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.

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! 

Broadening Your Perspective

I recently watched an interview with Oprah and Mark Nepo, author of the best-seller, “The Book of Awakening“.  For anyone looking for a book full of small vignettes of inspiration, this is your book. 

As we finish our discussion on navigating through the pain and struggles of life, I wanted to share an excerpt from Nepo’s book, as he puts the concept of pain in perspective.

How Does it Taste?

An aging Hindu master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt.  When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. 

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the young man.

Peyto Lake

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake.  The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake”. 

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?” 

“Fresh”, remarked the apprentice. 

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. 

“No”, said the young man. 

At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, “The pain of life is pure salt;  no more, no less.  The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same.  But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in.  So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things….Stop being a glass.  Become a lake”.

Each of us, at different times in our lives, will experience some pain and struggles.  As raw and real as the experiences are, Nepo teaches us that when we broaden the space in our minds to house the pain, we start to taste the sweetness of life that still exists.

Living In Between the Answers

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. 

Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given to you, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything. 

Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”   -Ranier Maria Rilke

I first heard this quote read by my yoga instructor at the end of one of our sessions.  It got me thinking about how much we try to make sense of things that happen around us – especially, when they involve pain and suffering. 

We spoke Monday about learning how to ride the wave of our lives.  How do we navigate through the inevitable turmoil, stress, and pain that are part of the natural wave?  What can we do to nurture ourselves as we move through the challenges?  I came up with a few strategies.

1.  Take a moment.  Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling.  If emotions arise, let them come to the surface, instead of pushing them down.  Take time out of your day to be still – even if it’s only for a few minutes.  Too often, we try to fill our days so we don’t have to feel, when in reality, giving our emotions the space they need, will help cleanse the mind. 

2.  Move your Body.  We all know how closely linked our minds and bodies are.  During times of high stress, exercising is a great remedy.  Maybe you take a walk outdoors and breathe in some fresh air.  Perhaps, you sign up for a yoga class.  Maybe you recruit a good friend to be a running buddy.  Make some form of exercise a priority.

3.  Find Support.  Remember, we can’t go through life alone.  Lean on the people in your life that you trust and who have your best interest at heart.  Share your feelings, and allow them to be your safety net.  Often, we will find that those closest to us have gone through similar circumstances and give us solace that we are not alone.  Sometimes, that’s enough.

4.  Focus on Gratitude.  This is such a powerful tool to help us through any tough time.  Remind yourself of the things that are going right in your life (and, I guarantee, there are MANY).  I have a gratitude journal that I keep.  You may want to start by writing 5 things you are grateful for when you first start your day or before you go to bed.  There will soon be a shift in your perception.

5.  Feed your Soul.  There are many different ways to do this.  Give your soul the love it needs.  What are the simple things that give you pleasure?  Maybe it’s taking a warm bath or booking a massage for yourself.  Maybe you relish reading a good book on your couch.  Perhaps, you spend some quality time with your spouse or kids cooking a meal together.  How about that painting class you’ve been meaning to sign up for?  Whatever it is that brings you some small level of joy, provide it to yourself. 

6.  Accept Where You Are.  This is challenging for many of us.  We want so badly to be out of our circumstance.  But when we can fully embrace this time as just part of our journey, we realize that the wave never stands still.  It is always moving forward, as we will, too.    

Can you create some space to live between the answers?  Can you live and love the questions that arise? 

Searching for the Wave

In life, there are always ebbs and flows.  Just as the ocean waves have peaks and troughs, so do our life circumstances.  We all have stressors in our lives and situations that can bring about pain.  They could be physical discomforts, such as stubbing your toe or living with chronic back pain.  They could involve emotional upheavals, such as the end of a relationship or a painful past that you have yet to face.  There could be financial turmoil or the death of a loved one that prompts you to question your spiritual beliefs.  

Many people in my life have recently gone through life-changing circumstances, including myself.  The questions are always so similar.  How do I get through this?  What is this supposed to mean?  Which way do I go?  I was counseling someone the other day on moving through the pain.  I’ve learned that the only way out is through.  That literally means being present in full form, taking one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time.  It doesn’t mean that you have the answers, and most likely you won’t for some time.  It means that you just take the next step in the right direction.  That might mean that you commit to getting out of bed every morning, and that’s it.

They say that out of pain comes growth and transformation.  It’s difficult to believe when you’re in the midst of it all.  However, for many, it is a pivotal time in their lives.  It may be the first time that they reflect or ask questions of themselves that they couldn’t have imagined asking.  It involves exercising the mind in a completely different way.  It may feel sometimes like you’re walking directly into the fire.  Elizabeth Lessor, author of the best-seller, “Broken Open”, speaks about this beautifully in her book.  When we begin to take the next step in the right direction through our pain, we will eventually begin to feel subtle rises in our soul and in the wave of our lives.  **Check in Wednesday for some tips on navigating through stressors and painful times.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  Think back to a time in your life that you were in pain – physically, emotionally, or mentally.  How did that shape who you’ve become today?  Was there anything you learned from it?  If you’re in the midst of pain, can you tune into your breath, if only for a few moments?

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?