The Relationship Between Prayer and Meditation
Over the last few months, I've found myself praying after meditating. It evolved on its own, organically, sort of just happening at the end of every meditation. When I say "praying" I mean offering myself up to the Universe, giving of myself, and sending out energy and sometimes requests, questions, and private thoughts to the Source and my all knowing Self. I have found that after meditation, my prayers feel more filled with integrity and hold a vitality that carries me through the day.
Today I had an incredibly profound moment at the end of my prayer wherein I heard in my mind an affirmation:
I am an instrument of light for the Universe, bringing hope where there is none, Love where there is fear, & light where there is darkness.I found myself reciting this over and over in my mind and eventually out loud. It carried such a loving and compassionate energy that I'm committed to beginning my day with this affirmation hence forth.
This experience caused me to really reflect on prayer and meditation and their interconnectedness. As I was thinking about this, I was also looking through my bookshelf for some guidance, when I came across The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice by Thich Nhat Hanh. I bought this book some time ago, put it on my bookshelf and essentially forgot about it until today.
As I read through the pages, I felt that Thich Nhat Hanh was touching on a Spiritual Truth that I was resonating quite strongly with. Here are some excerpts that stood out to me:
...the one who prays and the one prayed to are two realities that cannot be separated from each other. This is basic in Buddhism, and I'm quite sure that in every religion there are those who have practiced for a long time and have this understanding. They can see that God is in our heart. God is us and we are God. The entire visualization gatha [hymn] goes like this:
The one who bows and the one who is bowed to are both, by nature empty.
Therefore the communication between us is inexpressibly perfect (pg. 42).
This of course, is not an entirely new concept to many of us, but hearing it from a Buddhist angle adds some new perspective for me. He goes on to talk about how two elements are necessary for effective prayer:
1.) The communication between ourselves and the one we are praying to. Because we and the one we are praying to are interconnected, our communication is not dependent on time and space. When we meditate on this, communication is realized straight away and we are linked. At this point, there is electricity in the wire (pg. 42).
2.) The second element we need for prayer is energy. We have connected to the telephone wire, now we need to send an electric current through it (pg.42).
And here's where I had one of those big "ah-ha" moments of clarity and awareness:
I can't really add more since Thich Nhat Hanh said it so beautifully. I can say that I do have an incredible sense of gratitude in being able to connect with the affirmation I mentioned above and to have stumbled upon this reading to deepen my practice and increase my understanding. The word gratitude comes to mind.
In prayer, the electric current is love, mindfulness and right concentration. Mindfulness is the real presence of our body and our mind. Our body and our mind are directed toward one point, the present moment. If this is lacking, we are not able to pray, no matter what our faith. If you are not present, who is praying? [emphasis mine].
To pray effectively, our body and mind must dwell peacefully in the present moment. When you have mindfulness, then you have concentration. This is the condition that will lead to prajna, the Sanskrit word for insight and transcendent wisdom. Without that, our prayer is just superstition (pg. 43-44).
I would love to hear your impressions, etc.
...And in case you are interested in reading the book I was referring to, you can find it at Amazon by following the link below. I highly recommend it: