January is upon us. For me, this is no kidding time -- when I find myself either starting to implement that list of resolutions I made on New Year's Day or dropping them altogether. The first month of the year is also a soul-searching one for many of us:
• Is my life on track or completely off the rails?
• Am I happy with my relationships?
• Am I being a good parent, child, husband/wife, friend, sister, brother, co-worker?
• Do I have my priorities in the right order?
• Is my work what I want to be doing?
• Am I following my mission?
• How could I be a better person and more of service in the world?
... the list could go on for miles.
Here's a new and different resolution that can last you a lifetime and not fizzle out within a few days. (It may even benefit you more than that resolve to do a half hour more each day on the elliptical!) Here it is:
Commit to praying more and worrying less...
... and you'll find that the two are often very interconnected. Do your praying on a daily basis and, wonder of wonders, you just might see your stress and anxiety levels diminishing on their own. You also might realize that, as for most of us, your problems and worries really do reside primarily between the ears.
The purpose of prayer is to align the mind with a higher consciousness and to foster an intimate relationship with the Source. We can so easily wake up in the morning and immediately become a slave to the details of life, silently reciting the ongoing "to do" list buzzing in our heads, entering the day full of mindless hustle and bustle. Or, we can choose to take fifteen minutes to become grounded and connected with the God of our understanding. What is a prayer practice likely to do for you?
• Calm your mind and soothe your soul
• Cancel out negative thoughts
• Allow you to put things into perspective
• Turn down the volume on disaster thinking
• Permit you to assess your problems more effectively and
• Provide greater peace of mind for your day
Talking to God for a few minutes each morning is a great way to shift your focus from thinking that you are all alone -- flying solo with a myriad of problems, challenges and worries -- to realizing that you're really just a co-pilot who can turn over the reins of power and control to a very loving, compassionate, and wise presence that has only your best interests in mind.
The best method for praying seriously and regularly is to begin a daily prayer practice, a morning or evening ritual that provides both spiritual sustenance and a sense of community. You can either pray alone or find a prayer partner with whom you pray in person or by phone or Skype. You might want to start by reading a short section from a sacred text or a spiritual book or magazine. Sometimes reading or reciting someone else's written prayer first can set you in the right mood for conversing with a Higher Power... the important thing is to find a ritual and a sense of sacred time that feels right and makes sense to you and/or you and your partner.
After you do the reading, you might consider praying aloud or silently. With a partner perhaps each of you can pray aloud, using your own words and integrating gratitude, affirmations and petitions into a short prayer. A spiritual practice like this will keep you committed and on track as well as start your morning out, or end your day, with a deep spiritual connection.
In time, you may find that, as Norman Vincent Peale once said: "Prayer doesn't change things for us, it changes us for things."