Power of Prayer

I know for sure that during the last month my dad was in the hospital, there were a lot of prayers from our family, friends, and community. Prayer has been one of the links to God/Universe/Higher Power that people have used for thousands of years. It’s, in essence, a way for us to surrender our deepest struggles to something greater than ourselves. We find solace in prayer.

Reasearch on the effects of prayer and healing has been mixed and controversial. One of the first research studies was conducted by Randolph Byrd, a cardiologist working at the University of California, San Francisco. He asked for a select group of people to pray for those that were hospitalized with cardiac issues. The study involved close to 400 patients, half of whom were to be prayed for and the half were not. No patient knew which group they were in. Byrd reported that those that were prayed for needed fewer drugs and were less likely to require ventilator support.

A more recent study, and probably the largest one on prayer and healing, was conducted by Harvard University Medical School cardiologist, Dr. Herbert Benson. It involved over 1800 patients, divided into 3 groups, 2 of which were prayed for by members of several congregations. Prayer was shown to not have any significant effect on outcomes.

We have to consider that there are so many variables that cannot be controlled in these studies. Perhaps, those that weren’t assigned a prayer group still had their families and friends praying for them. Possibly, just knowing the “potential” to be prayed for might have calmed patients. Maybe, their own beliefs and attitudes about health and wellbeing contributed to their healing. Perhaps, many were praying for themselves.

Whether it’s the power of prayer or a good attitude, people with a belief in a Higher Power are shown to have greater physical and mental wellbeing. Often, this belief creates a physical response in the body that is the opposite of stress reactions. We know for sure that there is, in fact, a mind/body link.

Whether or not research supports the power of prayer in healing does not truly matter to me. I know that prayer offers me connection – to a larger community and to a Divine Source. It clearly gives me and many others peace of mind. During illness, we may reach for that and allow that peace to wash over us. At the least, prayer has the ability to improve our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. And, for me, that’s enough!

What are your thoughts or experiences on this subject matter? Feel free to share.

Healing Energy

I have always believed in the power of prayer, but perhaps not nearly as zealously as I have over the past few weeks. As many of you know, I took a temporary leave from my job and writing to be with my father as he battled a life-threatening illness. When I arrived to see him at bedside in the hospital, the situation was in dire straits. Even so, the minute my dad saw me, there was a brightness in his eyes. He has since said, I brought with me positive energy that day.

Throughout the next couple days I spent with him at the hospital, I became acutely aware of the energy that was continuously brought into his room. Neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor introduced herself to all of us in her book, “Stroke of Insight” where she discusses her experience of having a stroke that blocked blood flow to the left side of her brain. This affected her speech and her logical/analytical reasoning. She still had the right side of the brain intact – the area that is more intuitive/perceptive. She mentions how she could perceive the energy that people brought with them by their body language, the way they spoke to her, or oftentimes dismissed her. The energy of others was all she could sense for a very long time, until the left side of the brain began to heal. After her recovery, she made the statement, “Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space”. Many people, including Oprah, now hang this plaque in their homes and workplaces.

I thought of this as I watched people coming in and out of my dad’s hospital room. In an instant, I could sense whether a doctor was compassionate toward him, whether a nurse was having a bad day, whether a technician enjoyed his job. What I realized was that every interaction created an effect on my dad’s demeanor. The smile from a housekeeper, a call light being answered promptly, the eye contact from a nurse – all impacted him and contributed to his healing. On the contrary, negative interactions brought upon anxiety and lack of motivation.

What I learned was that, no matter how small, we are constantly making impressions upon others. You can turn around someone’s bad day simply by a smile or a compliment. That person may then be inspired to do something nice for someone else. It’s a ripple effect and one that spreads a positive light, or energy into each space. Like Dr. Taylor suggested, we are all responsible for the energy we bring into each space we inhabit.

Thankfully, my dad is recovering and was discharged home last week. He has been doing remarkably well, and I am thankful for all the prayers. They certainly lifted him and surrounded him with love. There is certainly a powerful energy that we all emit whether we are present in a space or not. I’m glad I was able to be there and radiate my love for him. **Check back Wednesday for a discussion on the power of prayer.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness: This week, think about becoming mindful of the energy you bring into your own space – to your workplace, toward your spouse and children, to your gym, and to strangers. Pay attention to the responses and feedback you receive.

Thank you to all those who support the Wellness Kriya site! The site has been on temporary hold for a few weeks while I tend to an illness in the family.

I appreciate all the continued visits and comments to the posts. Please enjoy reading the archives. I hope to have some new insights posted soon.

Thanks for your readership! Many blessings to you all!

The Freedom in Love

As we approach the weekend, think about creating love in your life by exuding it from within. When we can feel it within ourselves first, it is easy to notice that it exists in every place, every experience, and in every breath. There is freedom to go in any and all directions when you carry love and compassion in your heart.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us…….

