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.

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?

Warm Holiday Wishes

I wanted to take this moment to extend my warmest wishes to all my readers and their families for a happy holiday season.  I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to create this site in 2011.  You have all given me so much inspiration with your visits, comments and support to keep the Wellness Kriya site alive!  My hope is that it has been a little sanctuary to visit – a place to be inspired, motivated, and empowered to live your life with the highest wellness quotient.  We each have tremendous strength within us to navigate through all of life’s challenges and enough grace to relish in the goodness of it.  

For 2012, I challenge YOU to take risks in your life that expand you further than you thought possible, fuel your soul by exercising your mind and body, live authentically in the present moment, know that change is inevitable, and learn to embrace it by letting go of all that does not serve you, believe in spirit and be encouraged that something larger is working on you, through you and for you, be grateful for all that flows into your life.  May your lives continue to flourish in unimaginable ways!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You! 

Revealing Your Truth

borrowed from DailyOm.com

As we end our week’s discussion of truth, I stumbled upon a great post by Daily Om on allowing our essential authenticity to shine through.  Remember that our truth exists within us always, whether we express it or not. It is always living, breathing, and asking to be revealed.  In each life decision we make, we can either choose to follow what is innately true for us, or we can push it away.  Each one of us is unique and comes with our own blueprint that helps guide us.  What I’ve learned is that when we vere away from this guide, we limit ourselves from becoming the best version of ourselves.   

Thank you, DAILY OM, for the great reminder and a wonderful way to end the weekend.   Enjoy the link to one of my absolute favorite websites, full of many life lessons.

Your Center of Truth

Have you ever noticed that whenever you focus on something, somehow the universe mirrors it back to you?  We spoke Monday about knowing your truth.  The next evening at my power yoga class, the flow was focused on the “throat chakra” or the center of  truth.  Chakra is the Sanskrit word for “wheel”, and it is part of the energy force that lives within our bodies and spirit.  There are seven chakras, or channels that affect the body functions through our consciousness and awareness.  They are like pumps or valves that transmit energy throughout our body.

We feed our energy channels and, as a result, all of our vital organs by our thoughts and reactions to the stimuli in our environment.  The energy channel that correlates with our innate truth, exists in the throat.  It is through the throat and mouth that we express to the world who we are.  Only when we can be honest about who we are on a deeper level, can we express ourselves authentically.  Dishonesty, or even repressing our emotions and pushing them away into our subconscious, could manifest into various throat ailments.  It is through the pathway of our throat and mouth that we can create sounds, allowing us to vocalize freely the depth of who we are and who we hope to be.   Here are some associations to the the throat chakra courtesy of about.com:

  • Color– blue
  • Sanskrit Namevishuddha
  • Physical Location– throat, neck region
  • Purposes– learning to take responsibility for one’s own needs
  • Spiritual Lesson– confession, surrender personal will over to divine will, faith, truthfulness over deceit
  • Physical Dysfunctions– sore throat, mouth ulcers, scoliosis, swollen glands, thyroid dysfunctions, laryngitis, voice problems, gum or tooth problems, TMJ
  • Mental and Emotional Issues– personal expression, creativity, addiction, criticism, faith, decision making (choices), will, lack of authority
  • Information Stored Inside Throat Chakra– self-knowledge, truth, attitudes, hearing, taste, smell
  • Area of Body Governed – throat, thyroid, trachea, neck vertebrae, mouth, teeth, gums, esophagus, parathyroid, hypothalamus

How can you express your truth today?


More Life Lessons from an African Safari

No other place in the world has brought me such a feeling of closeness to life and the earth as when I was in Africa.  There was a feeling of connectedness to land and life in its beginnings.  It was the simplicity with which all creatures lived their lives.  Being on safari, I learned a few lessons from several of the animals.   *Click on the pictures to obtain larger images.

