Is prayer reserved for the religious? Who can and can’t claim that age-old ritual? What does prayer look and sound like in today’s world?
Prayer, meditation, crystal healing, chanting. If praying can be described as a singular meditation on a subject, then all of these practices can be considered prayer. Throughout history, people have turned to prayer as a safe-haven, a motivator, or a personal or community ritual. Prayer can bring us closer to humanity by broadening our sense of self, and removing the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of the ego. No matter what your prayer ritual looks like, connecting to a “higher power” in times of worry or questioning or gratitude can help us feel comforted or guided.
Prayer has been recognized for its healing powers throughout the world. In many trials, scientists found that prayer had numerous health benefits, including lowered blood pressure, lowered cortisol (stress hormone) levels, improved sleep, and improved digestion. It has been hypothesized that the quiet, contemplative nature of prayer stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to invoke a sense of peace.
Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D., a lecturer at Harvard, said on the topic, “It's clear from the correlational studies within the epidemiology data that positive relationships exist between religious and spiritual practice and health outcomes on a variety of different conditions.”
One way M.S Skincare founder, Anit Hora, enhances her prayer practice is by bringing in aromatherapy. She uses a small amount of AUM-a Restorative Body Oil-and chants the sound “AUM” to center herself. The lavender scent evokes a sense of calm and clarity, and in spreading a small amount of the oil on her hands and arms, she brings her awareness into her body to further focus on her intention and prayer.
Anit’s practice is also expressed through contemplative reading. She loves falling into books about yoga to home in on that feeling of greater awareness and comfort. A favorite book to meditate on is The Heart of Yoga, by T. K. V. Desikachar. Her favorite chapter, “Living in The World,” offers timeless advice on how to navigate the challenges of modern life.
To learn more ways that prayer and mindfulness enhance your health, here’s an interesting article from MindBodyGreen.