Prayer and Meditation by Dr Candess M Campbell, #1 Best-selling Author, Intuitive Mentor, Speaker, International Psychic Medium Healer.
In this series on self-healing and transformation, prayer and meditation play an important part. Given these writings are from the book 12 Weeks to Self-Healing: Transforming Pain through Energy Medicine, this Live Encounters article will not be a overview of world wide prayer and meditation practices, but rather some of my own experiences and some tools for developing a practice.
When you have experienced pain or illness for a long period, I would imagine you turned to prayer. In exploring how important prayer is, let’s examine and revisit the way in which you pray.
A verse in the Christian New Testament Bible assures that, “You will receive all that you pray for, provided you have faith” (Matthew 21:22). The way your parents and grandparents prayed may be different from how you pray today. Dr. Larry Dossey writes extensively about the power of prayer and healing in his 1993 book, Healing Words. In it, he cites a study by Herbert Benson of Harvard University Medical School.
Working with his fellow researcher and physiologist, Robert Keith Wallace, Benson showed that when subjects meditated with a mantra that consisted of an Asian word containing no meaning for the meditator, with use it became charged with ritualistic value, and healthful body changes occurred. These included lower blood pressure, slower heart rate, and lower metabolic rates. Benson believed there was no magic in the mantra.
To test this suspicion, he taught people to meditate using the word one or any other phrase they found comfortable. He then studied Christians and Jews who prayed regularly. He asked Catholics to use mantra phrases such as “Hail Mary, full of grace,” or “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me.” Jews mainly used either the peace greeting of shalom or echad, which means “one.” Protestants frequently chose the first line of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father who art in heaven,” or “The Lord is my shepherd,” which is the opening of the Twenty-third Psalm. All of the mantras worked, and all were equally effective in stimulating the healthful physiological changes in the body that Benson called the “relaxation response.” But Benson also found that those who used the word one, or similar simple phrases, didn’t stick with the program. Conversely, those who used prayers rather than meaningless phrases continued.
One way to pray is to be repetitive and this study shows using a word or words that are meaningful to you, affect your consistency. If you have ever used prayer beads or the rosary, you know this. Recital is another form of prayer. Many people use scripture from their religion as prayer. They may do this repetitively, or they may read scripture and then reflect on what it means. Others talk to God, Buddha, Allah, or their Higher Power as they would to a friend. I have often heard it said that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is listening.
Journaling is another way to connect with the Divine. “Dear God” letters are often effective in clarifying where you have become stuck. Having a heart full of gratitude is another way of praying. When you expand your view of prayer this way, you may find that you pray often through the day. I am a believer in the notion that whatever we focus on becomes greater and grander in our lives, so take some time to focus on gratitude and love. See how this affects your pain.
Before I share with you about meditation, I want to acknowledge that you may experience resistance to meditation at first. You may be fearful to sit and really experience what you are thinking or feeling, or you may not want to become aware of the sensations in your body. Even this morning as I awoke, I quickly shifted my thoughts from meditation to something else. Why did I do that? Why was I so afraid to listen to what my mind was saying? Usually I awake with new ideas and plans and creative ventures. This morning I didn’t want to hear what I was thinking. I went back to catch the thought, and it was gone. When I sat up to read on my Kindle, I felt good. I looked at the calendar in my iPhone, and my day was set to write. It was a good day. What was I afraid to think about? I am sure it will surface in my meditation.
You may have this same experience. You may think there is just too much information in your mind, and you would never be able to quiet yourself, but it’s really not so difficult. Take a moment and just sit with your eyes open. Look at what is in front of you. Look at whatever you see and focus on the detail. Experience your senses. Feel the chair under you. Notice how your breath changes. You are becoming more aware, more awake, more alive, and you are beginning to come to a meditative state. Another way to do this is to close your eyes and listen. Listen to the sounds that are far away. Now listen to the sounds that are close by. Allow yourself to become more aware and more meditative!
Here are a few choices to begin a meditation practice.
When practicing concentration meditation, you focus your attention on your breath, an image, or a sound (mantra) in order to still your mind and allow a greater awareness and clarity to emerge. This is similar to zooming in and narrowing the focus to a particular object or field.
The most common meditation practice is focusing on your breath. Through this continued focus, the “mind clutter” begins to quiet, and you gain a sense of calmness and relaxation. Over time and with practice, the thoughts that were once racing or popping into your mind calm down, and a sense of peace takes over. As you focus on the breath, the rhythmic inhalation and exhalation deepens the breathing, and your mind and body become tranquil.
A more intense practice of focusing on the breath is pranayama breathing, which is a yogic practice. According to Swami Sivananda Rhada, this is a process of breath control. She says the purpose of this type of meditation is to connect with the cosmos and gain control over your central nervous system and mind. It is best practiced with character building and to learn to manage the lower physical self. This is a practice of alternate nostril breathing. “Character building” and “managing your lower physical self” means taking control over your thoughts and behaviors that no longer serve you, while creating new, positive, healthy thoughts and behaviors.
I first became aware of pranayama breathing when I traveled to India with a friend of mine who has a home in India but currently lives in the United States. He said that his uncle taught him this practice. When we were at his home in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), he sat cross-legged on the floor every morning and practiced this breathing for twenty to thirty minutes. This practice increases the alpha waves, and the benefits if executed correctly are to calm the mind, gain control over the emotions, refine the senses, and remove all selfish desires while gaining a sense of peace and harmony. It has also been said to balance the right and left brain.
