Holding in the Light

December 13, 2018 § 2 Comments

Liberal Friends have replaced prayer with the practice of “holding people in the light”. Maybe in their minds, the Light has a capital “L”, a kind of stand-in for the deity that is the object of prayer as conventionally practice.

I believe in the power of “holding people in the light”. But I also believe, based on my own experience, that just an inward lip service to the idea of holding in the light is not likely to be enough to effect the desired result. I believe that holding people in the light has become (maybe always was) an outward form without much real power.

Yes, it’s actually an “inward” form in that we do it in our heads. But I call it outward because it’s virtually empty. It’s a verbal and inward ritual. We do not give it the kind of attention it needs or deserves. We say it. We do some kind of inward wish-thing for just a moment. And then we move on.

I’m describing the practice in the context of meeting for worship or some other collective gatherings. I realize that individuals may bring this practice into their personal devotional life with more substantive attention.

My own experience with prayer—and especially with holding in the light—is deeply influenced by my experience with Silva Mind Control, and that experience involved holding someone in the light. Mind Control is a pop-psych, pseudo-scientific self help program that was somewhat popular in the 1970s. It has an unfortunately sinister-sounding name but it is actually quite effective. Half of the program is dedicated to various self-help techniques, many of which are focused on personal health, and half is dedicated to techniques for spiritual healing. I taught Silva Mind Control for several years in the early 1970s, mainly because I witnessed, and I myself performed, spiritual healing so extraordinary as to seem miraculous using its techniques.

As a teacher, I used to lead meetings of Mind Control graduates in which healing circles were a regular feature. They sometimes worked. Not all the time, not even very often. But sometimes.

So I know from personal experience that spiritual healing at a distance, both by individuals and by groups, is real.

Focused and healing prayer

Mind Control’s healing exercises—both the individual techniques and the group work— have three components that I believe really make a difference in actually healing people:

  1. intention and emotion to supply healing energy,
  2. centering to deepen consciousness and tap the energy, and
  3. visualization to focus the energy.

It’s all about energy. The group visualization usually used light as the primary image vehicle, and many practitioners, myself included, use light in our personal work, as well.

Thus I believe in the power of “holding people in the light”, as I said But I also believe in the power of these other components. To move beyond the outward form of holding in the light, to increase one’s chances of an actual positive outcome from the practice, I suggest the following, based on my experience:

  1. Supplying the energy. One needs to settle into the emotions involved, to connect meaningfully with one’s caring for the person or situation. This generates energy.
  2. Tapping the energy. To tap the energy, one needs to center down. One needs to take some time and, preferably, use an effective centering technique. I believe that an altered state of consciousness improves your chances for “successful” prayer by an order of magnitude. Sometimes grace happens, a gift born out of simple intention and attention. But not very often. “Success” is rare enough even when you’re doing all the things I’m suggesting here. That’s my experience, anyway.
  3. Focusing the energy. Finally, developing and using a set of psychic prayer tools seems to really help with focused prayer, and especially with healing prayer. In Mind Control, this includes having “imaginary” allies to turn to for help, specific ways to visualize focusing your energy—tools, as it were—and practice, especially at visualization in general and visualizing the body in particular. Mind Control spends two whole sessions just teaching anatomy and visualizing organs and systems of the body; this works.

So a “prayer” session works like this: You center down using whatever technique works for you. You greet your allies, if you have them. You gather your tools. You visualize the person you’re working on, and then follow your instincts. Openness rather than forcefulness is the key. The “force” comes from the love, the caring. But the healing comes through rather than from.

Wait in silent expectation until the problem you’re addressing presents itself somehow in your imagination. This can take many forms: pulsing somewhere, discoloration, enlargement—some irregularity in the way the person’s body or organs appear or feel to your imagination.

Then do whatever comes to mind. Maybe you’ll use one of your “tools”. Maybe you’ll ask for your ally’s help. Maybe something else will occur to you. Again, openness rather than forcefulness is the key.

Does this not sound rather Quakerly in spirit, if not in form, that is, in the form of techniques and “tools”?

Healing Circles

Mind Control healing circles work like this: You sit close together in a circle and join hands, left hand up and right hand down. You visualize energy—light—cycling through the circle from left to right, pouring out of yourself into the person on your right and pouring into you from the person on your left. When the facilitator feels the energy is up and running, she asks everyone to visualize it rising in a kind of cone, slowly, until it peaks at a point of convergence above the group in the center. Once this feels solid, then you send it to the person for whom you’re “praying”, whether they are at a distance, or someone sitting in the center of the circle.

Granted, this isn’t something that a group of Friends gathered for meeting for worship would do, unless maybe it’s a rather small meeting. But some meetings do have gatherings or meetings for healing, where this approach might be something to experiment with.

For some Friends, such an approach might feel too technical—too “technique-al”. It might seem like another outward form. It might feel ritualized. Can’t really argue with that. I stopped teaching Mind Control because I eventually felt like my life was too full of tools and I wanted to touch my experience with my bare hands again. But I was teaching it, and using it all the time. Now, it’s as natural feeling as meeting for worship itself, and it’s confined primarily to my daily practice. Like everything else, it becomes easy and natural with practice.

I hope some readers find this useful.

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§ 2 Responses to Holding in the Light

  • Steven, thanks so much for sharing your experience and the techniques you once learned and taught. I do, sometimes, feel real spiritual Power in the silence that comes in my meeting after we hear people’s requests to hold people in the Light, and even more so in the regular meetings for prayer and healing in which I participate. I think for many people the practice of holding people in the Light it is not just an idea, and I believe that doing it collectively can make a difference.
    I have a few times experienced and heard reports of healings that seemed in some ways miraculous and connected to the involved person being held in the Light/prayed for by others.
    I have explored many ways to do this, and I agree with you that emotion, intention, and visualization can all be helpful. But I also agree with treegestalt that both holding in the Light and prayer are about inviting and opening for the power of God–or the Light of God–to move through us, rather than about using our own healing powers, or learning techniques. Perhaps this is what you meant in describing your desire to experience this “with bare hands”?

  • treegestalt says:

    But to the extent that ‘holding in the Light’ is a euphemism [ugliphemism?] for ‘praying for’ — It isn’t supposed to be our effort that does the job.

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