Expand Your Spiritual Practice with Prayer & MeditationMarch 8, 2019
Whether you all it prayer or meditation, everyone can benefit from taking time out of their day to sit in peace and quiet. In fact, many scientific studies show that a regular meditation or prayer practice helps lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and can reshape the way you think, feel, and respond to the people and events in your daily life.
While it’s easy to understand the benefits of a daily prayer/meditation practice, it can be much more difficult to implement. If you find yourself growing bored with your routine practice, don’t be afraid to shake it up and try some of these suggested prayer/meditation practices.
For best results, stick with one practice for at least a week. At the end of the time, you can explore whether or not you want to continue with it or try something else. As with many things in life, the results of a new meditation practice are not always apparent at first, so be patient and give it time!
The Sound of Silence
Take a cue from monastic life and set aside five minutes a day to sit in silence. During this time, observe your thoughts and feelings and set them aside for later or pretend they are a red balloon you release to the sky. It may help you to focus on a particular image or a specific word, such as mercy or thankful. If you still struggle with the practice, try to think of it as the time during a conversation in which you are listening. If prayer is a conversation with Divine forces, you have to set aside time to listen to the answer!
Help for Others
Dedicate your time in prayer/meditation to others. Whether you pray for family members, friends, or people in the news, intercessory prayer is a powerful way to send love and healing to your family, friends, or even people in the news. To help yourself recognize the full power of this practice, tell the people in your life that you are praying for them.
Breath is central to life. Harness the power of this involuntary action by using your breath as the focal point of your meditation. There are many different techniques to try, so don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you. Some of the most popular practices are to breathe in for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four. If that doesn’t work for you, try focusing on a simple phrase like “gratitude” or “forgiveness” as you inhale and exhale a word such as “anger” or “negativity.”
While this prayer is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition, you can modify the practice to suit your personal spiritual beliefs. The practice of a daily examen starts with a review of your day. Think back to the events and interactions you had and notice what sticks out to you the most. Make special note of when you felt Divine forces at work in your life and give thanks. One critical component of this practice is to acknowledge when you were not your best and ask for help at doing better.
It’s important to note that many prayer or meditation practices can be modified to accommodate your personal spiritual beliefs. If you are searching for ways to grow in your spirituality, research and incorporate practices of a different belief. You may just surprise yourself!