I was eight years old when my father sent me a letter from the British Virgin Islands telling me he couldn't be my father any longer. In short, the letter outlined how he had begun a new family with a new wife and a new daughter, my half sister. He included a snapshot of her in this letter to me. It was the first time I learned I had a baby sister, yet the excitement dwindled with the idea of never being able to see her or my father again. I sat in my room sobbing as my mother tried explaining the inexplicable. He had been a weekend dad since they divorced when I was three. Sometimes showing up for our Saturday dates and sometimes not. My mother had remarried someone very nice who wanted to be my dad, but he wasn't. For an eight year-old girl there is only one dad, yours.
As a result, I began to have a recurring nightmare every night for a year. It was the same one in which mean people did mean things. During my sleep I'd hurl myself out of bed and wake up on the floor. My mother did the best she could to soothe me and talked to me about the idea of lucid dreaming where I could be more of a participant in the dream, but nothing seemed to quiet it.
One night while lying in bed after my mother had finished with the bedtime stories, it dawned on me to begin talking with God. I'd never been raised with organized religion. I'd been christened Catholic, but my mother who was raised in a devout Catholic family decided she was going to leave it to me on what my belief system was. After attending a recent wedding for a family friend I had kept the program which had the Lord's Prayer printed on the back. Something about it was important to me. Something about it helped me belong in a world where I had just been shut out. So I began to read it at night. Pulling it out from beneath my mattress so my mother wouldn't see. It was my secret. I'd whisper the words every night until I memorized it completely. The night that I said the prayer by memory, by heart, I had the nightmare once again. But something different happened. I didn't fall out of bed. In fact when I woke there was a woman glowing in all white sitting on the edge of my bed. Without saying a word, she smiled, her mouth forming a crescent line, and placed her hand on my leg. Now I was still afraid of monsters in my closet, so this should have certainly rocked my world. And it did, but in a good way. I wasn't afraid, in fact I was comforted by this visit. After about 15 seconds she disappeared. I fell back asleep and slept soundly without that nightmare ever again. The following week a friend of ours who was psychic visited. I told him about this encounter and told me this was my Guardian Angel. It's been since that time that I cultivated a practice in prayer.
I still don't subscribe to any organized religion, but I most certainly pray. As human beings we have two polarities, a grounding connection and a universal connection. The grounding connection helps us to stay rooted in like a tree to the earth. It helps us source from a strong, stable wellspring. Our universal connection is like a giant radio antenna where we receive information from a higher wisdom and gain clarity on whatever we're navigating. So much of the time we become disconnected from these two poles and simply spin out. Remaining connected to our grounding and our universal connection not only keeps us from spinning out of control, but it helps us move more mindfully through the world.
There are hand positions called mudras which activate certain energies. We see these in meditation and yoga postures and we also see a very common hand mudra when hands are in prayer position at the heart's center. It's universal, this mudra and what it represents. Prayer is a direct communication with a source higher than ourselves. It's a shout out to the ethereal world where, rather than receiving instant communication in a real conversation, we're forced to pause, listen, open our periphery to signals meant just for us in the natural world.
The practice of prayer activates our crown chakra and also our heart chakra which emits its own electromagnetic field. So when we pray for another, we are not only setting intention, but also sending energy from our hearts. What power this is! Imagine what is emitted when an entire community of people prays for one of their own.
Prayer comes in many forms. I love quoting a dear friend and shaman who says, "Every breath is like a prayer." So when we say we get bored watching our breath in meditation, try viewing it from this angle. Every breath is your spirit saying a sweet, soft prayer. It can be that simple. I love beginning my day while still lying in bed with Pablo, my cat curled up on my head, my beau already up and brewing coffee, and placing one hand on my belly and one on my heart. It's in this quiet space of time that I get to take to connect, have a private conversation with my guides, angels, God and any other wise ones I can think to include. Yes, it's fine to pray to the parking gods for good parking karma or to cross fingers and pray that we get the winning lottery numbers, but is that really a conversation?
Praying is the cultivation of one of the most important relationships we will ever have. It's the relation to a higher source, a connection to ourselves and a key to how we can allow our own divine essence shine out into the world.
Have you experienced something special as a result of a prayer? Tell me about it in the comments below