reading an inspirational writing. Perhaps upon awakening, while still in bed, you embrace the stillness. Or as you go to bed, you bless the day and bring awareness as you meet the mystery within sleep.

The awareness expands into a connection and appreciation of what is already present. What you do doesn’t matter as much as the awareness you give to it. Looking out the window, lighting a candle, or taking a bath can be a sacred time of union.

Many of us grew up going to church, temple, mosque, or synagogue and may have become disenchanted with the institutions. Now we pray in every cell of our bodies. We cultivate our inner terrain as our sacred temple.


About Author

Celeste, the creator of the anthology How Do You Pray?, is passionate about helping people discover a deeper experience of the sacred in their daily lives. Ordained as a Minister of Walking Prayer by the Center for Sacred Studies, Celeste leads “How Do You Pray?” workshops in which people share and experience different ways of connecting to a Source greater than themselves. She also maintains a private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she facilitates healing and transformation through her unique approach to spiritual coaching and her mastery of a number of the healing arts. With breath, touch, prayer and song she holds a space of awareness, presence and inspiration that allows participants to experience a profound integration of body, mind, spirit and emotion.

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