Various teachers may instruct you to do this differently, but a simple method follows:
- Close the right nostril with your right thumb, and inhale through the left nostril to the count of four seconds.
- Then close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger. At the same time, remove your thumb from the right nostril. Exhale through this nostril to the count of eight seconds.
- Next, inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds. Close your right nostril with your right thumb, and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight seconds.
- This is one round. It is recommended to start slowly with a few rounds and build up.
Focusing on an Object
Focusing on an object is another choice for concentration meditation. There are several objects you can use, but I suggest you find one that is pleasing to you. You could focus on an external object such as a candle flame, a bowl, a flower, or a photo of someone you love. You could also choose a photo of Jesus, Buddha, or an angel. Another method is to focus in the center of your head—the space above and behind your eyes, in the middle of your head. This is a place of neutrality. You may instead choose to focus either between your eyes or in the center of your heart. Another commonplace to practice focus is in your belly, three fingers below your belly button and inside a few inches. The conscious focus in the above examples is on the candle, photo, or particular body part. However, in focusing on those literal objects, you become aware of the breathing as well, and you experience a calm, relaxed, tranquil state of being.
Using a Mantra
A third concentration meditation involves using a mantra. A mantra is a short phrase with an easy rhythm used to increase results. A mantra is used to suggest a favorable state of being. My favorite walking mantra is, “I am strong, healthy, and fit.” Mantras originated in the Vedic tradition of enlightenment in India and have since been incorporated by many traditions.
According to “The Power of Mantra Chanting,” an article by Gyan Rajhans, “The sacred utterances or chanting of Sanskrit Mantras provide us with the power to attain our goals and lift ourselves from the ordinary to the higher level of consciousness.” This is believed to be so because “different sounds have different effects on the human psyche.” Repeating a mantra is a spiritual technique that calms the mind and makes one more attuned to Spirit.
The practice of mindfulness meditation comes from Buddhism and has been also been taught by many in the West. In mindfulness meditation, you focus on the present moment and not the past or the future. While you notice your thoughts, you realize that they are just thoughts and let them go by. This is done with awareness that that your thoughts are simply your thoughts, and that you are not your thoughts. This meditation can be done at any time. It is a daily practice of awareness in the present moment.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness meditation. One that I particularly enjoy is to focus on the sounds close by and then the sounds that are far away. This takes me into a state of meditation that I enjoy, which is just being present.
Guided meditation is similar to hypnotherapy. In guided meditation, a person or a recorded script guides you into a meditative state. You can also take yourself through guided imagery with a script or with awareness of the images you would like to create.
As with hypnotherapy, guided imagery uses all of your senses, yet guided imagery is different in that it focuses and directs your imagination. When your mind is imagining, your body responds as if what it sees is true. An example of this might include imagining a vacation. Let’s pick a beach resort. As you are sitting at your desk at work, you find yourself drifting to the beach, feeling the sun on your face, smelling the sea, and imaging the taste of a fresh, cold lemonade next to you. Your body may relax as your breathing slows down and time speeds up. This is an example of going into trance and experiencing whatever you imagine.
Guided imagery is used for many purposes, and the imagery selected will depend on your goal. For instance, if you want to manage your pain, the imagery may be full of metaphors that help you to connect with your subconscious mind. For example, when I awake in the morning with pain in my neck from sleeping, during meditation I image a blue light coming down from the top of my head into the painful areas of my neck and shoulders. As I do this, I see the blue light cooling off the inflammation in my neck and shoulders. Within a minute or so, the pain is gone. (Remember that I have been practicing for quite some time, and this technique is a result of the practice. Do not be discouraged if you try this and it does not work for you immediately. Keep practicing!)
If you are interested in learning a guided meditation that teaches you self-healing tools and takes you through a process of clearing your chakras, you can use my CD, Chakra Clearing.
Make no mistake, whether prayer or meditation, the process stills the chatter and voices within so you can hear your own inner guidance—the voice of the Divine, God, the Goddess or your Guides. Prayer and meditation allow you to open yourself to wisdom and healing beyond what your Ego dictates or allows. No matter what you call it, when you achieve inner peace, you affect the world around you by increasing the peace of others.
Candess M. Campbell, PhD is the author of the #1 Best-selling book on Amazon, 12 Weeks to Self-Healing: Transforming Pain through Energy Medicine and Live Intuitively: Journal the Wisdom of your Soul. She is an internationally known Author, Speaker, Intuitive Coach and Mentor and Psychic Medium. She specializes in assisting others to regain their own personal power, develop their intuition and live a life of abundance, happiness, and joy.
She specializes in DNA Activation and Karmic Clearing with a group of Ascended Masters called The Lords of Karma who include the Great Divine Director, El Morya, St. Germain, Maitreya, Kuthumi, Athena, Kwan-Yin, Clyclopea, Mary, Sananda and Lady Portia. Candess has been guided by this group of Masters since she was young.
At the core of her business, Vesta Enterprises, Inc., is the belief that all healing is self-healing and that becoming conscious and making positive changes increases one’s personal power and enjoyment of life. Firmly maintaining that people grow and benefit from feeling safe and receiving, her life’s work is in bridging spirituality and mainstream beliefs to promote and foster healing at all levels. http://energymedicinedna.com
© Dr Candess M Campbell