"I say a little prayer for you ... Forever, and ever, you'll stay in my heart ..." ~ I Say a Little Prayer for You, Aretha Franklin
I have a buddha in a bubble! My children surprised me with a snow globe, and it’s home to a beautiful golden buddha. He sits inside in his peaceful womb, surrounded by sparkles as gold as he is.
I’ve placed him on my vanity where I can see him every day. In the mornings, I pick him up, give him a good shake, and watch as the vanity lights illuminate the sparkles, while they spin around in a glittering dance to start the day. They swirl every which way and then gently descend, landing softly on his head and on his shoulders, in his hands and in his lap, around his seat and even on his feet.
The buddha is seated, just like I am at the end of my yoga practice.
I remember the first time I ever sat like that. It was at the closing of one of my very first practices. We came to an easy seat at the top of our mats with our legs crossed and our hands in prayer, and the instructor said a few words.
He asked us to exhale something that was no longer serving us and then inhale some goodness in its place. (At that point, I was so hypnotized by the practice that I would have followed any instructions, and these seemed easy enough.) I was surprised at how visual it was for me. I remember exhaling what I saw as the color gray and inhaling what I saw as the color white.
At the end of other practices, we’d sit like this, again, and he’d ask us to send some positive energy to someone we loved. At that point, I hadn't heard too much about the idea of energy, but I'd find myself visualizing that, too. I remember imagining what I saw as white stars swirling around and then descending upon a person I loved.
I’ve now been practicing for several years, and over time something magical has happened. Somehow these white stars have turned to gold. And now these golden stars have become a sort of visual prayer for me, the kind I say when I want to send a blessing. I think about someone I love and imagine them with golden stars swirling all around.
I even did this when one of my instructors wasn’t well. For several weeks during his recuperation, I’d practice with him in mind. I’d picture him seated like a buddha, with golden stars swirling all around and then descending gently upon him, some even landing on his head and others sticking to his shoulders like ornaments on a tree.
And so it was with wonder that I received this most thoughtful of gifts, my buddha in a bubble, complete with the sparkles that were as golden as the stars that I send in my prayers!
I look at my buddha, and to me he looks blessed, but of course he doesn’t know it. He just sits there, staring out of his bubble, dusted in gold but oblivious to the fact that he is covered in sparkles. He's even sitting in some. And when I see him like this, it occurs to me that some of us might be the same. It's possible for some of us to be covered in blessings and not even know it.
I think this might be true of more people than we realize. For some, it’s not always so easy to believe that they are blessed, especially because not all blessings can be seen or touched. But the blessings are there, because we are here. Still, it’s never that simple. Alarmingly for some, feeling bereft of blessings can even turn dire. We are hearing more and more about people who tragically decide they must exit from their own lives.
And when I hear such heartbreaking news, it makes me wish that these souls could have been sustained by what I’m sure were the golden prayers that must have been sent to them while they were here, or even by the ones that they must have chosen to send to others. For surely there is enough gold dust to go around. Surely they must have been sitting in some. Some of it had to be resting on their shoulders or in their hair or even on their feet, because the evidence is there. They’ve left it behind in their footprints.
I think it can be very difficult to exhale that which no longer serves us. Sometimes that which no longer serves us can get stuck inside, because it’s too dark to see any goodness that might replace it. I would never claim to know for sure, but perhaps that is some of what happens to those who have found themselves unable to bear this life. And that leaves me wishing what is probably too simple a wish. I wish that more of us could have known of their struggles, so that many golden prayers could have been sent to help.
The other night, at the end of practice, we came to an easy seat with our legs crossed and our hands in prayer. It was dark and the room was quiet. The instructor asked us to inhale deeply and then exhale just as deeply. And when we did, a siren blared. Somewhere out in the city streets, someone needed help. And so the instructor asked us to say a prayer for whoever it was. He asked us to pray for someone we didn’t know, but for whom, if we did, we’d love and bless them all the same.
That night, after the practice, I made my way home. It was late, and I was anxious to settle down for the evening. I stood at my vanity and looked at my buddha. As usual, he was sitting serenely in his bubble. I picked him up, gave him a good shake, and then set him down again. And then I watched as the sparkles, illuminated by the vanity lights, swirled around every which way, before they gently descended and settled down for the evening, too.
They landed softly on the buddha’s head and on his shoulders, in his hands and in his lap, around his seat and on his feet. Only this time something was different. As if by magic, the reflection of the vanity lights had formed a halo around the buddha’s head! And so I reached for my phone and took a picture. I wanted to capture the magic. Besides, it seemed like a good idea to have a picture of a blessing.
I climbed into bed, pulled up the covers and then opened my phone to look at the picture one more time before I closed my eyes. And without another thought I sent it to my children. I wanted them to have it, too, so that they could see what I saw.
I wanted them to see the golden stars that I so often send to them without their even knowing it. And I wanted them to see that there is magic in this world, and that, like the buddha in the bubble, we are blessed to be here in it.