In healthcare, we establish treatment goals for patients in all areas of care. For the palliative care (dying) patient that goal can include pain management and remaining in the preferred location for the patient (e.g. home vs in the hospital), while the behavioral health patient may work toward goals of reducing/eliminating symptoms and being able to function more effectively at home, work, school, and in the community.
These goals facilitate clear communication between the healthcare providers (nurses, doctors, surgeons, therapists, etc.) and the patient along with family or caregivers. Things just work better when the entire team is headed in the same direction, or at the very least – making decisions that are intended to move things toward an agreed-upon outcome.
I was in a meeting at work earlier this week (I’m a healthcare professional) and heard this term and began to think about it in terms of Spiritual Mind Treatment – and how the concept of “treatment goals” may be applicable.
I grew up in the Protestant (mainline) Christian tradition, with numerous female relatives who believe(d) deeply in the power of prayer and throughout my life I have counted on those prayers. As rebellious as I have been (leaving the religion of my birth many years ago), I never gave up my belief that there is great power in prayer.
One of the appealing aspects of spiritual metaphysics is the pivot away from the begging posture of traditional prayer, and the affirmative nature of stating that we have all that we need, “thank you, God!” That perspective alone (from begging to affirming) is likely responsible for a significant number of “converts” from traditional religions into spiritual metaphysics.
The challenge comes when the “promise” (implied or explicit) that we are powerful creators who can channel that Power for Good in the Universe – doesn’t materialize, or doesn’t show up in a way that we had expected, wanted or needed.
In traditional religion, we’re raised to accept that God answers prayer, but in God’s own timing, and in God’s own way. When prayers go unanswered in these circles, we’re already prepared for that possibility because we know that what we WANT may not be what the all-knowing “Father” decides we should acquire or experience. In fact, it is not uncommon for us to hear things like “it must be God’s will” in response to life happenings that take place in spite of the most fervent prayers to the contrary. This concept is codified in the well-known and oft-repeated Lord’s Prayer:
10 Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.Matthew 6
In metaphysical spiritual corners, the response or non-response of a Treatment takes on a multitude of forms, depending on the teacher. In old school, fundamentalist corners of religious science, any Treatment that goes un-demonstrated is said to be due to the client not having the right consciousness. It is believed that absolutely anything can be achieved with Treatment (affirmative prayer) and is referred to by many as “scientific, affirmative prayer” (I’ve used that term in this blog but I will be stepping back from that terminology as I think it is misleading).
It’s reasoned that since it is “scientific“, it will always work if it is “done correctly“. When it fails to produce results, the accusations have historically been laid at the feet of the person seeking the demonstration(s). This is beginning to fall from favor as people who have lost jobs, fallen seriously ill and had family members die have pushed back against this “shaming” practice. This perspective has driven people away who felt let down by a tradition that seemed to turn on them in their darkest hour. Click here to read a 2-post blog series by another writer on that topic.
To be fair – not every metaphysical spiritual teacher takes this approach; but it is prevalent enough to cause some problems.
It is also only right that I admit that I have had a lot of demonstrations after Treatment, and have spent a significant portion of the real estate on this blog writing about them. But I would be DISHONEST if I said that everything I do Treatment for, demonstrates. It does not and I am often frustrated by this reality.
How do we promote “spiritual living” (according to the principles of spiritual metaphysics), that addresses these issues honestly? How do we avoid dancing around and insisting that Treatment is “scientific” and that spiritual law works as reliably and consistently as physical laws (think gravity) when it is clear to EVERYONE who prays – regardless of the perspective they pray from – that many prayers go unanswered or are answered in ways that look nothing like what we were seeking?
In a previous blog post I cited the experiment in the Chemistry lab where Sodium metal (Na+) is added to water and always produces an exothermic reaction (explosion). It is my belief that when we teach, hint at or imply that affirmative prayer is “scientific“, the average person makes some assumptions around the reliability of Spiritual Mind Treatment. And they probably hold on to this for a time,…. until multiple instances of a failure to demonstrate makes them start to wonder and ask questions – sometimes of people who are unwilling to HEAR those questions, let alone attempt to answer them.
In an article by a Christian writer based in England, I came across one of the simplest, but best treatises on the issue. She suggests that prayer isn’t intended to work by us manipulating God. It’s not “prayer in – demonstration out” (I’ve written about that here). But she contends (and I agree) that it is still effective. The reason is that:
Prayer changes us.Anne E Thompson
This writer’s Christian perspective is providing some good advice for those teaching spiritual metaphysics and affirmative prayer. It’s advice that the spiritual-not-religious crowd has heard (and shared) before: be still and know.
OK – so that comes from the book of Psalms, but the concept is at the heart of most meditation practices. Getting still, being quiet and connecting with a higher wisdom, a higher knowing, our higher selves or God-self.
I suspect that most seasoned meditation teachers would agree that an established meditation practice changes the person who meditates. That sounds a lot like Thompson’s contention that “prayer changes us“.
Perhaps it’s time to stop marketing the prayer form in metaphysical spiritual communities as a “scientific” method to get things that we want, and encourage its practice solely for its overall positive benefit – like we do with meditation.
We change for the better when we develop a spiritual practice – whether it is a meditation or daily prayer ritual. We feel less HELPLESS when we spend time sharing our concerns with someone – even if that “someone” is our version of a higher power.
Anyone willing to be honest will admit that they have prayed or done Treatment for something that has not come to pass – or has showed up looking significantly different than they wanted or expected. It’s time to move past the insistence that we’re doing something wrong when that happens; to move past the mental gymnastics that attempt to portray non-demonstrations as demonstrations, and accept some wisdom from our brothers and sisters in traditional religion: sometimes we Treat/pray and the only thing that changes is us.
And that’s OK.
It’s not as sexy as the sports car or gold necklace acquired by “focused wishing” in the movie, The Secret – but is much more sustainable as a practice, and perhaps more importantly – it’s grounded in an honest reality.
Sometimes – maybe a lot of the time – we won’t see the blessing behind our unanswered prayers and we may need to surrender to the possibility that a higher Power or Divine Wisdom has a different plan – one we cannot see, and may not want. Perhaps it’s time to move past the focus on manifesting what we think we need and turn instead to embrace the unscientific uncertainty that is true spiritual living.
I opened this post with a discussion about Treatment Goals in healthcare. I’ll close with the suggestion that the Treatment Goal for affirmative prayer/spiritual mind treatment can be a proximity to and awareness of Spirit, period. It may not line up with our deepest desires and might not appear as anything close to what we think we need; but if we believe in prayer enough to practice it, and this is what comes to us – it’s more than enough.
And so it is.
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