Prayer is the practice of connecting to something deeper and more meaningful in life. It is rooted in a sense of spirituality. Prayer has two dimensions, one internal in the form of self-reflection and self-awareness, and the other external in a sense of connection with a depth, something bigger than the self and an inner dependency with all the other creation. Prayer, when done with the right awareness and intention and in moderation, can be beneficial in a number of ways:
1. It can give people a moderate sense of optimism and a healthy dose of hope. Optimism that there is more than the tip of the iceberg to life, and hope that when things do not go the way one wants despite reasonable effort, that there are other options.
2. It can help people cultivate a sense of gratitude. Prayer gives the person a quiet moment to use the time to appreciate the positive in life and to remember that at any moment, there is so much more positive than negative to life. And that sometimes, what seems negative may be otherwise.
3. It can help people delay gratification and control impulsive actions. By using this time to calm your mind, you can evaluate situations to see if it would create any harm and if it does, to stop yourself from doing it.
4. It can give people time to be able to see things from a broader perspective and that by itself can help with obsessive acts and compulsive thought or limited thinking.
5. It can help people find commonality and beauty in diversity. By reflecting on what Carl Jung calls the collective unconscious, people realize that they are sharing many of the same needs, desires, essence and beliefs as others, at the root.
6. It can help people focus and concentrate. By taking a break from the daily activities and doing a quiet time, one is able to use it to train his brain to be focused on the here and now.
7. It can help people forgive easier, and detach from the past and move forward.
8. It can give people a sense of security that they are connected to a depth in life.
9. It can give people a sense of comfort, being at ease and being protected, therefore decreasing too much anxiety and irrational fear.
10. It can be used as a time to cultivate rational thinking.
11. It can give people new and creative ways to solve their problems.
12. It can help people unleash.
13. It can be used as a time to learn how to connect better to others and to increase one's emotional/social maturity.
14. It can be used as a time of self-affirmation to increase one's confidence.
And remember, by repeating a series of meaningful, positive, lifting, and thankful phrases, you can retrain your brain to be more positive, be aware, be able to focus and concentrate and to let go of unwanted thoughts.
Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD
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