Sunday, August 2, 2020

Advice from the Dental Chair Sports and Spirituality Style

In the past week, two friends asked me to pray for them as they visited one of the more dreaded places humanity must go: the dentist's office. Having just been there myself for a crown filling, I said that of course I would pray for them AND that I have done some of my best praying in the dental chair. I hope my words offered some respite. In fact, they might apply in any place or situation that brings anxiety or distress. Here's more, in the context of both sport and spirituality. Give this some thought.
1. Have a go-to prayer

In the interview "A Big Heart Open to God" the Holy Father is asked about his preferred way to pray. He says
“I pray the breviary every morning. I like to pray with the psalms. Then, later, I celebrate Mass. I pray the Rosary. What I really prefer is adoration in the evening, even when I get distracted and think of other things, or even fall asleep praying. In the evening then, between seven and eight o’clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day."
I love how practical Pope Francis makes prayer. He mentions resources, disciplines and examples of personal and communal prayer. He makes it relatable, too. I am sure every one of us has prayed while sitting in the waiting room, be it to visit the dentist, a doctor, and so forth. God wants to turn to Him when we are in need, when we are scared and afraid. If you have fear of the dental chair, you are not alone.

I have spent enough time in this space that my fear, over time, has slightly waned. I still hate the drilling and the initial "pinch" of that needle going in to numb my mouth, but I trust my dentist and am grateful I have a good one. In spite of that, when I take a seat, I always say a "Hail Mary." This prayer to Our Lady is my go-to prayer. I pray it in every possible circumstance as I trust Mary to look over me. What is your go-to prayer? Do you have one?
Offering this prayer centers me. I then ask God for peace of mind and heart. I pray for the success of whatever is before me—a crown filling, testing on my ICD, blood being drawn, etc. I pray for those who assist me in good health and I pray in thanksgiving for the health I have had. The Hail Mary is the prayer I begin with but I too pray mentally....I let my mind wander...and offer other prayers to God. It sure beats thinking about what is going on with my mouth. Give it a shot (pun not intended).

2. Sports Inventory

When I am finished with my prayers, I then commit to a mental exercise involving my favorite sports. In the past, I have often reviewed the NLCS and World Series MVPs for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 seasons. I keep these San Francisco Giant gems close to my heart. 

This past week, I decided to recall the host site of the US Open for men's golf since 2010. Some of my favorite courses, including my club have been fortunate enough to welcome championship play. I then moved to who won the tournament. I hate getting stuck, but when I can figure out the answer, I feel a mental victory from an unsuspecting place. This drill (again no pun intended) makes the time go by much faster. It is a welcome distraction and great follow up to prayer.
Future sites of the US Open.  New inventory to take!

Maybe you picture the 18 holes on your favorite course. Perhaps you remember the past 10 Super Bowls, the MVPs and host cities. I think my brother would recall the starting line-up of the San Francisco Giants from the 70s on to the 2020 season. Whatever you choose, I also recommend telling your dentist and his/her assistant what you were thinking about. They love when I bring my humanity to their work. I have a feeling we don't share our interests and passions because our fear grips us, but we are all better when we learn and share with one another.

This week ask others about their go-to prayer.
What fun mental inventories have you taken? 

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