The Connection Between Meditation and Prayer

Excerpt from “The Ten Commandments of Divorce”

When I was about thirty, I was introduced to meditation on a spiritual retreat I attended. The weekend was designed to help us learn new ways to connect with God and meditation exercises were offered. Even the mere thought of lying still petrified me, but I gave it a shot and after trying to settle down in a group setting, I wound up running from the room in a panic. Since that incident and for some years later, I wouldn’t even consider doing it again, or for that matter yoga, because I was so afraid of the thought of lying motionless trying to empty my head. Turns out, what I was really afraid of was what images would come in when I did finally turn off my mind. Having such terrible memories from past traumas locked inside, part of me was absolutely dead set against unleashing them. No, meditation did not seem like a good idea.

PerceptionAs you already know, I did end up taking yoga (only because my first teacher promised I could leave class before the meditation began), but it bothered me that I was allowing fear to stop me from experiencing what everyone else thought was a wonderful form of relaxation. One day, I was pondering these fears while gardening. When I asked for a solution, a thought came to me as if it was being whispered in my ear, “Prayer is when we talk to God. Meditation is when we listen.” What a profound notion! I knew instinctively that this wasn’t my thought though, so I ran inside to write it down, wondering who or where it might have come from. 

A few days later while watching television, I became riveted to a news show that was reporting on the Guinness Book of World Records. I had no idea at the time why I was so spellbound by the women with the longest fingernails, or the girl with the tiniest waist, but I kept watching anyway with total fascination. At the end of the segment, they reported on a man who called himself Ashrita. Ashrita held the record for the most World records, if you can believe that. He did unusual things like rolling an orange across the floor for one mile using his nose, or juggling while hanging upside down from monkey bars. “This guy is a kook!” I thought to myself, “but I love him!”

At the end of the show, Ashrita was asked how he obtained his skills and concentration. He attributed it to a meditation process that he learned from a spiritual leader named Sri Chinmoy. I was startled (although I should know better) that I had just asked the Universe to show me a way to overcome my fear of meditation and learn to lie still without panic, and here was an answer coming in on my TV! Knowing without a doubt that I was being shown the way, I immediately Googled Ahsrita’s name and found his website. I wrote to him and hoped for a response.

Two weeks went by and I never received an email. I figured if he held 60 World records, he must be a busy guy, so I decided to Google Sri Chinmoy instead. As I perused Sri Chinmoy’s website, I was amazed at his teachings and incredibly prolific writing. I was also surprised to find out he had just died, and saw that people like Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton attended services in his honor and were admirers of his work. Curious about his meditation and eager to learn more, I clicked on one of his writings and saw twelve words that changed my life forever, “Prayer is when we talk to God. Meditation is when we listen.” 

I always believed that most of what I compose comes from a higher source. Carl Jung called this the “collective unconscious”. I never thought I had the IQ to come up with some of the concepts that find their way into my head. Often times, when I “hear” something, I don’t even understand it for many months. Instead, I give credit to myself for being open to hearing what wisdom is out there and then sharing it. I put pen to paper and allow for a stream of words to flow. Some people refer to it as “automatic writing.” It wasn’t until that day though, when I saw the words of Sri Chinmoy in print, did I have proof of what was happening to me. And it gave me one other tremendous realization that I was looking for; just because I wasn’t lying still or sitting in lotus position, didn’t mean I wasn’t meditating! I was doing what is called moving meditation which is when your body is in motion, but your mind is not following. Instead it drifts and sort of lets loose, becoming empty long enough to receive messages. Ever drive somewhere and then when you arrive, not remember how you did it? Same deal and I had been doing this type of meditation for years while gardening, driving, walking, showering; doing the dishes and the list goes on.

Although it is absolutely a legitimate form of meditation, I still wanted to learn the traditional method. Ashrita did eventually get in touch and was happy to lead me to classes given by Sri Chinmoy’s followers in Queens, New York. Can I admit to you that even after taking the course, I still don’t like to sit still and empty my head! But that is okay. I use it instead to listen which makes me feel like I am still doing something. I am of the belief that all forms of meditation are worthwhile, including guided sessions done by CD or a live speaker, moving, transcendental, Vipassana (using the breath), silent, staring at candlelight, and mindful done while breathing. I have also used meditation tapes created by a company named Centerpointe*. They apply subliminal messages embedded in intricate musical compositions to help you get into an “alpha/beta” state of consciousness.

Candace Pert tells us, “meditation is just another way of entering the body’s internal conversations, consciously intervening in its biochemical interactions.” I so believe this, and have come to find it amazingly healing for all four (the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) human aspects. That is why so many major medical establishments, like the Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Health, are doing experiments with guided meditation and showing miraculous results healing disease. The January 2011 issue of Consumer Report On Health states, “Meditation induces rapid physiological changes, including reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension. It might also reduce cardiovascular risk, ease depression, and help people with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and Type 1 diabetes.” The lesson here is that we can generate all kinds of negative activity in our body, even on a cellular level, by just living an ordinary life, but through meditation, we can actually be led back to health and wellness no matter what shape we have gotten ourselves into.

When we choose to use the Positive Manipulation process, there is a continuous need to transport ourselves to a higher awareness and meditation is the most effective way to get there. Remember, we don’t have to know how to manifest what we want. We just have to want it and the ways to make it happen will come to us. Clearing our head and asking for the wisdom to come in accomplishes this quickly and effectively. All great minds will admit to being able to bring in messages from a higher source or part of themselves. When I spoke in a previous chapter about being guided by our soul (navigation), I was intimating this very process. Napoleon Hill wrote, “The great artists, writers, musicians, and poets become great because they acquire the habit of relying upon the “still small voice” which speaks from within, through the faculty of creative imagination. It is a fact well known to people who have “keen” imaginations that their best ideas come through so-called “hunches.” What he is saying is that we don’t necessarily have to start out being visionaries, or imaginative people. This sounds like an oxymoron, but we just have to be open to closing our own human mind so our soulful energy can connect us to infinite wisdom. Carl Jung would have us believe it is our primary job as humans. He said,“Man’s task is to become conscious of the contents that press upwards from the unconscious…As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”If this is true, it is not just our responsibility, but more like our life mission to stay in tune with what messages are trying to come through.