Gratitude Month: 10 mins of Prayer
Wikipedia presents the definition of the word prayer as: an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.
I’d like to highlight the “deliberate communication” here. Prayer to me means a way to communicate our deepest intentions. To ourselves, and/or to a higher consciousness, if we believe in one.
Either ways, setting aside a few minutes to communicate and meditate upon our wishes, dreams, and intentions for the day could help us in more ways than one. Most importantly, prayers could be used as means to communicate our gratitude for the things we enjoy. Prayers help us remind ourselves of all the things that keep us alive, and going; it could include sharing gratitude for people – our friends, family, and community, to systems and processes – convenience stores, protected lands, transportation, to nature – for its abundance and still generously nurturing us despite climate emergency.
Since childhood I have been exposed to an environment in which rituals were followed religiously. Waking up to divine aromas, loud chants and mantras, and well decorated idols in the puja room are vivid memories I carry with me. It brought a sense of calm, and rootedness in me. It gave a sense of strength, that there is someone watching over me, is there to protect me, to support me, to lift me up. I could attribute some amount of my inner strength being built because of these traditions, rituals which instilled a deep faith in a power higher than myself.
Then, like everyone, I grew up. Rejecting some of the traditions, seeking new ones, and rebelling against practices I did not understand. From calling it God, to Higher Power, to Super Consciousness, to Love, to Inner Awakening, my journey with labeling this is on an evolving path.
However, in my heart, I continue to believe in a larger purpose, a calling, a seeking. I think that I am on this path to figure something out. That has not wavered much. This quest to see what else I do not know about my being gets me going on a daily basis. This thirst to go beyond the mortal world, to understand what life and death is, to dive into the depths of finding the Truth, makes me want to learn, and be open. Sometimes to even not take myself way too seriously.
Now, don’t let me drown you in my ruminations.
Here are some pointers that could be useful to you as you begin to express gratitude this January.
How to pray?
Prayers can take multiple forms. I am sure there are just as many ways to pray as there are stars in the sky.
You can say out loud a prayer that you feel drawn to. This one predominantly relies on the use of words, its meaning, and the message you want to communicate or assert to yourself. I looked up for some universal prayer examples, which might be acceptable for people from different walks of life. You could explore some for yourself and pick the one that suits you well.
If you are in a hurry, feel free to use one of these.
Credits: Google search results
Sometimes you could choose to meditate. Being silent, calm, and focusing on nothingness could bring a sense of stillness in us. While in the first few days the overpour of thoughts can be very distracting, eventually, the noise will fade away on its own. In those few moments, we can express our gratitude and fill in our body, mind, and soul with positive energy and nourishment.
For some, performing some actions, movement, could mean praying. For example, my parents spent time decorating the puja room with flowers, drawing kolams, lighting a lamp, watering the tulsi plant, and offering kumkum and haldi to represent prosperity meant doing puja. For some of my friends, visiting a temple, and doing pradakshina (or circumambulation) meant praying.
There are various devotional music available on Spotify and SoundCloud or good-old-TV. Playing some chants, songs, and recitations, could also signify a form of praying. These sound vibrations in the background as you prepare your cup of coffee, or cooking breakfast, could also bring a certain sense of devotion for some of us.
Developing a routine
One thing I have noticed which helps is to develop a routine to offer prayers. Pick one that suits you the best. It might help to try a few out before you choose to hang on to one routine.
- Fix a time: Choose to pray when you wake up, or right after your shower, or before you hit the sleep button. Remain committed to a particular time so it becomes a habit.
- Fix a mode: Once you try different ways of praying (those listed above) you could pick one or a combination (e.g. ideas under music + actions) that works best for you. Stick to this mode to be able to observe the effects of this routine in managing your everyday mood, and beingness.
- Fix a space: You do not need a fancy space – but whichever space you choose, hold on to it. Go to that spot/place whenever you want to pray. This repetition can by itself have some healing effects.
But why pray at all?
I could do a mini literature review and present to you why you may want to choose to pray. But I will list a few reasons here, without citations. 🙂
When we say prayers out loud, any prayer you may choose, you would notice that you are not praying just for yourself. The prayers include you, your family, friends, and the larger community that you are part of – to be precise, the entire humanity and the nature that nourishes us. We pray for them all. This repetitive exercise develops a sense of compassion to your fellow beings. It could help us be just a little kinder to others around us.
A gentle reminder
Sometimes prayers will help us remind ourselves of our intentions for the day. We may also seek blessings to succeed in a venture/task, to ace an exam, to find the right partner, to be a good person. Thus these prayers help us remind ourselves of our goals, purpose, and intentions. When we think about our goals, purpose, and intentions on a daily basis, it helps us achieve clarity, deepen our focus, and thereby achieve results in an effective fashion.
Prayer can instill a positive feeling in us. The 10 odd minutes we will allocate for prayer can help us lower our frequency with which our brain waves move. It heightens our sense of awareness and thereby makes us more present in the moment. These positive vibrations in turn have a direct impact on the energy levels we carry with us for the rest of the day. It may just even rub onto the people we share spaces with and make the day slightly better.
This is a biggie. Through prayers, when we believe in something that is larger than our own selves, we let go a part of our ego. We feel it is okay to not be the center of the world. We feel connected to something larger, and thereby develop a sense of belonging. We begin to reflect on the impermanence of everything around us and grow a little humbler.
We start to cherish what we have in this moment and appreciate it more explicitly. We may even start to take ourselves less seriously – the world won’t stop if we stop, you know? We can be gentler, kinder, and forgiving of our own selves, and hence love ourselves a little more. The ripple effect is there is more love to share than hate. Ironically, in reducing ourselves a little bit, makes us part of something so huge, and liberates us from the unfounded burdens associated with human life and mortality. It helps us build perspective on who we are, why we are here, and what we have set out to do. Maybe.
I hope you found this useful. Do share any questions you may have.
Also let us know how you pray, how it helps you (if it does).
Lots of love,
Your Inner Companion.