After I meditate and lift up needs that I see, I usually chant a hymn and a psalm from the simple and beautiful chant of the Camaldolese Monks in Big Sur CA. I then spend a bit of time in some spiritual reading. I currently read one of the readings from Vigils in the Benedictine Daily Prayer published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN. I also like to do a reading from the Carmelites of Indianapolis’ Companion to the Breviary. I find this book of Morning and Evening Prayer filled with thought provoking readings and prayers and I like their use of inclusive language. Just do a Google search and you’ll be able to find it. There is a one volume version and a two volume version.
Recently I also end my reading with a short passage from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. I find his insights very, very helpful. I use his book more like a meditation book that daily reminds me of good practice, rather than something that I read at a sitting and then put down. I find myself going back to his book again and again. He also has a nice shorter version out for this pupose called: Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations and Exercises from The Power of Now.
Currently, the reason why I read both ancient and modern texts is that I like to compare the wisdom that comes from both. I find that there are many similarities. Good modern sources, like Tolle’s works simply put many much of the wisdom of ancients texts in fresh language and make it accessible to the masses. Of course, as far as ancient texts go I am most familiar with Judeo-Christian texts. However I would like to begin reading other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text or the Koran.
A brief comment on reading and praying. I know this may sound like a LOT, but it’s not so much about how much is read. The passages are pretty brief. It’s more about reading slowly and with awareness. Christian monks speak of “Lectio Divina,” or Divine Reading – Sacred Reading. It’s simply a practice of reading slowly and with awareness, conscious that these words have Power and are able to change and form us. If a particular line hits me, I STOP and stay with it for a while and let it sink in.
Another word about reading and prayer in general. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a lot of different “things.” Keep it simple, especially at first. Just use some reading that is a thought provoking and life changing and just do a LITTLE each day. Again, a little bit done consistently is better than a lot done sporadically.
I end this time of meditation, prayer and reading with some concluding prayer, usually taken from the intercessions and closing prayer of the day from the Companion to the Breviary.