When Pierre Pradervand was put in a very challenging position in his job in the Swiss education system he felt he had no choice but to quit.
It was one of the most difficult decisions in his career: to keep his job but accept a situation which violated professional ethics or to walk away.
He chose the latter route rather than commit moral hari-kiri later discovering that the people who put him in the situation were banking on his leaving.
Afterwards he was consumed with resentment. The people who had orchestrated his forced departure filled his every waking moment. They became his obsession.
“As I awoke in the morning, my first thought was of them,” he recalls. “As I showered, as I walked along the streets, as I went shopping or jogging, this resentment obsessed me, eating me up, draining my energy and robbing me of peace.”
He says he was literally being poisoned but could not break free from its vice-like grip. Despite trying meditation, prayer and spiritual study he was still imprisoned in the past.
Then one day something happened which changed his life forever. He was reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount when a statement in it stopped him dead in his tracks : “Bless them that curse you,” it said. Suddenly, everything became clear, he says. He knew then what he had to do to release the dam of pent-up anger and resentment which had built up inside him and find healing and peace.
‘By blessing, I mean wishing from the bottom of my heart in total sincerity the very best for those people’
He started to bless people in his mind. “By blessing, I mean wishing from the bottom of my heart in total sincerity the very best for those people - their complete fulfilment and deepest happiness. I blessed them their health and their joy, their finances and their work, their family relations, their abundance and their goodness.”
Blessing people is a way to make peace, he believes. “To bless is to speak well of another, to use words that foster reconciliation, understanding and healing. To bless another is to do things that are good and kind for others, to do as Jesus said ‘to others as you would have them do to you’.”
Sincerity that comes from the heart is the most important dimension of blessing, he says. “This is the power that transforms and heals, elevates and restores. Spontaneous blessing is a flowing fountain that, like a mountain stream, cascades and sings. It expresses perpetual morning - defined as freshness, openness, gratitude, inspiration, newness, alertness, expectation of good, fresh beginnings and wonder.”
At first, these blessings were a conscious decision activated by his will but born of a sincere spiritual intention to heal his thinking. “But slowly they moved from being an act of the will to a yearning of the heart - because the act of blessing comes essentially from the heart. I blessed those people all day long - when I was brushing my teeth, jogging, on my way to the post office or supermarket, washing dishes and before falling asleep - individually and silently. This process of blessing continued for quite a few years.”
‘Little by little, blessing people became one of the greatest joys of my life, and it still is now, after many years of practice.’
After a few months he one day quite spontaneously started blessing other people, strangers in the street, on the bus, in the post office. He says soon this gentle art of blessing became a silent song, the driving force of his spiritual life.
“Little by little, blessing people became one of the greatest joys of my life, and it still is now, after many years of practice. I have found it to be one of the most efficient ways of staying spiritually centred and of freeing my thoughts from negativity, criticism and judgment.”
The author of The Gentle Art of Blessing never received any bouquets from his former employer, not even the slightest expression of regret, he says0. But he received roses from life. By the armful.
Interestingly, through a chance encounter a few years ago he met the man who had mastermined the ugly situation which caused him to quit the job be loved and ultimately led him to discover the art of blessing.
Did he feel a rush of resentment? No, the opposite in fact. “I cannot find words to express the incredible wave of joy that flooded me,” he recalls. “The deep love, and especially gratitude I felt for this man. Here was this man who apparently had caused me to lose a job I thorougly enjoyed, where I had immense freedom and felt very useful to society and all I could feel was deep gratitude.
“This experience was a milestone in enabling me to feel (not to know or believe, but really to feel ) that truly there was a perfect plan for my life. That whatever happened to me, it would always end up being in my best interest if my life stayed rooted in total sincerity and integrity. Sometimes even our enemies (especially our enermies! ) be they circumstances or people, are the best friends of our growth.”
‘Blessings not only sow seeds of healing but one day will spring forth as flowers of joy in the waste places of your life.’
He urges people to begin each day with a blessing. “On awakening bless this day, for it is already full of unseen good which your blessing will call forth. On meeting and talking to people bless them in their health, their work, their joy, their relationships to God, themselves and others. And, of course, above all, don’t forget to bless that utterly beautiful person you are. Such blessings not only sow seeds of healing but one day will spring forth as flowers of joy in the waste places of your life.”
When something goes wrong or when your plans come to nothing do not grumble or complain, he advises. Instead “burst into blessing” because life is teaching you a lesson.
“The very event you believe to be unwanted you yourself called forth so as to learn the lesson you might baulk against were you not to bless it. Trials are blessings in disguise and hosts of angels follow in their path.”
He believes blessings can change the world in the sense that making the conscious choice to bless every person around you makes a tremendous difference to yourself and to others. The practice of blessing has the power to create more than just a renewed perspective, he says, it unleashes tangible benefits throughout your life, through your daily interactions and your relationships.
He says it is impossible to bless and judge at the same time so if your mind is set on blessing and wishing people the best there will be little room in your life for negative or unkind thoughts or comments.
“To wish their best, their honour and worth, is to shift from a perspective of judgement, negativity and 0condemnation to a perspective of faith, acceptance, enthusiasm and possibility.”