A Practical Perspective On Prayer


Using imagination to consciously make the body feel emotions

Remember being so emotionally overwhelmed with joy that it made you teary eyed ?

When you left home. When you won a prize. When you made love. When you were high. When you uncontrollably laughed with your friends. When you thought about an old memory. When you watched a movie.

In the examples above, emotions are inspired by an external stimuli in the particular moment— the book you were reading, the friends you got together with, some event that reminded you of your mother, etc.

To be overwhelmed is a subconscious event — it is not under your direct control and certain conditions need to be just right to spark such a reaction from within us (See dichotomy of mind — Conscious (think) and subconscious (feel) mind). Every being experiences such overwhelming moments in the right conditions. But however, human beings are the only ones who can consciously do the same irrespective of the conditions.

What is Prayer

To do so is prayer. Prayer is a technique that enables us to focus and feel the external stimuli (without it actually being there) required to be overwhelmed with joy.

To pray means — to practice a technique that trains our mind to make our body believe in the imaginary stimuli and thus be overwhelmed with joy.

Internal and External Effects

In a brain scanning experiment it was found that while praying a person’s frontal lobes light up and parietal lobes go dark. It means that in a meditative state, the portion of our brain, which is responsible for focusing is extra active and the portion responsible for bringing a sense of self goes inactive. This is the reason why the first thing we feel (during the state) is a sense of oneness with the environment. During this state, whatever thought you focus on is actually perceived as reality by your brain.

Once you focus on a positive thought for long enough and feel overwhelmed by it, your body releases certain neurotransmitters that make you feel great. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter primarily responsible for the tears in our eyes. Releasing it with oxytocin gives us a great feeling. (See modern yogi for the neurotransmitters of wellness).

At a gross level, apart from many other functions like controlling mood, appetite, sleep, etc.. serotonin also helps to regulate hemostasis and blood clotting giving it a significant role in wound healing. At a subtle level, every being, on release of serotonin and oxytocin, affects those around them and helps beings with deficiencies feel better. By the way, deficiency of serotonin is also a key physiological reason for depression.

Think of moments when we get excited by someone’s touch, presence or by just hearing a good news. In a subtle sense, we all have felt the ‘positive energy’ during such instances. In a gross sense, we can feel the ‘electricity’ (electric signals) through our nerves.

Hence, praying does heal us and our environment. Moreover it feels great!

What Needs Practice

To be in a meditative state (a state of trance or expanded consciousness) and focus so hard on a positive thought that we have tears of joy rolling our cheeks.

The Hack

  1. Meditation — In case you find difficulty to just close your eyes and relax, the best hack is to try the same when you are tired. Especially after physically exerting your self.
  2. Focus on depth — Once in a meditative state, a simple hack to focus on depth is to feel a touch. We have a lot of touches registered in our sub-conscious mind. During prayer, our conscious mind can recall the touches and place it in the imagined stimuli. For example —imagine being hugged by your mother.

The Good News

Just like learning a instrument, one can get better with practice. All it takes is spending 15 minutes daily. And like anything else, the more we practice the more we explore its newer dimensions.

Is There More to Prayer

I am sure there is more… but I don’t yet know about it.

What Prayer is Not

Prayer is not what we have been taught — just…thoughts, words or action. Thoughts, words and actions are to be used to help us feel. The important point is to be overwhelmed with that positive feeling.

What We Receive From Prayer

It is easy to see how psychologically prayer attracts positivity. It does reengineer our mind to believe and undoubtedly increase the level of confidence. Of course, prayer alone cannot make us achieve goals or make our troubles go away, but it does make us graceful in dealing with whatever life throws at us.

Umm…What About God

If I still haven’t convinced you to just close your eyes and pray for a few minutes every day, I can understand. It is indeed sad that prayer has become a tool to spread blind belief in god and religion. Of course, it can be argued that to blindly believe in god (an easier option)… through an image, a shape, a sign, an object.. and pray is better than to not pray at all! (See new road to religion — how a scientific approach can conserve the art of praying)

God isn’t something to be believed or not believed in. It is and was always intended to be something to be explored.

Prayer is a technique where we continuously train ourselves to get better at that.