We just got back from our local Spiritual Exploration Group here in Maryland. This is a monthly meeting of like-minded folks who we bring together to discuss spiritual topics of many colors. Our mantra is we get together for Discussion, not Dogma.
Tonight’s topic was Prayer. And we explored the many dimensions of what this means for people both as a word and as a practice. We began with our childhood remembrances of what prayer meant to us and our experience of prayer. We considered the Wikipedia definition:
Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication.
And we discussed where we are now with prayer as a way of “connecting” to something greater than ourselves but that we find inside ourselves. We spoke of prayer as a way of generating and offering our energy for positive connection and transformation, or “lifting to a higher vibrational frequency.”
We even discussed the possible existence of “dark prayer” – negatively focused energy to counter the evolutionary path of human consciousness; and we wondered if prayer can be judged in this way if it is truly a “deliberate communication with a deity”! Is a negative prayer even a true prayer?
I bring this up because prayer is certainly a spiritual practice. For me the word sometimes has a negative impact because it is overloaded with memories of childhood when reciting the “Lord’s Prayer” seemed so rote and lifeless. As a young child required to memorize the prayer I wasn’t even clear on the meanings of the words.
Then it hit me! I, with 46-thousand of my closest friends, am tuning into Deva Premal & Miten every day to chant ancient verses from Holy Scriptures. They are offering a 21-Day Mantra Meditation Journey that began April 23. Today is Day-10. (You can sign up for this free daily practice here: Deva & Premal. And you can catch up because all of the chants they have shared so far are still posted.
So, I sit, eyes closed, each morning in a very open and loving state to chant, often Sanskrit, words I am not familiar with, over and over in a “rote-like” way. How is this so different from my childhood experience of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in a rote-like way?
OK, here’s the thing about that: I am in an altered state when I chant “Om Shanti Om” 108 times. I move into that state of true inner peace invoked by this mantra. I remember where my mind was when I “prayed” the Lord’s prayer as a kid – anywhere but on “Our Father”! I wasn’t seeking to develop “rapport” with “Him”; but with these mantras I am seeking to develop a rapport with the energies invoked by their vibrations, their words composed of sacred syllables, the transcendent quality of the constructs and how they sound when chanted, whispered, or just thought and felt as they vibrate through my being.
One of my Spiritual Practices is to chant. I have learned a number of chants from different traditions using languages from Sanskrit to Navaho. I have been ritually initiated into several. And they all transport me to another “place” where I can transcend this physical dimension of time, space and my body and commune with Spirit. And for me this is the best form of prayer to which I can aspire.
If you are at all interested in chanting and mantra meditation as a form of prayer I invite you with all my good wishes to tune in to Deva Premal & Miten. Here’s the link again: