Prayer And Meditation; An Inseparable Duo
I recently recorded a podcast on the power of Prayers but wanted to share this post with you too. I understand many people get “triggered” when we talk about Prayer. Instantly bringing into their mind a pre-conceived idea of a “Dictator God seating in a big chair in the sky and playing with our destiny”. So if Prayer and/or meditation seem very esoteric, religious or folkloric to you please keep an open mind and heart as you go through my writing. You might find a gem, the beginning of an answer, to some of the most pressing issues you and the world are facing.
I think I started to meditate 10 years ago when I moved to NYC. It's when I met my incredible teacher for some yoga classes and she would always start and end the class with a beautiful teaching inviting us into reflection and meditation, a prayer into self-reflection. In 10 years my practice came and went. Sometimes I was very connected to it; sometimes I stopped meditating for months or years. I explored various technics from the "easy" quick ones to a long 10-day silent retreat of Vipassana. Every time I learned, grew, and discovered new sides of myself, in the silence of my mind and body. Yet it would take until very recently (last year) for me to not only discover the essential power of Prayer but to connect it directly with the Meditation practice. I rarely envisioned both practices to be in truth so entangled with each other, being the Yin and the Yang of divine connection, two sides of the same coin. It became so evident that I wonder today why I never included a prayer practice while I was growing my meditation practice. It’s not the subject of my post here but I think it has a lot to do with my upbringing and also the cultural stigma around religion in our society. As I discovered the power to have the two practices melt with each other, I realize it was a way to truly engage in a dialogue with the Divine, our Higher Self and Universal Consciousness.
It became so powerful today that I wanted to share some personal reflections, and also how this could powerfully be used not only in your personal life but also at work. Yes at work! I see some of you smiling… Meditating at work... well may be, but prayer? “Come on!”... I don't work at or for a religious organization!
So let me share a beautiful testimony someone shared with me..."As a consultant I work with many different types of organizations. One of the organizations I worked for was a large Christian faith-based organization. Before every meeting the group would bow their heads in silence and someone would pray for the each member of the group. They would pray to resolve any issues and pray for a positive outcome. Before every meal, a prayer would be said. And every morning before business began, there would be a prayer, and, at the end of the workday, another prayer of thanks for the day and safe passage home. All this praying to me in a “business” context seemed ridiculous, time-consuming and a little cultish. But having been raised Christian, I went with the flow and tried to be respectful of this organization’s culture.
Then I went through a pretty devastating time period in my personal life. I was feeling low and I had a big presentation at this organization. I started the meeting, and one of the people in the group, asked me to wait, because he wanted to pray for me and the meeting. I was slightly annoyed, but I bowed my head and closed my eyes. The man started to pray for me. He asked God to help me in whatever trials I was facing in life, to give me strength, to give me grace. To fill me with light so I may lead others. To give our little group the insights and wisdom we needed and to send love to the world, especially to those in need. He said my name over and over in this prayer, asking God to protect me and love me.
And something inside me broke at that moment. The very act of someone praying for me revealed to me in a flash that prayer really does work. It is a spiritual act, a gift and something to be taken seriously. It is a lifeline to God. I felt whole, I felt loved and I felt the connection to the act of “prayer”.
After this experience happened to me, I started to really be present and connect more with all the prayers that were said around me at this organization. Very shortly after that, I started to not just look forward to the prayer time but really crave it when I was working at organizations that were secular.
I was once working with a tech company on a big pitch and I blurted out, “Let’s pray before we go into the meeting today.” This team looked at me with open disgust and a little pity. I could see in their eyes they thought I was nuts. But I didn’t feel that way anymore. Praying for the meeting, for all the people in my life that I encounter seems now to be so natural for me that it is part of the way I now live my life. Eating a meal without being thankful for the food and blessing the source it came from, simply feels so uncomfortable for me now, because I know there is a higher power at work in my life. So, yes, I am a believer in prayer. It is not about religion. It is about intention, a loving energy and kindness or belief that we can support and strengthen each other throughout the day with the power of our words. I believe our prayers are heard and I have plenty of proof of that in my own life." T.P., New York
So why Prayer and Meditation together? Why is it an inseparable duo? Think of it as if you were trying to walk or run - but with only one leg! That is why they are inseparable.
When we pray, we TALK with the Divine (our higher-self, the universe, universal consciousness). When we meditate we silence our mind and body to LISTEN to the Divine.
As in any conversation, unless we clearly express our needs, our needs can’t be heard, received or met. If only one side is engaged in a conversation, well, it’s a monologue, it’s not a conversation at all, and there is a big chance we won't evolve much or learn much.
I learned this the hard way as I always had a tendency to not listen with attention. To not be mindful of the voices of others. I lost a few friendships for this. It was painful. Very painful. So it pierced my Heart in the right place and seeded a change in it. Slowly I would start to listen, ask, pay attention more. Slowly, very slowly I learned and am still learning. I would give each person time to talk, and a time to be heard. Prayer and Meditation is a divine duo. Talking And Listening. I pay attention to something much bigger than myself which might not have a voice as loud or might express Itself in a different way than I express myself. Prayer and Meditation also becomes an exercise in humility and humbleness.
It’s now part of my daily morning practice. Prayer, Meditation, Reading & Writing. Starting the day by immediately doing this practice has changed my life in incredible ways. I get more guidance for my work and my life. I experience more presence, less anxiety, better sleep, increased clarity for my day, and, an endless list of benefits. In fact, I am recommending all my clients to start their day with this morning practice. And, all those who did it have seen a profound shift, profound healing, and profound transformation.
As I work on a new venture, and with clients, I have shifted the way I “find” answers from a 100% rational left-brain driven process, to a more balanced approach where my right brain and my heart can talk. I step back regularly during my day, go to Nature, play my drum, pray and meditate, have much better answers and wisdom come. I find much better ways to resolve conflict, find solutions and move forward. Much better ways to understand others, forgive them and become merciful.
It's really like having an endless source of wisdom talking directly to me. The only thing we have to do is develop an inner silence, a connection to Him, so we can learn His language, hear His voice.
Is it easy? Not always. Often it's hard. Very hard. You can't crush over 25 years of Western left brain education and patterns in a few weeks or months. It’s a major learning curve where humbleness is part of every step, and where our Ego gets crushed permanently. We can’t force anything. We don’t control anything. The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. Yet I feel more and more that I am experiencing a profound wisdom that is growing powerfully inside me during this process. If you never tried to incorporate Prayer in your life or “attached” it to your meditation practice, I hope this post will have open your curiosity and your heart. Maybe some of the thoughts I share on the podcast interview here might also help. I cannot not share enough how much joy, happiness, wisdom and humility a prayer practice has brought to my life – and ultimately true lasting transformation. This practice has a powerful ripple effect on all aspects of my life, relationships and work. Incorporating both Meditation and Prayer has brought a true beauty and peace to my life.
What is your practice? Did you experience the same transformation with Prayers and Meditation? How do you use this in your daily life? Are there stories of people around you who were transformed by such practice? I would love to hear about it in the comments below about this post and this podcast.
I believe this can transform individuals, families, communities as well as business leaders and their organizations.
If you need help to start a morning practice as well as help to learn to meditate, contact me at The Sanctuary.
Blessings to you all,