-Mother Teresa

Cultivating Compassion

We spoke Monday about LOVE and how important it is to first be kind and compassionate to ourselves. To me, love is really the inherent spirit that lives inside each of us. We are all born with an immense capacity to love and be loved. It is this driving force that fuels all relationships. Oftentimes, our experiences will dictate how we view ourselves and others. Perhaps, we gave our heart to someone once and got hurt. Maybe we were taught as a child to “be tough”. Possibly, we didn’t have loving behavior modeled to us. Whatever reasons we have had for building up our defenses against love, research now shows that we can change our brain circuitry by our thoughts and emotions.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that positive emotions, such as love, compassion, and kindness could be developed much like developing the skill to play an instrument. They found that brain circuitry was markedly changed after individuals engaged in compassion meditation, as Tibetan monks had done for years. It reaffirms that our thoughts and, more importantly, the emotions that go along with them, create physical responses in our bodies. And, if you think about it, these become the beliefs and perceptions we have of the world. We create our lives out of these perceptions.

How can we harness and practice loving-kindness in our lives? Although, I think silencing our minds and spending a few minutes each day to meditate creates astounding benefits, there are other simple tactics you can utilize.

Be still. Appreciate your uniqueness. Pause to take in the beauty of nature. Laugh. Eliminate self-criticism. Know that each person in your life is doing their best. Forgive those who have wronged you. Feed your soul. Be grateful for your trials and tribulations. Pray. Surrender to the Higher Power that lives within you.

How can you radiate love today?

The Greatest Love of All

I share a common global sentiment today as we grieve the recent loss of an amazing singer, Whitney Houston, who really brought a sound of sweetness to our ears like no other. I, like many other girls, grew up singing her tunes and attempting with immense fervor, through the small depth of my lungs, to hold the final note of her famous song, “The Greatest Love of All”.

It is fitting to discuss the concept of love as we remember her and embark upon Valentine’s Day tomorrow – a day we essentially celebrate love in all forms – not just the intimate love between two people, but the love we hold toward our families, friends, and most importantly, for ourselves. Loving ourselves, really means valuing who we are. It is a knowing that we are worthy and deserving of all that is good in life. I believe that each and every decision we make in our lives is in direct correlation with how much we value ourselves. Many times we vere off path, making decisions that mirror our thoughts of inadequacy, imperfection, and insecurity. Sometimes we fall short in pouring into our own souls, the love and care that will allow us to grow and prosper.

There is a certain energy that is emitted by someone who is filled with love. Unlike conceit or pretense, it comes from a place that is pure and authentic. I think children are born with this. Unfortunately, as we grow up, we are shaped by judgments, criticisms, projections by others who may not be happy within themselves. We begin living through their views of how we should be, act, and live. The concept of what love is becomes warped and confusing.

The truth is we all come into this world with a deeper richness, a soul, that is the essence of who we are. When we speak and live from this depth, we are always moving in the right direction. Many believe this is the Divine Spirit, God, or the Universe speaking to us, guiding us, challenging us to honor our own unique beauty and individuality. This is what I call LOVE. It is the most powerful energy that lives inside us.

“The Greatest Love of All” was a song whose lyrics I wanted to live by, even at a young age. It taught me that love really starts with yourself, and if you can honor that, you will inevitably create a ripple effect through the rest of the world. How do we do this? **Check back Wednesday to read more on Spirit and how to tap into this powerful energy.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness: What can you do this week to honor yourself? What makes you unique, and how can you celebrate that?

Shining Our Light

I am always amazed when we discuss a topic on our site, and then I see that same topic addressed somewhere else. I really do believe it’s put out in the forefront of my mind and thoughts, as soon as I share something with all of you.

We ended our discussion last week with the kriya of letting go. I had mentioned that it’s one of those life lessons that continues to show up in my life over and over again. I know it is partly because I continue to struggle with it. When I opened up my “Daily Om” devotion this morning, I came across the topic of Shedding Light on Ourselves. Reading the words of wisdom kind of jolted me. It was on the topic of letting go, but more importantly it gave us insight into the fundamental reason for our resistence to letting go – the idea that “there may be a deep seated part in us that doesn’t want to heal”.

It’s true, many times we just want to look away. It’s easier and less painful. The article woke me up to the idea that holding onto something that no longer serves us is really an illusion we create. The circumstance has usually already shifted by the time our mind catches up to the reality. And, by that time, all we have left to face is the truth. It is certainly a process and we heal in stages, but the first step is to want to heal.

Please click the link above to read this insightful article.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness: As you begin this week, can you slowly bring to your awareness the anchors in your life that are holding you back? What would it take for you to risk letting go and allowing more light to shine through you?

Going with the Flow

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not the kind of person who takes a passive approach to life.  I’m someone who creates a vision, sets goals, and focuses on pressing toward them.  I believe in sitting in the driver’s seat of life.  I believe in never taking “no” from someone who doesn’t have the power to tell you “yes”.  I am one of those people who will keep pressing on and on and, oftentimes, continue holding on during times I know I just need to quit.  I don’t mean quitting on my goals, but knowing when a situation has changed enough and perhaps leading me toward another path.   

