When I recently asked the current group of yoga teacher training students why they pray they gave me a variety of reasons.
– They said they pray to cultivate hope, to gain strength.
– They pray as a last resort when they feel there’s nothing else to do.
– They pray as a way to connect to the divine.
– When they pray they ask for guidance, give gratitude and express forgiveness of others and of themselves.
The truth is that regardless of your religious beliefs, prayer is important.
In the tradition of the Himalayas, prayer is not only important, it is essential.
Prayers are always answered, provided they are asked correctly.
There are two very different kinds of prayer – God centred prayer and egocentric prayer.
God centred prayer is what connects us to our higher self. God centred prayers are expressed when we focus on truly aspiring to become our best self. God centered prayers are those prayers when we ask for guidance, for clarity, and for inner strength.
Egocentric prayer is when we focus on superficial things that seem important, but ultimately are petty and make us weaker.
It is important to be clear about the type of prayer you are engaging in. To do this you need to refine your desires by considering what it is that you are wanting. Question where that desire comes from and what are the desires you actually want to focus on that would be genuinely beneficial to you.
By way of example, a few years ago I found myself wanting to look like the men on the cover of fitness magazines. I desired bigger muscles and a leaner physique and eventually this became my samskara. Thankfully I managed to work through this and now focus on God centred prayer through putting my energy into more valuable desires.
Ask yourself what desires are you being consumed by?
Is what you desire really worthwhile? Is this desire something you actually want to be putting your energy into? Is it truly what you want? Does this desire fit into your higher purpose? Does it serve you?
Be honest with yourself. Because no one else can give you these answers. ONLY YOU!
Desires can become all consuming, and when we invest our precious time into egocentric desires, we end up wasting precious time and cultivating negative energy. You need to be aware of where you put your energy and what you are creating for yourself.
There is no right and wrong answer, a desire that is beneficial for one individual’s life purpose may be valid and healthy for that person, but for another it may be distracting them from their higher purpose. It is subjective, each person needs to assess what it is that will help them on the path to their dharma.
In assessing your desires remember the four roots of Avidyā: ego, attachment, aversion and fear. If your desires are feeding these you are locking yourself into a karmic cycle. We often fall into the trap of trying to avoid pain, chasing after pleasure and feeding our ego. We need to break out of this cycle, and the answer is easy but the practice is hard!
The way to break out of the cycle is through non-attachment, and in it’s truest sense non-attachment means LOVE.
Love is the answer.
You can show up and be present, be real and authentic without being attached. Practicing non-attachment takes strength and is a continuous practice.
Practicing non-attachment does not negate the respect you have for each other or the agreements you make together. When you practice non-attachment with the people in your life you love them and accept them as they are, because you’re not attached to how they should be in your mind. You do not have preconceived ideas or expectations about how they should be or even how you should be.
Look within yourself, watch your behavior and treatment of people and observe any expectations you are placing on people, including yourself.
When we are not attached we truly love, which leads to freedom and contentment. Attachment leads to fear, which leads to pain which leads to misery.
All future pain can be avoided. If you grease your actions with love and practices selflessness, you will live a happier life. The path is not easy, but if you pray for strength, strength will be given freely to you for this righteous endeavor.