Being born in a Hindu family I had seen my parents perform traditional prayers in front of idols, chanting mantras, burning diyas or candles. Till the time I woke up, the house would be filled with fragrance of incense sticks, camphor and clarified butter, which we use to light diyas.
I grew up reciting those mantras, and celebrating festivals, going to temples on regular basis. Whenever something new was added to our home, we thanked almighty.
But, as I grew up, and started questioning, I never felt connected. I realized I was chanting them but nothing else. It is like you are brushing your teeth subconsciously, you just do it without giving it a thought and ultimately it has become a habit.
I don’t know, why it felt emotionless. Was I doing something wrong, or was the religion not for me? I was not even attracted or inclined to any other religion. I could not follow any teachings. It made me question: Is it necessary to be following any religion to be connected to God?
Then life happened, I got stuck in a job that still sucks out life from me. I need to work in rotational shifts, that has messed with my sleep cycle. Slowly something was engulfing me. Sooner I was getting less interested in my surroundings.
My weekends were messed with sleeping and eating. Being an introvert, I did not have social life. Within no time, I became a lifeless human. I did not have interest in anything. I never felt good when I woke up. And I wanted to leave the job, but after that??? What if I got stuck in another job. I was just pushing the situation.
No matter what, sooner or later, wherever I go and whatever I do, I will have to always leave the situation and start from scratch in different direction and I did not have this much strength.
Within no time, I became weak, sometimes overwhelmed with an intense emotion, as if my heart is aching. I was questioning my existence. And one day I broke down, sitting on my bed, head down, and with each breath asking universe to show me a way, to tell me how I can be in peace
After such a long time I folded my hands, and sat silently, focusing on something.
Was it god? I don’t know, it was just a focus, like you close your eyes and remember someone. I sat there for around half an hour, and I was calm. My heart was not exploding, my breathing was normal, and I felt good.
I didn’t know what it was – a meditation or a prayer, but whatever it was, it made me feel calm. This led me to explore more. I searched intensively about praying. I searched for meditation music in YouTube and stumbled upon OM meditation. And I plugged in my earphones and started listening to it. Slowly, I incorporated prayers.
⦁ When it was time to go to bed, I would switch off light, burn my favorite lavender incense sticks/cone, sit on my bed, hold my rosary/mala, and I would just be silent. I remember higher power like I would remember my parents.
⦁ Say something in praise of the universe – it can be anything in your own comfortable language. I would go as – dear lord, my universe, I see you in everything, everything is made by you, you are the creator, food giver, merciful, supreme power.
⦁ After praise, I would just recall my whole day and think of anything that I am thankful for. Even if you don’t find anything to be grateful for, but still there is something you can be always grateful – your life, the food you have, being safe in this pandemic, your family who is alive and protected-they are healthy and when you call them they are there to receive it.
So, buckle up, take time, and start from simple and you will realize, you have really a lot of things that you need to say thank you to almighty.
⦁ After I am done being thankful, I pray for others- for family, for people I read news about, for children who are hungry. I pray for his/her mercy upon people struggling in this pandemic- to give them the strength, love of near and dear ones. I pray for stray dogs, to keep them safe. And I pray for myself, to give me enough that I can help others in need and have enough to donate for people.
⦁ After praying for others, I am overwhelmed with more gratefulness that whatever my situation is, it is not yet worse in comparison to the people I am praying for. So, I remain in that state, folded hands, feeling the touch of my sandalwood rosary, and feeling blessed.
I keep my rosary in a cloth pouch, and I take it everywhere with me. Whenever I feel agitated, or anxious I keep it in my hand and fold my hands and pray. It gives me security and calmness.
The whole thing can take from 15 – 30 minutes depending upon you, your gesture.
It has been a while that I have started it; earlier before going to bed, and slowly two times a day- once after waking up and there before sleeping. Sometimes, whenever I get time, even 4-5 minutes I pray in day, simply focusing my energy on being grateful.
I am more mindful, I am more grateful. Normal activities do not hurt me. I do meditation, but then it is another whole story which I will soon share.
My journey to being more spiritual start from prayers- by being more grateful for the things I have and how much thankful I am to the almighty.
To the lovely ones out there who are thinking you don’t get time for praying- there is always time, if not throughout the day, nothing is stopping you to pray at night, before sleeping.
This was my little glimpse of how I started praying. Do we need to abide to any religion to pray? – No. Do we need to practice rituals? – No. Think of the supreme as your loved one, like a mother, who harnesses love to her children.
When you perceive god/universe or any term you love to give, think of him/her has a figure of mother, and we being children. How a child needs mother, we need the grace of the almighty.
General questions that can come in mind regarding prayers:
If I must express, it in simple terms- it is a form of expression between we as people and supreme power. Like we express love to our loved one, we express our love to almighty by thinking about him.
Prayer can never come out as a habit. It is something you do by choice. You choose to pray every day, else there is no point of praying, until we mean it. So why you need to pray depends upon the reasons you have. I had he reason, that amidst this fast-paced life, I was feeling detached. I wanted to feel loved, protected, to think more of things that I can be grateful for.
Pray as you want. It is not a job that someone as assigned to you. Do it free, like you would love to dance, breathe, be comfortable. What matters is how you stay connected. You can take time to go to park and think of god, think of all the things you are grateful for, think of all things you want to be protected.
If you love to fold hands, you do it. If you love to lie down, and think about him/her, do it. Be simple in your techniques. For me praying is a way to remember that something powerful is present to whom I need to be grateful along with the people; to be thoughtful of the things that I have, which is depreciated from most of the people still today.
As many times as you want. Start from one time a day, basically before going to bed. Because that time we all are relieved from everything and only thing we need to do is sleep.
Anywhere you feel comfortable. Is it in your room balcony? Is it a corner of a room near window you love? Choose a place that makes you happy. Is it a church/temple you want to visit? Is it sitting on your bed? Anywhere you feel comfortable, gives you a good feeling can be chosen.
Pray to one to whom you feel connected. Don’t force yourself to choose someone. You want to think of Buddha, Jesus, Allah, Krishna or any Hindu god, feel free to pray. It is your own personal freedom. You are agnostic, just pray thinking of universe or anything you want to visualize as a magnificent.
At the end, I pray for all of you, for your health, prosperity, to be always be with your loved ones.
Do share us about your experiences of prayers, how you liked it and how it changed you, as prayers has no boundaries like a universe.
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