2019-02-20

Julia Cameron is the prolific author of the bestselling self-help book, “The Artist’s Way,” which has helped millions of people regain their creativity through a spiritual connection to the source of all creation: God. She wrote the book as a result of her own creative recovery after a particularly difficult period of her life—a journey which has continued to inspire readers since “The Artist’s Way” was published in 1992.

Because Cameron’s work is so tightly intertwined with her own personal experiences, deftly made universal through the power of her writing, her words are intimate. To read her work is to feel as if she knows you, and is speaking to you, personally. It is a moving experience.

This mode of writing continues in Cameron’s newest work: “Life Lessons: 125 Prayers and Meditations.” A collection of prayers and affirmations, “Life Lessons” is a soothing love letter to the reader, each entry gently correcting commonly-held misconceptions of the divine which cause anxiety, sadness, and unease.

In her own words, this book is “intended as an attempt to forge a pathway from the divine to the human and from the human to the divine” for those who have previously felt that achieving a spiritual life is too difficult to accomplish.

“Life Lessons” draws its inspiration from Cameron’s own experiences. “I live alone,” she says, “and I found myself feeling lonely. And I thought, ‘There must be some solution to this.’ It occurred to me that the solution was probably prayer, and so I started writing prayers in an attempt to really sooth an inner anxiety. So, the book was written as much to myself as to a reader.”

And, indeed—Cameron’s work is a masterwork of soothing prayer, speaking to many of the emotional ills we carry with us through or busy, modern lives. The wisdom within these simple prayers is life-changing, no matter what your beliefs might be.

Let’s look at excerpts from 4 of these prayers, and at how they can heal your very soul.

A Prayer Against Anxiety

“Little one, why are you anxious? Why do you worry and fret? I am with you always and I intend you great good. Still your frantic imaginings. Feel my calm. There is no need for panic. You are led carefully and well. There is always a choice: fear or faith. With faith comes the certainty that my world is unfolding exactly as it should. Trust in me. Trust in God—good, orderly direction.”

That’s it. Relief in a handful of words.

Anxiety is an unfortunate constant of life, if we allow it to take root. When we focus on our own inherent insecurity, on the disorderly and chaotic nature of the world around us, on the idea that anything can happen at any time, bringing our lives crashing down around us, we worry. Left unchecked, that worry becomes anxiety.

But this small prayer, from “Life Lessons,” is a comforting blanket. With it, readers can reassure themselves that they are not only cared for, but that everything is ordered. Everything has a purpose and a meaning and a direction.

In a culture that constantly tell us there is no meaning, this prayer stands as a reminder to remain open-minded. In that, there is great comfort.

A Prayer Against Grief

“Little one, you have lost a beloved. Your heart is numb, stricken with grief. You feel empty as if your loss has scraped bare the chambers of your heart. Listen to what I tell you now: death is a portal. Your beloved lives on. What you see as an ending is really a beginning. Your loved one feels joy, not sorrow; expansion and freedom as the transition to being “home” brings happiness and peace. Celebrate your beloved’s life. Do not mourn what is past.”

True, deep grief at the loss of a loved one is the most difficult emotion we bear as human beings. Too often, we prolong our own suffering by framing this passing as something inherently bad—as a permanent loss.

But this excerpt from Cameron’s prayer against grief helps readers reframe death: it is not the end, as she writes.

It is change.

Cameron emphasizes the transitive nature of life not as a tragedy, but as a journey to someplace mysterious. Your loved ones aren’t gone, but merely moved on.

It is in this mindset that you can find peace after tragedy.

A Prayer to See Beauty

“Little one, you turn a blind eye to the beauties of my world. I say to you, “Open your eyes and with your eyes your heart.” Dare to love. Dare to appreciate the loveliness all around you. On a snowy night feel my peace and tranquility. Snowbound, let me be your companion. Feel my calm. I am peaceful and so, too, can you be. Rest your heart in my quietude. Dismantle your fears and trust that all is well.”

Oh, to look up from our screens and see the world around us! This is the essence of this particular prayer from “Life Lessons.”

When we’re able to simply stop for a moment and appreciate the small beauties of the world—even in something as small as a dandelion pushing up through a crack in the sidewalk—we begin to change our own hearts. We train ourselves to see beauty, and to love that beauty, connecting ourselves to creation.

There’s more to the world around you than you think. Take a moment to quiet yourself, to look with your eyes, and then with your heart. It will change your life.

A Prayer Against Loneliness

“Lonely one, we are with you at all times, although you seldom sense our presence. We are by your side, closer than your breath. When you need companionship, turn to us. More than any human, we are your friend. When you crave company, come to us with your craving. Allow us to sooth the anxious pangs of loneliness. We are with you now.”

Julia Cameron wrote this one night, while snowbound, and she names it as her favorite prayer in “Life Lessons.” It acted as a balm for that snowy, lonely night, and as she does in much of her work, Cameron took that experience, wrapped it in a prayer, and gave it as a gift to her readers.

Loneliness is a feeling not unlike the snow, cold and suffocating. But when you realize that you’re not alone in your struggles, that there is a divine ear to hear you at all times, loneness begins to lose some of its power.

And that is an invaluable comfort.

The Joys of Affirmation

Each prayer in “Life Lessons” isn’t merely a comforting set of words. Rather, they’re spiritual starting points—trail markers which lead to the larger path of spirituality and a connection to God. They open the mind and prime the heart to receive His love and warmth.

Cameron’s work avoids the complications of organized religion while focusing in on the tiny, intimate ways we can speak to God, and how He can speak to us, making her work a vital read for anyone who needs a moment of comfort.