A Psychiatrist Prays

September 29, 2014

You don't need to be religious to say this prayer . . . do you?

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE NEWS

I was surprised and pleased when some readers noticed that I did not comment on any news last Thursday, September 25th, 5775. Although I originally did mention that this column might not occur every weekday for one reason or another, why not on this day for the first time?

I was in Shalom Synagogue on the first day of the Jewish New Year. I didn't peruse the news that day, and who else but members of my synagogue would want to know the news from there?

I was praying. For a psychiatrist, this is not a benign statement. Ever since Freud, psychiatrists have had an ambivalent relationship with religion. For me, prayer never meant much, nor did I have faith that it produced results.

However, this time, for the first time, I read a sentence in a Meditation that made prayer important forever more:

"Become the prayer for goodness your lips have uttered."

This meant to me that I should be in a continual prayer to try to be good.

The prior sentence described what goodness consisted of: cherish truth, loving, compassion, and hope. Seems to me that such goodness applies not only to everyday relationships, but is the essence of clinical relationships, too.

I now plan to utter this prayer every morning upon awakening. And, you don't need to be religious to say this prayer . . .  do you?