Letting go, is one of the kriyas that I have long struggled with.  I’m sure there are many of you, like me, who feel the need to control everything in your life.  In fact, many of us try to manage the outcomes of our lives so much that we actually get in the way and sabotage the good that is flowing toward us.  Sometimes, our peripheral vision has more to show us if we just take our blinders off.  It opens us up to a bigger picture and opportunities that lie in the background. 

So, yes we need to continue to set goals or resolutions in the new year, but remember we always have the choice to re-evaluate and determine what is working for us.  When we know we’ve reached a dead-end, it’s best to back up and take a U-turn.  And an even better strategy other times?  Let go, take the passenger seat, and allow a greater force to guide us toward another destination.  I continue to learn this.

Have a Great Weekend!  

The Excitement of Change

As I enter this new year, I am full of hope and excitement. Like I mentioned in Monday’s post, I’ve learned that leaning into the many curve balls in life, prepares you for success. It is often these unexpected changes that are, in fact, the serendipitous moments that stretch you and allow you to grow. So, why do we always seem to resist change? Partly, because it is painful. It’s painful to shed an old layer of skin. It’s like a sunburn, as we wait for a new, stronger layer to emerge. But it’s a necessary part of life. It’s the only way we can become the best version of ourselves.

I wanted to include an exerpt of one of my posts from last year. The inspiration came from an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I caught myself rewinding the last 2 minutes over and over again to hear Dr. Meredith Grey’s voiceover talk about the concept of change. I’ve included it below:

“When we say things like, ‘people don’t change’, it drives scientists crazy. Because change is literally the only constant in all of science. Energy, matter – it’s always changing……morphing……merging…….growing……dying. It’s the way people try NOT to change that is unnatural – the way we cling to what things were instead of letting them be what they are; the way we cling to old memories instead of forming new ones; the way we insist on believing, despite every scientific indication, that anything in this lifetime is permanent. Change IS constant. How we experience change……..that’s up to us. It can feel like death, or it can feel like a second chance at life. If we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it, it can feel like pure adrenaline. Like at any moment, we can have another chance at life…….like at any moment, we can be born all over again”.

Remember, that when we can embrace change, we have a choice to reinvent ourselves. Like, Dr. Grey says, it can feel like pure adrenaline that becomes the fuel to push us forward. When we can expect that change WILL happen, we can begin to brew some excitement at the possibilities that lie before us. We get to choose whether we resist and stay wrapped up in our comfort zone, or we can choose to fly. This year, I’m choosing to see the world from all angles and embrace the unexpected. I hope you will, too!

A Serendipitous New Year

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I am positive I’m not alone when I say, “I can’t believe 2 weeks have already gone by in the new year!” It’s true, time waits for no one. The days, months, and years continue to move on whether we, ourselves, are ready or not. I know for me, I was more than ready to turn the page to 2012.

The past year was one full of change, challenge, and unpredictability for me. It was a year filled with many tough decisions. I had to take risks in order to move forward, even when I wasn’t always sure of the outcome. Though I didn’t choose nor love all the circumstances that arose during the year, I definitely felt that they opened up deeper parts of myself. I realized that unless we have challenges brought to the surface in our lives, we never really get to tap into our entire potential. We don’t know what we are capable of unless we are stretched beyond what we think is possible. But possibilities and boundaries are limitless. When we can recognize that only our perceptions create limits, we can finally appreciate the depth of the sky.

When I thought of the year in that way, my perception of it shifted. Instead of saying “good riddence”, I thought “thank God” for some of the moments. Maybe the year ahead will be that much smoother, because I am better equipped to handle the curve balls – not to resist and dodge them all the time, but to actually lean into them, even if I don’t catch each one.

At the end of each year, I do a re-cap in my journal of my life in that particular year – the ups, the downs, experiences embarked upon, opportunities yet to be explored, and the resulting serendipitous events that occured in that year. Serendipity is defined as, “making fortunate discoveries by accident or while searching for other things”. If we believe that life is a series of experiences that we are always learning and growing from, then each event in our life can be viewed as serendipitous, can’t it? Perhaps, we don’t see the fortuitousness in it until later, but maybe every cloud does, in fact, have a silver lining.

Like the rest of you, I am excited for a fresh, new start in 2012. I’m not one to set resolutions, but I do try to create some vision in my mind for what I want to do, be, and have by the end of the year. If it’s love I’m trying to draw into my life, how can I give it? If it’s a marathon I want to complete, what steps can I take to feel healthy and prepared for it? If I know for sure what I don’t want in my life, how can I seek out opportunities for what I do want? If we all keep our hearts and eyes open, and not fear the curve balls, we will know that serendipitous events occur all the time throughout the year.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness: Think about how the past year has prepared you for an even better year ahead. What tools do you have today, that you could only have obtained by your experiences from the past year? Where do you envision yourself at the end of 2012?