1.  Zebra.  I remember a pair of lions that were crouching in the grassy brush, plotting an attack on a herd of zebra.  They each scoped out a different direction.  I had to put my camera down and trade it for my binoculars to observe this rare opportunity.  To the dismay of the lions, the intuitiveness of one of the zebra pulled the herd in another direction and they all ran off.  There was no way for the zebra to actually see the lions from where he stood.  He just sensed it as I saw his ears twitch, his body contract and his face become more alert.  The lesson:  Don’t discount the power of your intuition.  Sometimes, that is the only guidance you receive to make a smart decision.

2.  Lion.  Though the example above showed how intuition can help guide one species, it shows the perseverence of another.  I doubt the pair of lions decided after that defeat to give up hunting.  Once again, it is survival of the fittest.  They must continue to try again in order to live.  The lesson:  Success only comes from perseverence.  Failures are the catalyst, or the fuel, that we can use to our advantage if we choose. 

3.  Cheetah.  The cheetah is a solitary animal, meaning it hunts and gathers on its own.  Though it is one of the fastest animals, it is also the most vulnerable.  If it gets sick or injured, it will likely starve to death.  The lesson:  You may think you can fly solo in life, but allowing others to lend a helping hand on your journey can make the flight smoother.

4.  Elephant.  The African elephant is the largest land mammal in the world.  When I looked into the eyes of these soulful creatures, I saw peace.  They are herbivores and pretty much stay out of the way of other animals.  And because of their size, they are rarely preyed upon.   Despite weighing between 6-7 tons, they walk quietly and are not aggresive animals.  The lesson:  No matter how powerful you are (literally or figuratively), true respect is earned through humility.

5.  Leopard.  We were lucky to see leopards on our safari, as they are usually camouflauged in trees in a distance.  They use trees to their advantage, as they are able to see an aerial view of the surroundings below.  They can take inventory and decide when to make a move.  The lesson:  Have a vision, do the research, and then act.  Your life depends on it.

I think animals have a lot to teach us.  So many of our wellness concepts are interwoven in them.  We may be more advanced from an evolutionary perspective, but sometimes there is much to learn from our primal predecessors.

Magnify Your Vision

We spoke yesterday about re-creating our dreams, or the mental images we hold in our minds.  In order to get what we want out of life, we have to have a roadmap.  The problem for many of us is that the map is not clear enough.  As we think about where we envision ourselves in our lives, oftentimes there is a mini-movie that runs through our heads.  Some of these movies are blurry and on mute.  Others depict a clear picture, with high volume.  The question is, “how can we sustain and attain the clear pictures?”  I came up with a few tactics that have worked for me and others I know.

1.  Be very clear in what you want and where you see yourself.   I think it helps to write it down.  I suggested in a previous post to write out 30 things you want to be, do, and have – an exercise I learned from Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles.  It’s a great exercise and forces you to become absolutely clear in what you want in each facet of your life.

2.  Develop daily affirmations or mantras.  You can infuse the things you wrote down above into your mind by affirming them in the present moment.  For example, if you want to run your first marathon and are beginning to train, you can say to yourself, “I am feeling healthy and alive as I cross the finish line of my marathon on January 1, 2012!”.  Make it specific and have a timeline.

3.  Create a vision board.  This is pretty powerful.  You can use a cork board and pin pictures of the life you want.  Maybe you want to travel to a particular country or envision yourself in a particular type of home.  Perhaps, you are longing to spend more time cultivating your hobby – whatever it is, bring your mental images to life by cutting out photos that depict the things you want.

4.  Be willing to do the work.  Nothing can come your way without your sustained efforts.  You have to be willing to work toward your goals diligently.  If you’re not motivated to do the work, maybe you need to re-evaluate your vision.  This isn’t a bad thing.  It allows you to become honest and clear with yourself. 

5.  Let go.  After doing everything you can, you have to let go and trust in the Universe or God – whatever the Higher Power is for you.  The way in which your desires eventually manifest may involve many twists and turns.  You have to leave room for growth and learning to occur along the way.

You may not know all the right steps to take on your  journey, but at least take the first step in magnifying your vision.  Maybe, like me, you are in the midst of re-creating a new vision for your life.  Don’t get hung up on how you will get there.  Just stay focused, do what’s in your control, and trust that you are moving closer to vision.