Some people like traditional prayers that are found in formal religions. Others don’t identify with praying at all. I think praying is deeply personal and whatever hears our prayers likes it that way. In fact, there are likely as many ways of praying as there are people who do it.
I learned from Esther Cohen that one way to pray is just to say “Amen” a lot. It reminds me that life is its own prayer and I don’t have to get all fancy and ritualistic. I can just wake up to a sense of sacredness in any moment.
Rosy is dancing. Amen.
Randy shoveled the snow off my walks. Amen.
I sang at my friend’s funeral. Amen.
I feel tenderly toward the neighbor’s cat that is lonely and crying. Amen.
9 months post treatment I’m cancer free. Amen.
I’m both grateful and grieving. Amen.
The impulse my body has to inhale is the source of creation breathing me to life. The impulse to exhale is that source wanting to bring something to life through me. Following my breath is praying.
A subtle but relentless thought about someone is a prayer entering my willing heart. I dial the phone and learn that Sandy’s cat just died in her arms. Another day I call and Aidan says he broke his ankle. Practicing singing increases my tendency to tune into these subtle promptings.
My own broken heart is a petition spilling all over the day to call someone else to experience being the answer to prayer.
There’s an old Christian saying, “Singing is praying twice.” The reason religions often chant rather than speak prayers is because of all that happens for us as we chant:
- The regular rhythm entrains and slows breathing and heart rates, encouraging deeper states of relaxation and concentration.
- The vibrato is the same rate as in certain states of meditation and lucid dreaming, encouraging a deeper sense of connection with spirit.
- The increased overtones stimulate the brain and immune system enhancing energy and focus.
It is possible to use the speaking voice in a way that generates all of these qualities, but most of us don’t do that. If we don’t want to chant, starting our day with a little humming can help. Breathing practices aimed at balancing and regulating the breath can also help.
The miracle of creation and the potential for love is in every breath, in each sensation, thought and feeling. Using our voice as prayer is a way to open to love.